National Football League
Whitlock: NFL should adopt NHL rules
National Football League

Whitlock: NFL should adopt NHL rules

Published Nov. 20, 2012 12:00 a.m. ET

Dear Jason:

It’s been at least a month since you’ve mentioned The Wire in one of your columns. Are you mad at me?

David Simon

Here are your NFL Truths for Week 11:


10. There has to be a better solution than sitting Ed Reed for an entire game and stealing $400,000 from him because he executed a textbook hit on a receiver.

Roger Goodell can call it a helmet-to-helmet hit. I live in football reality. Reed’s de-cleater on Emmanuel Sanders Sunday night was textbook. It was good football. It’s the way football has been played ever since they invented space helmets for football.

I’m not anti-player safety. I get the concussion hysteria. I support efforts to make the game safer. There just has to be a better solution than suspending Reed for a game and taking his paycheck. Ed Reed is a signature NFL player. He’s a Hall of Famer. He’s a superstar. I love to watch him play. He should not be demonized because he’s struggling while trying to stop playing safety the way the position has been played for 40 years.

(Editor's note: On Tuesday, the NFL agreed, reducing Reed's punishment to a $50,000 fine without suspension).

Why not this?

Hockey has a penalty box. Why can’t the NFL? You get flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit — and if replay confirms it was a helmet-to-helmet hit — you must sit out the next 15 minutes (one quarter) of game action. If it happens in the fourth quarter, the time carries over into the next game. If you get flagged twice in the same game, you sit out 30 minutes (two quarters).

If you get four helmet-to-helmet hits in the same season, then you get suspended for a game.

To arbitrarily suspend Reed for a game and tie the suspension to a hit that took place in 2010 is absolutely ridiculous and it’s why Roger Goodell is seen as clueless by people who actually played football.

9. There’s no more mystery regarding what Jim Harbaugh really thinks about Alex Smith.

All it took was a single terrific performance by second-year QB Colin Kaepernick against an overrated Bears defense for Harbaugh to “Belichick” San Fran’s starting QB. Never mind Smith’s 104 QB rating. Never mind Smith’s three-year, $24-million contract extension. Never mind San Fran nearly qualified for the Super Bowl last season.

Harbaugh sees his version of Tom Brady when he looks into the mobile, big-arm eyes of Colin Kaepernick. Bill Belichick benched Drew Bledsoe, a QB with a $100 million contract in 2001, in favor of the “hot hand,” Tom Brady. The difference is Belichick had nine weeks of information on Brady. Mo Lewis’ sideline hit on Bledsoe knocked the QB out for two months.

Mark my words, Harbaugh is going to go with Kaepernick after ONE game!

I wouldn't disagree with the decision. But I’m a sports columnist. I like to live dangerously. I’m not an NFL head coach. I don’t have to look Alex Smith in the eyes and tell him I’m going with the kid even though Smith has played admirably.

Alex Smith is the nice guy who keeps dating the super-hot, slutty high school cheerleader. Harbaugh is the cheerleader who keeps hooking up with Peyton Manning and Colin Kaepernick behind Smith’s back.

Harbaugh has no genuine affinity for Smith. Harbaugh believes Smith’s weak arm limits San Fran’s offense too much for the 49ers to win the Super Bowl. Again, I don’t blame Harbaugh for falling in love with Kaepernick. There’s no real downside. If Kaepernick fails, Smith is such a nice guy, he’ll take Harbaugh back with no hard feelings.

8. Robert Griffin has moved back ahead of Andrew Luck in the rookie of the year race.

Luck was really unimpressive in Indy’s blowout loss to the New England Patriots. Luck has some Brett Favre in him; he's unafraid to throw into a crowd. At the end of the first half, Luck’s clock management and situational awareness was suspect. He looked like the typical rookie quarterback against the Patriots. After watching the game, Luck’s 12 TD-to-12 INT ratio made perfect sense and so did his 57 percent completion percentage.

Meanwhile, RG3 keeps plugging along. He’s completing 67 percent of his passes and has thrown just three INTs compared to 12 TDs. The Shanahans have done a better job of managing RG3 than the Colts have done with Luck. It’s not all that surprising given the health problems of Indy head coach Chuck Pagano.

Indy has a favorable closing schedule. Don’t count Luck out of this race just yet. Two weeks ago, I had Luck significantly head of RG3.

7. In my never-ending search to get a defensive player in the league MVP race, I now present to you Denver linebacker Von Miller.

