Some people think the NFL excessively protects quarterbacks, taking too much of the contact out of football and making it a league full of glory-boy passers who whine to the referees every time they get touched.
John Madden is not one of those people.
In fact, the Saints bounty investigation has Madden, the Hall of Fame coach who had a three-decade career as a broadcaster, telling Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times that he’s more certain than ever that quarterbacks need more protection. As co-chair of the safety panel that advises NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Madden would favor changing the roughing the passer rule to make it more like roughing the kicker: Once the quarterback has released the ball, you can’t touch him.
“They just let defenders beat the hell out of those guys after they throw it. We don’t let them touch a punter or kicker after a ball leaves his foot,” Madden said. “We need the quarterbacks. It’s a passing league and a quarterback-driven league. We need the Peyton Mannings in football uniforms out there playing — the Tom Bradys, the Drew Breeses, the Philip Riverses — we need those guys instead of them standing on the sideline.”
Madden’s Raiders played some rough, tough football, but he thinks what the Saints were doing was beyond the pale.
“The cart-off and knockout and those things, that surprised me,” Madden said. “I didn’t think that was in the culture. Obviously, it doesn’t belong in the culture, and I know the commissioner is going to get it out. If you’re going to hit someone, it’s usually a quarterback. So I think we have to really watch the quarterbacks and protect them. I know all about the ‘they wear skirts’ B.S., but we really have to protect them.”
Madden is confident that Goodell will come down hard in the Saints case and send a message that reverberates through the league.
“When [Goodell] does something and he gets them — and I don’t know what the discipline is — but I’ll tell you what, when he puts some teeth in the rules or whatever he’s going to do, it won’t happen again,” Madden said. “It will be gone.”