Roger Staubach thinks rules changes make NFL "a wussy game"

Hall of Fame Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach played in a different NFL, a 1970s league where men were men, quarterbacks didn’t whine to the refs every time they got knocked down, and wide receivers weren’t calling for flags every time they got touched downfield.

At least, that’s how Staubach remembers it. And he doesn’t think the current NFL has the same standards of toughness.

“I saw Peyton Manning one time and he had a great comeback drive, but he had two 15-yard roughing the passer penalties,” Staubach said, per Tom Lorenzo of FanHouse. “I’m thinking, ‘I don’t ever remember having one of those.’ It’s kind of a wussy game, really, in a way.”

Staubach was one of the best passers of his era, but his statistics look rather pedestrian compared to today’s quarterbacks: Staubach led the league with an 84.9 passer rating in 1978, for instance, whereas that rating wouldn’t have even put him in the Top 15 in 2009.

Staubach said different rules make it impossible to compare his own stats to those of today’s players.

“When we used to run around a little,” Staubach 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].”

Staubach is right that the game has changed a great deal since he played. On the other hand, Staubach has said he suffered 20 concussions in the NFL. If turning the NFL into a wussy game means fewer players getting concussed, maybe a wussy game isn’t such a bad thing.

81 responses to “Roger Staubach thinks rules changes make NFL "a wussy game"

  1. Roger staubach would be on the I.R. 2 weeks into the season against the monsters who play today. They need to control these guys cause theyll kill eachother. In staubachs era even in shape guys werent that strong and strongguys couldnt move fast enough to wreck someone.

  2. MDS – While I agree that it is better the way the game is now for player protection, I just want to give a shoutout to Staubach for specifically calling out Manning, the ever whining and throwing teammates under the bus QB.
    /standing ovation

  3. Roger also forgets that he “bought time” because he was for the most part, being chased by big, fat guys. Not too many back then had the speed and athletic ability of today’s defensive players. The “Dodger” wouldn’t have lasted through half the season if he tried running around that much today. Once the QB starts running, “wussy-ball” rules go by the wayside.

  4. no one touches payton as long as polian is making the rules! the worst call ive ever seen in an important game was the “15 yard roughing the passer” when a Patriot came close to hitting him in the final minutes of the AFC playoff game. absolutely disgraceful. and the league is wondering what to do to make the experience better? how about same rules for everyone!!!

  5. It is a wussy game now. Look at all of the roughing the passer, hitting a defenseless receiver penalties that get called now. London Fletcher hit Dez Bryant Sunday night, while he was still on his feet moving, and they called unecessary roughness on him.

  6. I agree that you can’t compare QBs before and after rule changes.
    However, I wouldn’t call today’s NFL a “wussy game.” There may be more rules protecting QBs but in general defensive players are a LOT bigger, stronger, faster, etc. and much more likely to inflict serious injury and damage with a hit today compared to the past.
    I’m not crazy about all the ticky tack fouls but I do wonder if the quarterback was not protected how many would be walking upright by the end of the year, given the sheer physical power of defensive players nowdays…

  7. When analyzing QBs of bygone eras, you really can’t compare them to QBs of today as far as basic stats go. It’s the same with baseball players, you have to use OPS+ which compares them to the rest of the league and accounts for their respective situations.
    That said, they have developed QB Rating+ and Roger Staubach’s Rating+ of 122 suggests he was 22% better than the rest of the league (100 is average).
    So it can kind of be expected that, if he played in today’s game, he would most likely have posted a QB rating similar to that of Drew Brees, who led the NFL, and had a Rating+ of 122 in 2009.
    And as for his comments…..with all the health issues retired players are facing, Staubach really should shut his fool mouth.

  8. What a shock. An old-time player suggesting the game has gotten soft. Only this time it’s coming from the thoroughly overrated Roger Staubach.
    You know what else is wussy? That ridiculous haircut (or more likely, perm) Roger has rocked for the last three generations.

  9. So now that you have admittted that the NFL is a shell of it’s former self, when are you going to realize that all this stat based over-hype has allowed people who do not deserve to go the HOF, into the HOF?

