We laugh, I think, when wondering when Karl Joseph will get ejected from a game in the coming season — and by “we,” I mean you — but it’s no laughing matter to Joseph. He’s been hearing about the new targeting rule for days now and he knows why.
Joseph knows he’s an aggressive player and a big hitter as much as he knows the new rule has the best intentions. But it’s also awfully subjective and it’s going to be controversial. Joseph thinks it’s just another way to enable the offenses and he things an ejection is “intense.”
The rule is intricate, so much so that Walt Anderson could not manage all the skepticism yesterday, and players aren’t entirely sure what to think. They haven’t been able to meet with coaches or invited officials to understand it. But understand this: They don’t like it because it makes them “look like wussies.”
“It’s frustrating to guys like me who are hard hitters and vicious players,” Dixon said. “We have to slow down. We can’t run to the ball as fast as we can. We can’t hit guys like we want to hit them. We can’t really bring the boom like we want to.”
It’s going to be a mess, whether in the form of slipshod tackling that turns into bogus touchdowns or the controversy that comes from ejections, but it’s coming and probably fast. It’s a point of emphasis this season and coaches and players expect to see the penalties and ejections early because officials are being asked to enforce the rule and to force changes so many dislike.
“This is what we do,” Dixon said. “This is like me telling you, ‘Hey, don’t write down everything I say.’ That’s what you do. We hit guys. We make guys feel pain. That’s what we do. When you take that away from us, it’s like me telling you, ‘Hey, give me your notebook,’ and never letting you use it again because you wrote the wrong thing down.”