Roger Staubach let loose with a few choice words for today's NFL players on Monday when he and a panel of Hall of Famers got together in New York to discuss the preliminary list of nominees to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2011, as well as the Fan's Choice campaign. The campaign provides fans with an online forum to debate and cast their ballot for who they believe should be included.
Staubach was asked a question about whether or not quarterbacks in today's game will be evaluated in the same way that quarterbacks during his era were.
"The statistics today are overwhelming," he said. "I saw Peyton Manning one time and he had a great comeback drive, but he had two 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalties. I'm thinking, 'I don't ever remember having one of those.' It's kind of a wussy game, really, in a way."
He credits some of the bloated statistics to the rules changing over the years. "When we used to run around a little," he said, "the receivers were still getting pounded downfield until the ball was in the air. Today, if you buy a little time, receivers are running free, you just have to find them. So in the passing game [it's] much more [difficult] to separate players, [statistically]."
As it turns out, recent Hall of Fame inductee Jerry Rice didn't like the relatively recent rule changes, either, which severely limit defenders' ability to make contact with receivers prior to a pass. He told the panel that he hated the new rules because he would prefer to have the defensive back up close and physical, so he'd know exactly where his defender was at all times. He also didn't like his quarterback Steve Young scrambling when he was "supposed" to be looking to pass downfield.
"That used to piss me off," Rice said with a smile. "I'm breaking this defensive back down and I got him exactly where I want him. I'm shaking him, getting ready to break him off, get into my route, and I hear the crowd roaring like crazy, thinking Steve is getting ready to throw me the ball. I'm getting ready for it, when I look up and he's right there on my back."
Well, I'm pretty sure we can all agree that Rice still caught his fair share of touchdown passes over his career.