  10. If turning the NFL into a wussy game means fewer players getting concussed, maybe a wussy game isn’t such a bad thing.
    Enough with all the concussion-sensitivity nonsense.
    Football is a violent game, and people will get injured. You don’t see MMA players/media elites crying about concussions, do you?
    The rules they have regarding QBs now–can’t hit ’em high, can’t hit ’em low, can’t even brush their helmets with a hand or arm, can’t fall on top of them (“Waah! that’s driving them into the ground!”), can’t grab their jerseys and pull them down (“Waaah! You horse-collared me!”), can’t touch them even a NANOSECOND after the ball is gone (with no consideration for the defender’s positioning/ability to be aware if the ball was thrown or not), has just gotten ridiculous.
    A QB should be considered JUST as tackle-able as ANY other player on the field.
    This namby-pamby liberal (yes, liberal) garbage is wrecking the violent beauty and fundamental competitive integrity of the game.

  11. “If turning the NFL into a wussy game means fewer players getting concussed, maybe a wussy game isn’t such a bad thing.”
    should say:
    “If allowing a few players to get concussed means not turning the NFL into such a wussy game, maybe a few concussions isn’t such a bad thing”

  12. Was he drooling as he said this since his atrophied brain neurons struggled to maintain basic motor functions?

  13. Concussions aside, today’s players are likely to sit out a game or two with a hangnail. The Ronnie Lott finger incident is just plain stupid, but does anybody really think the season-ending injury Urlacher had last year would have sidelined Butkis…even for a game?

  14. Oh, you’ve done it know, Staubach. The NFL is wussy? Is treating concussions wussy, Roger? Even as we speak, Mike Forio is composing an angry tweet directed directly at you, Mr. May God have mercy on your concussion0loving soul, Staubach.

  15. Well, He is right. With all the new rules, you cant touch these guys, and dont tell me its for “saftey”. Look at the Brady rule….only put into effect after one of the “elite” QBs gets hurt… mention of such a rule when Palmer had the same injury. Take the golves off and let them play….they are getting paid enough to risk injury. If not, give teh armed forces the money….they risjk their LIVES daily, and I guarentee they would gladly trade places.

  16. He’s right.
    L’il Tommy “Please don’t touch me” Brady wouldn’t have lasted one season back then.

  17. I remember watching him when I was a kid in the 70s and I never liked Dallas at all , but he was one of the toughest QBs I have ever seen play. Either running or passing it he never backed down from a hit or ran out of bounds to avoid being hit. But, the reason the game has changed the most is simple..MONEY! Teams and the League want to protect the high priced QB. He is right about every receiver wanting a flag if they dont make a catch, that crap gets real old. I know the league wants to protect players from being hurt, but Staubach has got a point. Everytime the CB makes a play for the ball they call holding or pass interference. The league wants high scoring offenses so people stay entertained not bored to death with good defense.

  18. according to staubach they also had to walk 10 miles to and from the stadium, uphill both ways. and it was always snowing, even in august.

  19. Roger’s comments lend support to the damage concussions cause. I’m still waiting for one of these ‘throwbacks’ to say something positive about today’s game such as “these guys are so much better than any of us in our day it isn’t even comparable.” Roger, honestly, you got hit by lineman that would be considered average sized linebackers today AND you say you got 20 concussions in YOUR career. Put it together man.

  20. Although I agree for the most part with Mr. Staubach, we wouldn’t have much of a game if “the receivers were still getting pounded downfield until the ball was in the air”. I doubt it really happened that way. I think a lot of these old-timers like to remember things in their own way. Even in old age, trying to defend their statistics, records, and egos.

  21. Who cares about how many concussions they get. They get paid and they get paid GOOD!!!! The NFL is becoming a wuss league. No helmet to helmet… no this, no that. Why even wear helmets then? Lets go back to leather hats. C’mon!!!! I wanna see someone lay someone out, like when Ray Lewis demolished Keller the other night. These guys have to think about HOW to hit someone now instead of just playin the game. It’s ridiculous. Staubach’s right. You can’t compare the stats from then to the guys now. They have completely different rules. Kinda like if the regular season got extended a few games. The stats would be inflated.

