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Quick Inside Slant: Week 5

Impressions of the 2016 NFL Season as perceived by a Creative Writing graduate student, part-time amateur stand-up comedian and collegiate intramural flag football legend.


By: Dustin Fisher

Sorry I took off last week, but I just wasn’t having fun writing about football anymore.

I Am the Maker of Rules, Dealing With Fools

Terry McAuley looks as confused as we do about some of the rule changes this year.

Terry McAuley looks as confused as we do about some of the rule changes this year.

Every year the NFL makes an attempt to pretend they’re trying to make the game safer. Whether they’re outlawing vicious hits to the head, protecting a sliding quarterback or saving the torture of straining one’s triceps while dunking the ball over the goalpost, rules are being changed. This year, for reasons of safety, competition, and as far as I can see – for no damn reason at all – there were ten rule changes. For your organizational pleasure, I’ve ranked them all from 1 to 10 on exactly how smart or stupid they have turned out to be through the first five weeks of the year.

1. All chop blocks have finally been outlawed, something I thought happened at least five years ago and probably should have happened 25 years ago. It’s hard to argue against this change, however long the NFL fought to keep it.

2. It is now delay of game when a team tried to call a timeout when they aren’t permitted to do so. This is awesome. It forces the coaches to have some accountability for their nonsense stall tactics. If only we could get them to expand it to challenge flags too. I don’t think this has been called yet, which is probably a good sign.

3. Play-callers can now communicate with players from the press box, as opposed to having to be on the field. Again, why hadn’t this already happened? It seems like a stupid rule that they couldn’t.

4. Replay Officials may now consult with the on-field officials to provide information on the correct application of playing rules, etc. Good. Now maybe Dean Blandino won’t have to explain away some of the wildly erroneous calls and penalty enforcement errors that we get too often. Of course, it didn’t stop them from overturning that Duke Johnson non-fumble. (Seriously, how the f@%# did that happen?)

5. There will no longer be a 5-yard penalty when a player touches the ball after coming back in from out of bounds. Thank god! Why was this even a rule? Just call it an incomplete pass, for crying out loud. Which it basically will be now.

6. If both teams commit a penalty after a turnover, the ball will return to the spot where the defense gained possession. Fine by me.

7. Permanently move the extra points back to the 15-yard line. Apparently, that was an experimental thing last year. OK. It does make kickers more important, and teams seem to go for two more often, which is about a thousand times more interesting.

8. Horse collar tackles have been expanded to include when a defender grabs a jersey at the nameplate or above. This is also fine by me, as this is just as dangerous as grabbing inside the shoulder pad. Maybe. But still, it’s dangerous. Damn you, Roy Williams.

Dumb and Dumber

If you’re reading this article for any reason other than because you thought it was an Alan Parsons Project fan page, you already know of the two stupid rules I’m about to talk about. They are both undeniably dumb, and for two very different reasons. But it shows off the two equally infuriating sides of the NFL, power-hungry and incompetent.

The kickoff changed to get rid of returns has actually let to more to more returns and fewer touchbacks.

The kickoff changed to get rid of returns has actually let to more to more returns and fewer touchbacks.

9. Let’s start with the incompetent. This year, touchbacks have been moved up to the 25-yard line. Last year, only 7 teams had a kickoff return average over 25 yards. This rule change would incentivize the other 25 teams to kneel the ball in the end zone and take advantage of the extra 5 yards the NFL is giving them this year, seriously cutting down on kickoff returns, the statistically and anecdotally most dangerous play in all of football. BUT, what the NFL didn’t count on was the other team knowing about this rule. You know, the team kicking off. If this information was to somehow fall into their hands, well they might use it for the forces of evil, and have their kickers – who frankly have nothing better to do in practice – start training to kick the ball down inside the five-yard line, forcing 200-pound men to bang heads together at full speed even more often than before. Well, the other team found out. As of Week Four, 24 of the 32 NFL teams have had a LOWER touchback percentage than last year, creating MORE kickoff returns instead of LESS, which was the NFL’s goal with this stupid band-aid. Just get rid of the damn kickoffs already. We all know you want to. Yes, they’re exciting, but they are dangerous, and that’s the point, right? To make the game safer, right? What you’re doing by moving the kickoffs up five yards, and then the touchbacks up five yards is just like saying that you’re OK to drive home because it’s only 10 minutes away. As if the distance you need to travel makes you any less drunk. If any of these kickoff returns could result in the next Kevin Everett, making them happen less often is just silly. Either make them safer somehow or take them out. Or hell, just admit that they’re dangerous, but a vital part of the game. Trying to cut down on them – especially when you clearly haven’t thought things through all the way – is just irresponsible.

Oh yes, Brandin Cooks' bow and arrow celebration is really putting players safety at risk........

Oh yes, Brandin Cooks’ bow and arrow celebration is really putting players safety at risk……..

10. In an effort to make individuals less individual, the NFL has reworded and begun to strictly enforce a rule that gives massive amounts of yards to teams whose feelings could get hurt if somebody spins a ball on the ground near them. There were 22 taunting penalties all of last year and through Week Four this year, there have already been 13, setting a pace to be 236% of last year’s total. 15 yards is a backbreaker in every case I can think of. Maybe not if you were on the 1-yard line and you could only be penalized half the distance to the goal. That would actually be an awesome and hilarious time to get one of these penalties. But normally, 15-yard penalties stop drives completely or put teams in field goal range and should be reserved for things that Vontaze Burfict does. Not for dropping the ball inadvertently on an opposing player or for dunking the ball over the goalpost or taking off your helmet so people know who you are. Why can’t you dunk the ball over the goalpost again? Is it concern for the goalpost? Or the security team with their backs to the field? Or the feelings of the team that just got scored on? What the hell is the point? The NFL is changing the outcomes of games for no good reason. Sure, I’m not a fan of Cam Newton throwing the ball directly at an opposing player, but who is Josh Norman taunting by running to the sidelines – out of the field of play – and shooting a bow and arrow?* The NFL said this fell under the mow more strictly enforced “no sexual or violent behavior” law. How is that violent? Who the heck shoots a bow and arrow? When was the last bow and arrow murder? Maybe 1750? You know who shoots arrows? Katniss Everdeen. The iconic YA character known for raging against the machine. A machine devised to empower its governing body by exploiting the people it governs. Or something like that, according to my wife and half the internet. Yeah, I think he knew what he was doing. We all did. And it wasn’t violent. And you know it. Now stop fixing problems that don’t exist and try to fix the ones that do.

* – Technically, I guess he’s just shooting the arrow. Not the bow and arrow.


Dustin Fisher is a writer, comedian, storyteller, and stay-at-home dad. Follow along with his dad blog at or buy his first book, Daddy Issues.

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Dustin Fisher is an amateur standup comedian, storyteller, freelance writer, and stay-at-home dad, all of which are just better ways of saying “unemployed.” He worked in the area of collegiate recreation for the previous 14 years at UMBC, Miami University and the University of Baltimore. There, he became somewhat of a folk legend on the flag football field and actually got paid to play fantasy football. Dustin is currently in the MFA program at the University of Baltimore seeking a Masters degree in Creative Writing. He has made contributions to various publications including The Good Men Project and the Baltimore Fishbowl. For more about Dustin, check out his stay-at-home dad website, Daddy Needs a Nap. Dustin lives with his wife and daughter in New Carrollton, MD in a house surrounded by too many trees to get the Dish Network.

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