As every NFL fan knows, last season was a rough one for the referees. With the addition of replay review for pass interference calls for 2019, it figures to be much, much worse for the zebras this season. It's hard to blame them for it though. All they're trying to do is go by the rulebook, which has made it seemingly impossible for defenses to stop the offense.
One of the prime examples of this occurred on Thursday night in Canada, where the Green Bay Packers and the Oakland Raiders faced off in the third game of the preseason for both teams. Late in the fourth quarter, Raiders quarterback Nathan Peterman lofted a checkdown pass to running back Mack Brown on 2nd and 7, basically setting him up to get clobbered. That's exactly what happened, as Packers linebacker Brady Sheldon came flying into the backfield to light him up. To be fair to the officials, first look at the play in real time, which I was only able to find this grainy YouTube video of:
In the new NFL, where every injury is treated like someone is heading to their death bed, I can see how the referee had a knee-jerk reaction and threw the flag for unnecessary roughness here. Ten years ago, it's a good hard hit from Sheldon. In 2019, it might get him 25 to life.
Upon closer look, and by closer look I mean this GIF of a different angle of the hit, this looks like the softest call of all time. Take a look for yourself:
From this angle, this looks like one of the better form tackles you'll ever see from Sheldon. I know it's not at full speed, but that GIF is also not in slow motion, and Sheldon does not make head-to-head contact, he gets low, drives his shoulder and wraps up. It's everything they teach you on day one of tackle football when you're a kid, it just looks bad because it's a freaking NFL player running at full speed and making a good hit.
Alas, 15-yarder for Sheldon in the new NFL, which is looking more and more like it's going to become two-hand touch within the next 10 years. Better yet, just cancel the sport entirely.