  22. Staubach would have had more concussions than that if he played against defensive guys as fast and as big as they are today. The average sized linebacker back then would barely be big enough to play safety today.

  23. @DoughBoyRAC:
    I wouldnt call us a “wussy” nation. We have more pressing issues than toughness.
    The fact we’ve become a “dumb” nation is much more disturbing.

  24. Roger also never faced defensive lines consisting of 300+ pound muscle gym freaks or speedy linebackers who can bench press a car. The game is much more dangerous today than it was in his day. These rules and safeguards are warranted.

  25. talking about wussy, everyone saw Jason Cambell tip toe slide TWICE one yard before the 1st down marker! hahahaha

  26. Today’s players are bigger, faster, and stronger at every position… look at the sack Joe Flacco took against the Jets, It would have killed Joe Namouth… but he got up and went back to the huddle..
    Damarcus Ware, Clay Matthews > Big Daddy Lipscomb, et. al
    Troy Polamalu, Brian Dawkins > Ronnie Lott
    Jim Brown would be mediocre at best.. think Reuben Droughns…
    Roger Staubach would be delivering mail in a small North Dallas suburb..
    And Johnny Unitas would have been permanently soused in a bar after his D-III career didn’t pan out how he planned..

  27. Dick Butkus couldn’t play today. He wouldn’t even make it to a camp as slow as he was. He’s the most overrated linebacker in the history of the game and can’t even compare to Urlacher much less Lewis.

  28. Some of the rules were a bit nutty for a while, but it seems like they have chilled out on the constant pass interference calls, and I bet within the next year or so the same will happen w/the constant QB roughing calls.
    But, he should really STFU. Watch some of the old games on the NFL Network – you did not have people like Vince Wilfork or Kris Jenkins. Many of the greats from that era wouldn’t even fit the body size to make the Detroit Lions practice squad.

  29. I think you’re misunderstanding Staubach’s when he talks about the “wussification” of the NFL.
    I don’t believe Roger was calling for a return of the Deacon Jones head slap; clotheslining; spearing; or any of the other rule changes designed to minimize head trauma. These changes are good and, had these rules been in place during Staubach’s era, wouldn’t have dramatically affected the game or the fans enjoyment of it.
    The changes to the rules that turned wide receivers into prima donnas and handcuffed defensive backs while turning the QB into a precious snowflake are, in my opinion, bad changes and I believe the game is poorer for it.
    When I reflect back to the football I grew up on (and I pre-date the Staubach era so GET OFF MY LAWN!) I remember a game that was a lot more fun. I think the mistake the NFL made was equating increased scoring with increased excitement.
    A few years back I managed to lay my hands on some really poor quality videos of Monday Night Football games from the 70’s and spent a weekend watching them with my son who’s had the misfortune of growing up on football since the 90’s. Afterwards his only questions to me were, “Those games were a lot more fun to watch” and “What were they thinking changing it?”
    I realize that people will argue as to whether the game was better and will point to the increase in ratings. Personally I believe the increase in ratings was inevitable and would have occurred regardless of the rule changes to increase offense which I believe were what Staubach meant when he used the word “wussy’.

  30. I dont by any means agree with the wussy game point. But I will say I hate some of the sissy calls and penalties of today.
    I will also say that old time players calling out todays athlehtes need to STFU. Some of the QB’s of today are stronger and faster than the strongest DL back then. And some of the DL of today are faster than the RB’s of yesteryear, and outweigh them by 50+ lbs.
    This is along the same lines of the 72 Dolphins,. who think they are the greatest team ever because they went undefeated. Again, STFU. They would get beat by 50 points by some of the worst teams in the league today, let alone beat ANY team today.
    Give me a break. Much respect to the old timers, but it goes both ways. To get respect, you gotta give it, which not much yesteryear players give to todays athletes, mostly out of jealousy of all the money being made.
    Now please, old timers. Again, much respect. But go away now.

