Welcome to flag football

Kyle Riviere @kyleR_sports
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere

I was never one to try to foresee the future and paint a picture of the innovations and lifestyles the future generations may produce and apply to their every-day lives.

I don't want to be like past authors and story-tellers that had 2013 looking like something straight out of "The Jetsons." As far as I know, there are no flying cars, robot maids are not the norm and people can't just up and go to space any time they get the urge.

But when it comes to the NFL, I'm starting to feel like quite the prophet. From what I've seen the league do over the past 15 years, I've come up with two bold predictions.

By 2025, the NFL will be reduced to two-hand touch. That will last for a while until too many players start taking nasty spills, scraping their knees and getting some pretty intense grass stains. That will make way for the 2032 decision to transition to the National Flag Football League.

The horrible thing about this is that I'm only half-joking. I would not be surprised in the slightest if it played out that way considering what the league has been reduced to in such a short span.

It's really getting quite ridiculous. How ridiculous? I'll only be 27 next month, and I've been forced to use the "back in my day" argument and brand the new NFL rules as straight up weak like a grumpy old man that's been watching the game since the '60s.

In today's league, you can't lay a finger on receivers. If you brush up against a quarterback, you're getting flagged. You can't horse-collar a ball-carrier--even if it's your only option to get them down. You can't throw blind-side blocks.

You can get fined for a hit that you weren't even penalized for. You can get penalized for a beautiful, clean shot to a receiver.

You can't create a wedge on a kickoff return anymore. In fact, the league has been tossing around the idea of getting rid of kickoffs completely and worst of all, last week, the NFL has decided to make it illegal for a ball carrier to lower his helmet.

Let me get this straight. The league thinks a ball carrier having to run straight-up as 250-pound linebackers fly in at them full-speed is going to create more player safety? Running backs already had a short shelf-life. How are they going to stay healthy now?

If a tackler is coming in hot to destroy you, what are you supposed to do? If you can't put your head down as a preemptive strike, you make yourself dangerously vulnerable.

The NFL says that ball carriers need to put their shoulders down to protect themselves instead. There's a reason I'm a writer; I'm not big in the study of human anatomy, but I do know this. Your head has to follow your shoulders to the party. If you put your shoulders down, your head is going down too.

Bears running back Matt Forte called the new rule "absurd." That's putting it nicely. I can think of about 50 other adjectives that aren't so warm and fuzzy.

Back when I played fullback in high school, there was only one way I was able to survive as I consistently found linebackers that outweighed me by 50 pounds standing in my path without a lead blocker protecting me. I had to put my head down and be the hammer and not the nail.

I can't even fathom what it would have been like if I was forced to just run straight-up holding a metaphorical sign that told defenders, "Please light me up as hard as you can while I just stand tall and take it." Maybe I wouldn't have made it through my high school career without a serious injury.

That was 1A high school football. Ball carriers in the NFL might not be so lucky this year. But then again, it's all in the name of player safety, right?

I hated having to watch the NFL go through that nasty strike a couple of years ago. But I'll tell you this, if the players came together to strike until this rule was abolished, I'd applaud until my hands hurt.

I don't care if it took away half of the season. I like the way the NFL used to be--you know, 10 years ago.