There is no question that the ‘Mel Blount Rule’ implementation was to limit the great athleticism of a player who deployed an effective defensive technique (‘The Bump and Run’) better than other cornerbacks using similar tactics since the 60s, but it is hard to argue against the NFL’s authority to eliminate a single technique; especially since it didn’t prevent Blount from continuing his dominance on the field of play and the Steelers went on to win two more Super Bowls immediately after the league implemented the rule. An easier criticism could be made against the continuation of such rules based on their lasting impact over a period of time, along with the motivation for implementing said rules to limit athleticism on the field of play.
The complicated catch rules before the end of 2017 season could’ve been very well implemented to slow down what was done to Mel Blount in 1978, additional rules in 1985 and throughout the 2000s. Rule manipulation creates the impetus to rob Peter to pay Paul or taking from the athletic exploits of a player (Blount) and attempt to offset the massive success of receivers in its aftermath, by altering something as basic as catching the ball.
A series of rule changes that many call ‘The Brady Rule’ has had the same game-altering effects of the so-called ‘Mel Blount Rule,’ but were implemented for different reasons. The New England Patriots owner told the Boston Globe in 2009:
“It’s like if Peyton Manning were gone for a season, I think the whole NFL suffers, the same way the NFL suffered with Tommy out. So whatever we can do to protect quarterbacks and to minimize the opportunity of them being taken out with a year-ending injury I would support.
“It’s not good for the league. What makes it special is special players. It’s like going to see a great movie and the star isn’t in the movie. It’s the same principle.” (Boston Globe: http://archive.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2009/03/24/brady_rule_steps_taken_to_protect_qbs_knees/)
In essence, the league implemented the Brady Rules because of one player as well, but in contrast to the ‘Mel Blount Rule,’ where it made the change to prevent superior athletic play, it made an affirmative action to implement a rule to protect the inferior athletic performance of immobile quarterbacks who could not maneuver as much in the pocket and continued doing so by putting protections in place for receivers that made the one-dimensional drop back quarterback’s quick pass deliveries even more potent.
The NFL manipulated the rules that significantly exacerbated the effects of preceding rule changes to protect the quarterback based on the perceived star quality of one position.
Mel Blount’s great athletic performance was diminished and Tom Brady’s limited offensive performance was significantly enhanced throughout the 2000s with not only rules changes, but with “points of emphasis” that allowed officials to subjectively gauge a defensive players intent before and after he tackled a quarterback. The wording of the rule changes does not do the actual on-field enforcement justice. The enforcement of protections for quarterbacks is carried to a completely different level except in the case of the more athletic zone-read variety of quarterbacks who can be sacked even after the defenseless act of pitching the ball…
YouTube – https://youtu.be/-CzZO44-rcU
Now I know of very few players, in the history of the NFL, where the league changed the rules because one guy was too good at one thing, in eliminating a receiver on a play-by-play basis is what Mel Blount did. – Bob Trumpy Cincinnati Bengals Tight End 1968-1977