  31. Monet99……said:
    monet99 says:
    September 15, 2010 2:14 PM
    Nobody cares about Staubach thinks. One of the most overated players ever.
    I have read a ton of STUPID posts on this site, but yours is an all-timer.
    You obviously know NOTHING about football be it college or NFL. We’re talking about Heisman Trophy winner and Super Bowl MVP.
    Staubach overrated? I’ve never heard of a statement that lacks so much basic knowledge or intelligence.
    There’s no point in going on any further when someone says something that stupid.

  32. I agree with most of the comments here. BAck then you werent getting chased by a 275lb man who runs a 4.5
    If you dont try to protect these guys, theyre going to wind up in worse shape than a retired boxer. Some of the rule changes are garbage. But I do agree with protecting the QB a little better than they did in his days. Otherwise these linebackers would be destroying them. It looks cool when you see the hit, but when you look at some of the players from the 70’s just struggling to get out of bed in the morning, its heart wrenching

  33. i’m a huge Cowboys fan but i can’t defend ignorant comments like Stauback made. the players in the new era of Football are machines & they weren’t built like that back in the day. heck even in the last 10 years theres been more dominate players on the field that can dictate a game. QBs couldn’t last a whole season under the old rules, neither would defensless revievers.
    those guys took a beating until the NFL decided that the rules needed to be changed, its still a game that can be played w/ the Xs & Os but seriously those type of hits were taking a toll on the players. even the guys delivering those big time hits are suffering serious injuries.
    its no secret the average OL dies 15 years earlier then the average person that doesn’t play football. Roger the Dodger wouldn’t last 2 games in the new era of the NFL.
    these old school players should hear the hits loud enough up in the suits to figure out why the rules are in effect. concussions are a serious thing especially when they don’t get to recover 100% before taking another big hit.

  34. “Staubach thinks rules changes make NFL “a wussy game”
    As a die hard Skins fan (and yes, it has infinitely tried my loyalty to have Danny Boy Partridge owning them), I must say: “you go, Rodger the Dodger!”
    Staubach is and will always be a warrior. A man of faith, a man of morals, a man among men. A leader in every sense of the word.

  35. Many of the rule changes have NOTHING to do with preventing concussions. Does handing a team an automatic first down on a bump of a receiver after 5 yards when it was 3rd and 20 prevent concussions? Many of the rules are designed to create points. Some are designed to prevent injury too.
    Most try football enthusiasts agree with Roger that the NFL has become so ticky tack that the game is losing some value. No one really argues with rules designed to prevent injury. The issue is creating and enforcing rules that penalize players and change the outcome of games for actions that clearing are not going to hurt anyone. We all know an attempt to injure when we see it. We all also see more penalties called in today’s NFL that would injure no one than would injure someone.
    Bottom line… Fans don’t pay hundreds of dollars on Sundays to watch the referees practice their craft.

  36. A lot of people haven’t had the opportunity to actually play organized football and absorb some of these hits. A lot of them don’t even result in loss of consciousness. Concussions do not feel good……do not feel good at all……

  37. The old timers sit there and whine they don’t get any money from the players today and than don’t want to give them any credit for their accomplishments. Can’t have it both ways Roger.
    Hate to break this to Roger but he wouldn’t even be able to compete in today’s NFL. The players are faster, stronger and hit way harder therefore there needs to be some form of safety to evolve with the change in athlete.
    All these old timers need to STFU. It is no different than when a parent tells their child that their generation has no respect, or the music from their generation was better, or rap music is a fad or my walk to school was harder than your walk to school. Shut your mouth. Times have changed and your time is over. Bashing today’s athletes won’t return you to glory.

  38. FinFan68 says:
    September 15, 2010 2:27 PM
    Concussions aside, today’s players are likely to sit out a game or two with a hangnail. The Ronnie Lott finger incident is just plain stupid, but does anybody really think the season-ending injury Urlacher had last year would have sidelined Butkis…even for a game?
    I don’t know who “Butkis” is–did you mean Dick BUTKUS?
    Speaking of things you don’t know–you don’t know a damn thing about sports medecine, either, apparently.
    The reason Urlacher was placed on IR is because of the specific bone he injured–a dislocated lunate bone, which is the bone that is at the center of the wrist, at the middle of the eight bones. It holds the wrist together, and the risk in not treating the injury immediately, or in coming back before the injury is completely healed is serious, as in “life-altering” serious.
    It could lead to permanent nerve damage and that could affect the hand itself long term, which means effecting its everyday use–writing, driving, beating off, eating hot wings, holding a beer, fingering your girl(boy?)friend, swinging a golf club, etc.
    I agree with your basic assertion, but Urlacher’s dislocated lunate bone is NOWHERE near a suitable example of that.

