Levi's Stadium

New NFL and Santa Clara rules/laws: be careful what you do with a football these days

Levi's Stadium Pedestrian Bridge

Today was not a good day for proponents of football freedom. As in, what one can do with a football. The NFL created a rule that makes “dunking” one over a crossbar an automatic 15-yard penalty. The powers that be in Santa Clara are preparing to pass a law governing the use of footballs that’s even more ridiculous. More on that in a bit.

It all started last season when Jimmy Graham celebrated with a dunk and knocked the goal posts off-kilter in Atlanta, causing a delay. And when safety is an issue, the NFL always acts swiftly. Have you seen the rates at which goal posts are suffering concussions these days? It’s some scary stuff, I’ll tell ya.

I haven’t seen whether layups or fadeaway jump shots (Vernon Davis’ preferred method after getting rejected by a crossbar a while back) will be prohibited.

Jokes aside, this silly rule was joined by a more prudent one banning “roll up” blocks to the side of a defensive player’s leg. So the NFL got something right and opened themselves up to ridicule in the same week.

The same can be said for Santa Clara’s police department, which according to the Mercury News “has laid out a new set of laws, set to be passed by the City Council Tuesday night, for what 49ers fans can’t do at the $1.3 billion stadium, which comes with its own jail and will be patrolled by more than 100 cops from around the Bay Area.”

Sounds serious.

“The following acts are prohibited for fans inside and outside the stadium,” so don’t even THINK about breaking any of these laws, mister (or Mrs., Ms., etc.):

  • No throwing objects — liquid or solid, including footballs — or causing anything to “become airborne”
  • No exploding anything — including smoke bombs, stink bombs, or anything “repugnant or disgusting to the eyes or sense of smell”
  • No birds, fish, reptiles or animals, except guide dogs
  • No urinating or defecating anywhere except the bathroom

It’s hard to argue with the last three, but that first one seems a bit extreme. Has our society become so litigious that playing catch is now a crime? (Yes, of course it has.)

Are fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, future quarterbacks as well as armchair ones, so inaccurate that we need laws to to protect every Tesla parked near Levi’s Stadium? (Apparently the SCPD thinks so, and everyone knows how much people love a shiny Model S in Silicon Valley.)

Inside the stadium, sure. Throwing objects — including footballs — around other fans or onto the field should not be tolerated. But are cops really going to be confiscating every pigskin outside Levi’s, be it an officially branded leather model or even a feather-light Nerf Turbo, and writing tickets? (Sure sounds like it. Maybe this means fans will start bringing soccer balls to 49ers games, because those can be passed back and forth without necessarily becoming “airborne.”)

I’d love to know what Jim Harbaugh, who seems intent on playing catch with every quarterback alive, would think of this rule. Maybe he can throw a ball around with fans outside the stadium before a game this year in protest, while leading a chant of “HELL NO, WE WILL THROW.”

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