Why not?

I know, it’s blasphemous to talk MVP candidate in Denver and not mention Peyton Manning. But is Manning really having a better season than Miller? Miller looks like Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas wrapped in one package. He has 13 sacks with six games to play. Miller and San Fran’s Aldon Smith (15 sacks) have legitimate chances to break Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record (22.5).

It’s criminal that defensive players never win the league MVP award. There are three tremendous candidates this year on the defensive side of the ball -- Miller, Smith and JJ Watt. Here’s my current top 5: 1. Peyton Manning; 2. Von Miller; 3. JJ Watt; 4. Adrian Peterson; 5. Tom Brady (just three INTs).

6. What’s happening in Kansas City with Chiefs fans proves the power of social media.

This past Sunday, thanks to campaigning on Twitter and Facebook, as many as 20,000 Chiefs fans showed up at Arrowhead Stadium wearing black in protest of general manager Scott Pioli’s continued employment. The “blackout” was so impressive that CBS broadcasters Marv Albert and Rich Gannon talked about the “Save Our Chiefs” movement during the game.

Fans now have a voice, a powerful voice. If Chiefs owner Clark Hunt wanted to salvage his embattled GM, it became far more difficult after 20,000 fans expressed their opinion on Pioli. I would suspect most of the fans in attendance at the next home game will be wearing black and lending their voice to the “Save Our Chiefs” movement.

Power to the people!

5. Greg Schiano is my coach of the year right now.

It will be interesting to see if Schiano gets the credit he deserves or if the media will continue to criticize him for roughing up the Giants when they were in victory formation. If Schiano never does it again, his ploy against the Giants worked magnificently. When you watch the Buccaneers play, you see a team that mirrors its never-give-up coach.

Tampa’s comeback victory over the Panthers was absolutely beautiful. They were down 11 with six minutes to play. Rookie running back Doug Martin’s fumble into the end zone in the fourth quarter should’ve finished the Bucs. Nope. Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson were spectacular late.

Tampa’s closing schedule is difficult. The Bucs play Atlanta twice and also face the Broncos and the Saints. If Tampa gets to 9-7, Schiano is my coach of the year.

4. Speaking of closing schedule, don’t expect the Saints to rally back from the abyss and make the playoffs.

Drew Brees and the Saints still have to play San Fran, Atlanta, the Giants, Tampa, Dallas and Carolina. That has 8-8 written all over it. It’s impressive New Orleans has rebounded from its 0-4 start, but I don’t see a fairy-tale finish.

3. The AFC wild-card race looks like a three-horse race among Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Indianapolis for two spots.

Despite a favorable schedule, I have the Colts as the odd man out. I think the Colts have traveled as far as they can on emotion. We saw the real Indy defense against New England. Dwight Freeney isn’t even a shell of himself. Freeney’s ineffectiveness hampers Robert Mathis.

The Colts get to play Buffalo, Detroit, Tennessee and Kansas City down the stretch. They also play Houston twice, including in the regular-season finale when Houston might be resting its starters. Indy is going to win two more games and get to 8-8.

I see the Bengals winning four more games and getting to 9-7. Cincy finishes with Oakland, San Diego, Dallas, Philly, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

2. A week or two ago, I mentioned Bob Stoops as a possible college coach who could come to the NFL and have success. I have a better college candidate -- Brian Kelly.

Kelly is meant to coach in the pros. If he gets Notre Dame to the BCS title game in his third season, his work at the collegiate level is complete. There’s nowhere to go but down from there at Notre Dame. Kelly has already survived one tragic controversy, the death of student manager Declan Sullivan.

The Chargers, the Chiefs, the Eagles and the Jets should all offer Kelly $7 million to coach.

1. I didn’t want to mention this up high because many of the idiots can’t handle unfiltered truth. But Harbaugh’s handling of Smith-Kaepernick is further proof that NFL head coaches don’t care about the color of their quarterbacks.

When Vince Young got benched in Tennessee, we heard all kinds of whining about how unfair it was to sit a black QB with Young’s winning record. Vince Young never performed at the level Alex Smith has the past two years. Never. Smith almost guided the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

All it took was ONE game for Harbaugh to go with his mixed-race, Tiger Woods QB.

Can we stop most of the whining about how unfair it is for black QBs? Can we stop the whining about how unfairly Tim Tebow is being treated? Life is unfair to ALL QBs.


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