  39. You know what else is wussy? That ridiculous haircut (or more likely, perm) Roger has rocked for the last three generations.
    I think I just sheet on myself!!

  40. @ myeaglescantwin
    “write” !?!?!?
    Had to be an eagles fan. Enjoy last place this year and take an English class.

  41. “A lot of people haven’t had the opportunity to actually play organized football and absorb some of these hits. A lot of them don’t even result in loss of consciousness. Concussions do not feel good……do not feel good at all……”
    And, as the medical field is just beginning to come to terms with, concussive events are CUMULATIVE. You can get ‘well’ from them, but residual damage remains — for life. Each compounds on the other. I’ve had three – two from football, one from a fight, and some symptoms have never gone away.
    A leader in the field (which as I said is in its infancy):

  42. I hate to admit it but Roger Staubach is one correct Cowboy. In his day they played for the love of the game, today they play for money. And that includes the NFL, owners and players.

  43. Staubach is right, but also consider that the players back then were a lot smaller. I am 6’2″ 230, and I think I could have played offensive line for the Steelers in the 70s.

  44. He is totally right.
    I’m amazed at how often I see a strong play made by a defender and then find myself flinching because I just know a flag is coming…

  45. ” The old timers sit there and whine they don’t get any money from the players today and than don’t want to give them any credit for their accomplishments. Can’t have it both ways Roger.”
    Shuxion: respect your opinion, but with regard to the point above, it would not be pertinent to Roger. He owns one of the largest real estate development firms in the country. Maybe a millionaire 100x over.
    Don’t know him, but from the outside, he appears to be one of the most grounded people related to football. I read that he lives in the same small (relative to other people of his wealth) house he lived in while playing — a four bedroom ranch. Married his wife in his early 20s and their marriage has been strong for over 30 years. And no — he does not have any Roger Staubach II’s, Jr’s, or Rogerettes running around with differing ‘baby mamas,’ a la Ray-Ray Lewis and Gary (I don’t wear a) “Glove” Payton.

  46. Does anyone else remember high school football where if your mouth guard wasn’t in your mouth you were penalized for it? Or if your chin strap wasn’t buttoned up on both sides with both snaps you were forced to snap it up before the play started? I couldn’t help but notice that very few NFL players wear mouth-guards which are scientifically proven to prevent concussions. I also noticed a large number of helmets, including Percy Harvin’s (IRONY) falling off left and right after being hit.
    How about some common sense basic safety steps be taken to actually prevent head injuries rather than pussy footing around with these terrible penalties that ruin the game?

  47. He is absolutely right! I saw a Packer player get hit this weekend by an Eagles defender and the ref called a penalty. The hit was a legit hit and a good football play. It used to be defenders had to be two steps or less away from a defender. Now, the NFL might as well put red jersey’s on the QB’s during games if players aren’t allowed to rough up a QB.

  48. Maybe all those concussions are the reason Staubach sounds so stupid when he speaks. There were not as many defensive players in his day who were as huge, fast , and designed to be human missiles. Defensive players today are so violent that they injure themselves on hits.

  49. I think it’s funny how every one is saying that Roger won’t last in todays game. Good think he played back then. All the defensive players is getting bigger, faster, and stronger. The QBs are getting bigger, faster, and stronger too. They should be able to take a hit without crying about it all the time. I also think the pass interference penalties are crap, these are some of the best athletes in the world and they’re not allowed to attempt to physically dominate the other guy until the ball has touched someone. The NFL is indeed starting to have the shadow of a wuss league.

