Welcome to the Friday edition of The Cooler, on a day where we suspect you will have a much easier time getting to and from the State Fair. Let’s get to it:
*The NFL’s new rules on helmets and late hits put the league, once again, in a no-win position. The goal of player safety is a good one. The rule itself is confusing (at best) and satisfies nobody.
The folks who want the sport to be as violent as it was a generation ago, before football’s dangers were fully known and exposed, consider the new rules a travesty. Fans who think football is way too violent won’t be appeased. The middle ground sees a confusing product in which games could be decided more and more by the judgment of referees. And the players don’t know what to do.
It makes the NFL an easy (and justified) target, which is what happened after the Vikings’ Antwione Williams was flagged for a roughing the passer penalty at a critical (OK, critical in the context of the preseason) juncture against Jacksonville.
“THIS IS ROUGHING THE PASSER IN THE MODERN NFL?” everyone screamed in unison.
Twitter rage aside, it was a borderline call (at best). If you look from certain angles at slower speeds, Williams drives the QB to the ground and kinda sorta lands on him. Under the new rules, you could make a case that it’s a penalty. At regular speed, the way football has been played for generations, it’s a perfect tackle — hard but clean.
What we should all agree on is that at any speed, the play did not warrant any further discipline.
So here’s your chance to get outraged again: Williams said Thursday on Twitter that he was fined for the play. No, really.
And our Andew Krammer reports the fine was $20,054, per a league source.
Williams replied, “wild, right” to someone who commented that the fine was weak.
If the question in the NFL for a few years was, “What is a catch?” the question now appears to be, “What is anyone allowed to do, ever?”
*E-mailer Jim points out an oddity from last night’s Twins 6-4 win over Oakland: Every Twins batter who had an official at-bat had exactly one hit. Not zero. Not two or more. Just one each. Bobby Wilson walked and was officially 0-for-0 before leaving with an injury.
*E-mailer John and I will have to agree to disagree about the Minneapolis Miracle. He writes: “Enough already. There was a ‘Saints Stumble’. He tripped over his own two feet giving Vikes 6 free points and the right to meet a real football team in Philadelphia. No cup cake schedule this year, no cheap shot on Rodgers. Long way from playing in Feb 2019.”
I have a hunch John roots for the Packers. That said, he’s right about this season. The schedule is harder, including two likely games against Rodgers. If the Vikings win 11 this year, it will be an accomplishment.