Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/17/12
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Recently, Ed Reed said the NFL is becoming a powder-puff league because of the new rules installed by commissioner Roger Goodell. That may be giving the league too much credit — the NFL is turning into a Pop Warner league. The controversy surrounding Pete Carroll the last two weeks has been ridiculous. The Seahawks’ head coach has been accused of running up the score against the Cardinals and Bills the last two weeks by putting up 58 and 50 points against those teams respectively. Seattle beat the Arizona by 58 and Buffalo by 33. The latest issue on the public’s mind is that the Seahawks ran a fake punt while already up by 30 points early in the fourth quarter while facing a 4th-and-4 situation. Seattle converted the fourth-down situation when punt protector Chris Maragos audibled into a direct snap, which he then handed off to fullback Michael Robinson for a 29-yard gain. It was supposedly on Carroll to remove the audible — which Maragos called based on the Bills’ special teams alignment. Carroll said he felt bad about the play and that he should have removed the audible, but he didn’t go so far to apologize — and he shouldn’t have to. It’s not Carroll’s fault that his team was able to put up 50 points against his opponents, nor is it his responsibility to save the Bills’ players or coaches feelings. If anything, it should be  more insulting for the opposition if Carroll and his Seahawks simply rolled over and quit trying as soon as they built their gigantic lead. These are professional players, and if they want to stop the Seahawks’ offense (or special teams), that’s their responsibility. Against the Cardinals, Carroll was blasted for continuing to throw early in the second half after they were already up 48-0. The Seahawks had inserted their backup quarterback Matt Flynn into the game. FOX color analyst and former player, Tim Ryan, was especially offended by Carroll’s decision. That’s even crazier than the uproar over the fake punt. Carroll had done his due diligence to avoid offending his NFC West mates by taking out his starting quarterback. It was obvious Seattle wanted to get Flynn some in-game practice, so what good would it have done them to make their backup hand the ball over again and again? If players, analysts and coaches are going to complain about teams running up the score, then they should also be arguing for a Pop Warner-style mercy rule. Surely, everyone would scoff at that idea, no? So why is the better team supposed to let up if their opponents also won’t? On Sunday night, the 49ers had built a 28-point lead on the Patriots by the third quarter. The Patriots came back to tie the game mid-way through the fourth quarter. The 49ers weren’t worried about running up the score, nor should they have been. In the NFL, anything can happen on any given Sunday, and if a player or coach can’t handle a good old fashioned beating once in a while, then maybe the sport isn’t for them. If a team is good enough and their opposition is bad enough to put up 100 points, let them. There should be no letting up in the NFL. Every team is given the same opportunity to draft and build their team. There should be no mercy rule — official or unofficial.
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