  50. Hey Roger – in your day the players were much smaller and weaker so the players weren’t getting hit as hard or as dirty. I would love to see the Roger Staubach from the 1970’s play in this era. He’d be out for the season after about 5 miutes of play.

  51. i agree with some of what roger said. Its not a wussy game but its definitely not as tough as it was back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. the NFL got carried away with the rule changes when it comes to PI and illegal contact downfield as well as with Roughing the passer penalties. And now you cant even lay out a defenseless receiver without a flag. How are you supposed to play defense?

  52. staubach is right…the game is pussified..defenseless WR/running into the K/P..those are the kind of penalties that have to go.

  53. Stunning. Goes to prove, once again, that someone brilliant in one field, like a HOF QB, can be a complete idiot in another area. Thinking things through doesn’t seem to be Roger’s forte.
    Of course, it could just be all those insignificant little concussions he suffered.

  54. WhyTF do we have to get a daily opinion piece from ex-quarterback’s?
    Are they designated professor emeritus when they retire?
    Joe Namath criticizes the Jet offence after week one, Sunday morning Terry Bradshaw gives a opening soliquay about how QB’s should act in public and now this old coot.
    Shut up and go away!

  55. If Roger had 20 concussions, I don’t see what the big deal is with them..He appears to have all his wits intact… I mean, the guy built a billion dollar real estate company. He is or is close to being the richest pro football player thats ever played the game… Now that I think about it….if only he would buy the Cowboys from Jerry Jones all would be right in the world and they could become my favorite team again !

  56. “…if only he would buy the Cowboys from Jerry Jones all would be right in the world and they could become my favorite team again !”
    No Shite. If Roger would buy the Cowboys I would consider switching allegiances to the ‘boys. These owners like Leatherface, and Danny Boy Partridge Shiester (Snyder) just make me cringe. We need more owners like the Rooneys and the Maras. Class acts, who hire good leadership and then support them (but are not so insecure as to desire constant media attention).

  57. No kidding Staubach is exactly right. I just finished watching the very first Monday Night Football game on video, between the Browns and Jets in 1970. Its really incredible how much the game has changed. I saw people driving guys out of bounds and pounding them into the turf (out of bounds) – no penalty. Somebody laying on the ground kicking another player in the head with his cleats – no penalty. Receivers getting absolutely mauled while trying to run patters – no penalty. QBs being hit virtually every play – no penalties. And all that with some players still wearing single bar facemasks. Say what you want about todays players being bigger, faster and more athletic, but to say that football is anywhere near the same game now as it was in the 1970’s when Staubach played is a fantasy. Staubach was playing a different and vastly more difficult game for the offense, and comparing his stats to a QBs stats from today is pointless. He was one of the best of his era and a clear hall of famer and that’s the bottom line.

  58. There are QB’s who could have played in any era, Ben for instance. The Manning boys would have played a lot like dear old dad under the old rules.

  59. I completely agree with Roger. The NFL is a shell of itself and it is only going to get worse each year. How they protect the quarterback with all the rules is a joke, how many rules is Tom Brady going to have named after him? That girl whines evertime she takes a hit. Pathetic.

  60. He’s so right, the NFL has turned into a game of hand-waving pansy’s except for when it’s gangster time for ESPN “jacked-up”.
    I’d take Staubach any day over the robot quarterbacks that play today with their pathetic ear pieces.
    The NFL Sucks and it will never be as good as it was back in the day when Fran Tarkenton and Staubach were playing.

  61. There is zero correlation between stopping receivers beyond the five-yard limit and concussions, and it is a huge stretch to say that rules all but isolating quarterbacks from being hit are preventing any concussions. The reality is Staubach is telling the truth – Peyton Manning is succeeding because he’s so weak his GM had to bully the league into stopping real defenses like New England, Tennessee, Baltimore, etc. from hitting him. It’s wrong – Manning should have to man up and take savage beatings if he wants to be a real quarterback.

  62. I think some of the whiny little girls ought to be playing golf so they can’t cry about contact.

    Salaries should be reduced by 90 % and the game changed to where it is headed to become the NFFL

    The National Flag Football League

    which is what it has damn near become.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!