Murphy to serve on NFL's competition committee, safety the key issue

Travis Duncan

Sep 2, 2011
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Packers President Mark Murphy is now a member of the NFL's competition committee, the governing body which proposes rule changes to the league's owners.

“It will be a new experience for me, and I am looking forward to representing the Packers in this capacity on a league level,” Murphy said in a press release.

The original NFL competition committee was formed by Commissioner Pete Rozelle in the early 1970s and included Raiders owner Al Davis, then Bengals GM Paul Brown, and then Cowboys GM Tex Schramm.

It has long been viewed as an extremely influential body in the sport.

Among the biggest issues the committee has is addressing the regulation and or prohibition of performance enhancing, player safety (especially as it relates to concussions and other rules tweaks) and such things as using an extra official in the back field and video replay.

A recent change which came from the competition committee was the decision to modify overtime rules for this year's playoffs. The new rule which was passed by a 28-4 margin gave each team at least one possession in over time unless the team which won the toss scored a touchdown on the first possession.

But the central issue facing the competition committee and in turn the NFL, is to what extent the league modifies rules and how that benefits or limits the offense and flow of the game.

Many fans want to know if the league is really serious about suspending repeat offenders who "lead with the helmet" and what really constitutes an illegal hit. How much does the league care about safety and how much does the league care about scoring and in turn the growing popularity of the NFL even further-yes that is possible the league and its owners believe.

Murphy recently said ( via the Packers official website, "I look at it from the perspective of an executive and to me the highest priority is safety, but I also know you’re never going to completely eliminate injuries. We have an obligation to make the game as safe as possible but without changing the nature of the game,. It’s physical, aggressive."

Most fans do not want to see Arena League like scoring and fear that continued emphasis on player safety will water down the league into a no-defense scoring fest. Some have referred to it as the NFL's "juiced-ball era".

The Packers of 2011 are a prime example of an NFL which people have reservations about. A great offense which appeared to move the ball down the field without hindrance and mostly through the air, combined with a defense which tried to play take away and got beat most of the time. While that formula may still work in the future-this year's Super Bowl Champion the New York Giants, were a defense first team go figure.

It would seem a team of total balance on both defense and offense with good not great execution on both sides, (Steelers, Ravens, 49ers) is a disadvantage. Where recent Super Bowl winners like the Patriots, Saints, Colts, Patriots have shown dominant traits on the offensive side of the ball.

An offensive revolution is coming to the NFL. Can anyone stop it?"

That was the title of an article by David Fleming of ESPN the Magazine, just one of many pieces written by journalists detailing how the on the field product is changing so rapidly but no one seems to notice because TV viewership is shattering everyone single record on the books and revenue is higher than ever.

Fleming writes, "The proliferation of the spread-style scheme in high school and college means there are fewer classic pocket passers in the pipeline. When the well finally runs dry, NFL QBs will naturally evolve into smaller, more durable runners who can handle the physical pounding of the game and throw when they have to. Assuming the NFL creates special roster exemptions, teams might sign four of these new prototypes (think: Tim Tebow), platoon them two at a time like tailbacks or hold one out for safe-keeping until November. Instead of banking everything on one $12 million star, teams will pay four passers $3 million each. And with tougher QBs and less economic risk, they'll be free to run wide-open schemes, like the run 'n shoot, that expose passers to more hits."

At that was in 2009 when Fleming made those predictions.

Roger Goodell at his Super Bowl press conference was asked about the offensive explosion in the league, and he gave the answer you might expect.

Goodell said the league is in a transitional period and that defenses will catch up to the rules changes which have recently made which appear to favor the offense.

Goodell said in part, "I think that what happens in this league is that you make changes in the game, and then there is an adjustment, and then the other side of the ball catches up."

He added, "We may be in that situation where the defensive side will catch up to some of the changes we made on the offensive side of the ball recently. That’s something that’s happened throughout our history. It’s part of what we relentlessly have to do. How do we improve the game? How do we make those changes that will keep the game exciting? We like the idea, and I think fans like the idea of high-scoring football, but most importantly, they like competitive football, and that’s what we had this year. I don’t think anybody could tell you that the quality of the game wasn’t outstanding this year."

Murphy's spot on the NFL's competition and as the President of the team with the league's most potent offense can't be underestimated.

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