It was announced last week that the Canadian Football League (CFL) was ending contact practices during the season.
To many, this came as an absolute shock. How are teams expected to prepare for the physical nature of football without actually practicing what a game itself entails? In an attempt to create a better environment for player safety, was the league diminishing the on-field product?
Now, in response to the CFL making this decision, the NFL is indicating that it is monitoring what’s happening in the league to the north.
“We have pretty deep ties with the CFL, particularly on health and safety rules, so I think we’re watching what they’re doing,” NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said, via Pro Football Talk. “I don’t expect change. I think the owners and the Players’ Association are satisfied to date with the reduction and the results there.”
The key point here from Lockhart is that he doesn’t expect any changes to the NFL practice rules. Currently, teams are allowed 14 contact practices during the regular season. This was changed during the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement to take into account player safety.
There’s definitely a valid argument on both sides here. On one hand, the NFL’s commitment to player safety had in the past been questioned. It’s now taking concrete steps to create a game without unnecessary risks of brain trauma and other injuries.
On the other hand, we’ve seen the quality of the on-field product around the NFL take a hit over the past several seasons. The most recent example of this is offensive line play, something former Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask covered in detail over the weekend.
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) September 17, 2017
It’s never an easy situation for a league to be in. The NFL has to balance player safety with putting out an entertaining product on the field. As of right now, it seems the league is missing the happy medium between the two.
Changing in-season practice rules would likely only create a less desirable on-field product. We’ll see how it goes in the CFL, but don’t expect the NFL to be changing its rules any time soon.