The Designed Rush, Week 1: Why Changing The Reception Rule Is Our Next Football Move

In his first installment of The Designed Rush this season, Mike Tunison addresses the reception rule (and how we can help change it), The Ocho/T.O. disappearing act, FOX's new floating energy orbs and much more.

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I don't read user agreements. I don't read terms and conditions. I seldom peruse instructions. When I do, it's usually because I'm desperately stuck. I might read the boilerplate in a contract if the person handing it to me is watching intensely.

You may not be quite as inattentive as I am to these small, yet insignificant details, but I suspect you're not that far off, either.

This is important to remember when basking in the white hot rage that has attended the controversial Calvin Johnson touchdown-that-wasn't in the closing minute of Sunday's Lions-Bears game. For a league that enjoys outsize success, the NFL tinkers quite a bit with its product. Compared with baseball, where minute rule changes cause purists' hair to erupt in a catastrophic wildfire, football rule changes are met with relatively little fanfare. That isn't to say people don't notice. Sometime in the middle of the off-season, changes are announced and serious observers soberly mull their ramifications. But once the season starts, fans are suddenly shocked to find a player penalized for hitting a defenseless receiver or that the overtime rules are different for the postseason.

Now, the rule that rendered Calvin Johnson's catch in the end zone incomplete isn't a new one. No, it's been pissing off fans for a number of years now. While the NFL is admirably taking some steps to make the game safer for its players, it's never really gotten around to clearly defining what a "football move" is. And until that's done, incidents like what happened Sunday will continue to play out and infuriate viewers.

It's not only fans who have been slow to object. It usually isn't until a rule disrupts a team's chance of winning that players and owners complain about it. Look at what happened with the positioning of the referees this year. No one really raised a fuss until the preseason came along and suddenly teams had problems trying to run their hurry-up offense.

The problem with the outrage - at least from the fans - is that it's not sustained. This obviously wasn't the first time a big play was overturned using this rule and it won't be the last. But fans have to make it clear that a pointless technicality like the one that robbed the Lions of a victory on Sunday needs to be fixed. Perhaps the backlash that will accompany Megatron's play will accomplish that, but I have my doubts. The fact that such an incident happened early in the season will make it easier to forget once the competition committee meets after the season in over. And with the labor situation such a hot-button issue, necessary changes such as these probably won't be a huge part of the public discourse by the time that rolls around.

Maybe I'm wrong. Hopefully I am.

NFL Player Tweet Of The Week

"@terrellowens wake up big bruh, for every negative word uttered about us not working as teammates today let's unleash hell on the field!!" -- Chad Ochocinco, hours before Sunday's game at New England.

No foreboding there, huh? It seemed a little too easy to expect that the first Ochocinco/T.O. scandal would already emerge in Week 1, but sometimes things play out in complete delightful harmony with our most cynical predictions. Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy went in search of answers as to why the two receivers weren't on the field for the final play of the first half, which was a Bengals Hail Mary pass. Instead of clear answers or maybe even a shocking admission of error, Reedy got the unified front of obfuscation we've all come to expect from the Bengals organization.

Truth About Advertising

We already took note of the first Ray Lewis Old Spice commercial here at SB Nation, so it's only right that we highlight follow-up ads from the campaign. They're very similar in tone to the raucous and random commercials with Terry Crews  that Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim directed for the product. It would interesting to know whether those two are still involved, because if there were a making-of documentary of Tim and Eric working with Ray Lewis on a commercial, I might be prepared to spend in upwards of eleventy billion dollars for it.

The Rex Ryan Memorial Week 1 Outstanding Gratuitous Profanity

Sorry, Tony Dungy, but I hate to tell you that there are lots of profane words uttered in professional football contests. This is probably not news to you, but your status as public moralizer compels you to act like it is.

This feature will highlight the best instance of a swear word being picked up by a TV broadcast. Juvenile? Perhaps. But that's one of the reasons Hard Knocks was so popular this year, and far be it from me to disappoint a smut-loving audience.

From yesterday's Colts-Texans game came this gem from safety and noted Tom Brady knee shredder, Bernard Pollard. I'm not sure what provokes that kind of rage when pushing Reggie Wayne out of bounds, but maybe Pollard was as irritated as we were about Wayne's threatened holdout during the off-season.

Facepalms Of Note

Poor Jeff Davidson. You finally get to work with someone who isn't Jake Delhomme as your quarterback, and now you discover that his replacement, Matt Moore, is just as prone to senseless throws into triple coverage. Oh, and your only other option is Jimmy Clausen. Best of luck with that headache.

Dispatches from Madden Nation

After a disappointing performance with last year's edition, the new version of Madden has seen a six percent increase in sales over the previous one in its first month of release. Given the indignation that greeted the new and very annoying Strategy Pad feature, that's a little surprising. Pasta Padre attributes some of the gain to the strong word of mouth that Madden 10 generated since coming out. So while it may not have sold well at its release, it likely brought more consumers to Madden 11. It will be interesting to see if gamers keep away from next year's edition due to some of the dissatisfaction with some of Madden 11's new features.

A Delicious Bundle of Gripes


--  I know that expecting FOX to have a subdued broadcast presentation is like expecting ESPN to hire a coherent commentator, but do we really need to have a shadow under the playclock display? Does Fox really want viewers to think there's an energy orb levitating near the line of scrimmage in the games it covers? I think that might actually be counterproductive to ratings. Not necessarily because viewers will think it's stupid (even though it is) but because HOLY S--- WE NEED TO GO TO THE ACTUAL GAME, THEY GOT FLOATING ENERGY ORBS!

-- A decent attempt by Mitch Albom to gin up some rage over the Megatron no-touchdown call, but I'm absolutely certain no one will top this:

-- Mike Tomlin's team may have needed overtime to beat the Falcons, but he soundly thrashed Atlanta coach Mike Smith in the style department. Hardly a surprise, there, but the contrast in their timeout calling is a perfect illustration. Here's Tomlin:


Smith meanwhile pulled a hammy spastically running over to the ref to get his attention.

-- Speaking of the Steelers, the number of times the cliche "Steelers football" was invoked by FOX announcers during Sunday's grindout game against the Falcons: At least six. I decided late in the first half that it was better to concentrate on my drinking than things that frustrate me. The Steelers, in part because of the media and also because of their fans, will never be accepted as anything other than a team that rolls off 15 straight four-yard runs up the gut. It's nice that there's a renewed focus to the running game, which is needed especially with Ben Roethlisberger suspended, but the team didn't win its two recent Super Bowls by being a one-dimensional running team.


-- From the looks of things, Sage Rosenfels has a future in hostage negotiation. "What's that? You've abducted Ramses Barden? How much to keep you from bringing him back?"

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