It is inconceivable to think rule changes, ostensibly put in place to increase the profitability of the National Football League (NFL), has not dramatically changed professional football. To be sure, the League will always evolve, but the eco-system put in place in the 2000s have been applied with a hatchet instead of a scalpel. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much consideration for preserving athleticism on the field of play.
Today the blame is placed squarely on Roger Goodell’s shoulders, as fans become increasingly impatient with the litany of rules limiting the wholesome enjoyment of the sport. The author devotes an entire chapter on the affirmative action on the part of the NFL to protect less athletic and immobile quarterbacks on the field of play.
Chronology of Rule Changes (In ‘The Asterisk’ book)
In 1976 greater rules were put in place to protect the quarterbacks
In 1978 rules were put in place to allow receivers to get off the line of scrimmage, fans and analysts later dubbed the rules ‘The Mel Blount Rule
In 1985 one of the great innovators in professional football Tex Schramm stated, “I think we’ve done about all we can do to protect the quarterback when he’s in the act of passing, which is a defenseless position for him.” (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1985-01-13/sports/8501030633_1_defensive-offensive-linemen-larry-rakestraw)
In 1994, with the enormous contract with Fox, rules were piled on to protect the quarterback again (http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2014/09/_1994_nfl_rules_how_a_series_of_pass_friendly_changes_saved_a_moribund_league.html)
In the 2000s rules were applied to protect wide receivers by limiting engagement with defender throughout their routes.
The NFL asserts what is known as ‘The Tuck Rule’ in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders; still considered one of the most controversial calls in professional sports.
In 2007 the New England Patriots were disciplined by the league for videotaping New York Jets’ defensive coaches’ signals from an unauthorized location. US Senator Arlen Specter stated Goodell informed him personally that Bill Belichick videotaped his opponents since the year 2000.
In 2008, after a season injury to Tom Brady rule changes to protect stationary, drop-back and immobile quarterbacks were dubbed ‘The Brady Rules.’ Roger Goodell enforced rules with massive fines and on-field enforcement: (http://archive.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/articles/2009/03/24/brady_rule_steps_taken_to_protect_qbs_knees/)
In 2014 The New York Times reported on the inequities artificially applied to the quarterback position.
In 2015 Tom Brady was fined for his actions involving what became known as ‘Deflategate’ and an ESPN ‘Outside The Lines’ report indicated that cheating within the New England Patriots’ organization was far more extensive than what was revealed by the NFL
In 2018 NFL Owners Agree to change the rule regarding the definition of a catch. The League put rules in place to prevent contact using the crown of the head and even more roughing the passer rules. ‘The Asterisk’ is published.