When it comes to the NFL, both fans and players can agree that no one likes penalties. They tend to slow down the game and are generally not thought of as one of the more exciting aspects of football. Penalties have been a hot topic of discussion during the 2019 NFL season so far. Fans have remained outspoken about their distaste for the increased number of penalties. One of the top NFL analysts, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, agrees with them.
Penalties in 2019 thus far
Before we analyze Troy Aikman’s comments, let’s take a look at the number of penalty flags flying in NFL games in 2019. In a story covering both the penalties and Aikman’s reaction to them, Yahoo Sports did some research on the number of penalties in the NFL so far this year:
“According to NFLpenalties.com, 622 penalties have been called through two weeks of the season. It’s approximately 9.72 flags per game. In 2018, there were 4,069 total flags in the regular season at an average of 7.62 per game. In 2009, per the site, there was an average of 6.64 penalties per game.”
Penalties make the make much more difficult to watch. They disrupt the flow of the game and can make the players adopt a different, less aggressive style if they think refs are targeting a particular penalty.
How current players view the NFL’s officiating
With the NFL losing several high profile quarterbacks to injury early in the season (Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and Nick Foles), there has been a concern that defensive players will get penalized even more for going after quarterbacks. Yahoo Sports covered that in a separate story:
“On the other hand, Jamal Adams complained about his fine for roughing the passer; Myles Garrett questioned an official on one of his roughing penalties on Trevor Siemian; and nearly everyone is trying to figure out what Bradley Chubb did to draw a roughing penalty on Mitchell Trubisky.
Defensive players aren’t the only ones with an issue, however. Even Tom Brady himself tweeted his frustration during week three’s Titans vs. Jaguars game, begging the refs to “Just let us play!!!!”
It’s apparent that there’s a concern from the players that officials are exerting too much control oer the game. But what does one of the NFL’s top analysts think about it?
Troy Aikman’s stance on the number of penalties
In the same Yahoo Sports piece referenced above, Aikman made several comments on the officiating this year on the SI Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina. While Aikman’s status as a Hall of Fame player and top broadcaster distinctively separate him from the average fan, he nonetheless shares their general views on the NFL’s excess of penalties this season:
“I’m sure it’s maddening to watch a game with all the penalties. It’s rare that a play happens when there isn’t some kind of penalty that’s thrown. It’s nauseating from my perspective and … I don’t think those in the game like it, and I certainly don’t think the fans like it.”
Coming from an ex-player, this is a particularly valid perspective. While penalties are no doubt always going to be a part of the game, excessive penalties can impact the quality of the sport.
What’s the solution? The league needs to work with its officials to ensure they’re not calling extraneous penalties. Mistakes will happen, but they need to minimize the number of incorrect flags thrown.