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Spilled Milk and Skinned Knees

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New rules for football

So I don’t really feel comfortable talking about college basketball seeing as how my bracket is just as bad as the unfortunate stars of Cops—busted. The Pittsburgh Panthers are my last hope, my last final four team remaining and my championship winner so I need them to pull through. Sorry for trying to pick some upsets with Syracuse, Kansas, and Memphis also in the final four. So like I said several times in February, GO PITTSBURGH!

In more relevant issues, it’s officially springtime and I can optimistically say that there will be no more snowfall. However, I will most likely be telling you false—but it’s still nice to hope.

The Coeur d’ Alene Resort Golf Course opens up on April 3 with the University of Idaho tournament. Official opening day to the public will be April 4, where guests can come celebrate the Third Annual Scotch Open Golf Day. Golfers can come joins us out on the course where they can enjoy bagpipes, on course scotch tasting, and food, which will all be part of the festivities.

As the golf course gets underway there are several new changes to the rulebook in the NFL. As we all get ready for draft day this month I have to take a look at what’s different. There are four new rule changes for the 2009-2010 season and they all have been put in place to better player safety. Several years ago players and coaches were all worried about the rules during an onside kick. Because of the colliding players during the play, the new rule change states that during an onside kick, the kicking team may have no more than five players bunched together during pursuit of the ball. Formerly, kicking teams were required to have at least four players on either side of the ball in order to prevent teams from overloading too heavily to one side of the ball. However, the creative special teams coaches around the league figured a way to bypass that with having what was called a ‘bunch.’ This is where the kicking team would have all ten players huddled around the ball before it’s kicked straight ahead, so that all the players could then go after the ball, instead of only half of them. This new rule will prevent that from happening and hopefully keep injuries down during onside kicks.

The second rule change is the elimination of helmet-to-helmet on blindside blocks. Formerly, helmet-to-helmet contact was confined to one player’s helmet being used intentionally to strike the helmet of another player. With the new rule the player introducing the contact may not strike the other player with either his helmet, forearm, or shoulder during contact. This should prevent hits like what we saw when Steelers safety Ryan Clark admitted Ravens running back Willis McGahee into the hospital.

The rule is designed to protect defensive players as well. A wide receiver who has gone downfield during a running play often comes back towards the ball to block unsuspecting defenders. With the new rule the blocking point is lower on the player’s body to prevent players from being blind-sided in the head or neck.

The third and fourth installments of the new rules are more of an extension to the second. There can be no initial contact to the head area of a defenseless receiver with forearm or shoulder with or without possession. This goes along the lines once again with Willis McGahee.McGahee had just caught the ball when he was struck by Ryan Clark in the head with the defender’s shoulder. This will no longer be tolerated and will result in a penalty.

With the fourth section of the rule it states that a receiver who has not made contact with the ball may no longer be struck by a defensive player at all. Once again, this goes to my hard hitting Steelers. I reference when they played the Patriots and I believe it was Ryan Clark again who leveled Wes Welker after a ball thrown in his direction was tipped down by the defense. Before this rule, the defensive player was allowed to take down the intended receiver of a pass after the ball had been tipped. Now the receiver is protected against vicious hits like the one Welker was issued.

Even though the rules have changed to give more protection to players, I still don’t think it’s a good idea to come up across the middle against the Steelers. They are just too amazing.

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Dustin Gannon Dustin Gannon says he's a writer because his mama owns a newspaper. At all other times, he's a sportsman, writing both the Sno Biz column, when he's working at Schweitzer Mountain Resort in the wintertime, and Fore! Play, when he's working at the Coeur d'Alene Resort golf course during the summer.

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