QB’s, PED’s and Evolution Of The Game


Peyton Manning uses PED’s.  So does Ben Roethlisberger.  Kurt Warner used PED’s for many years as well.  All own Super Bowl rings.  The game’s greatest wide receiver Jerry Rice admitted to going further than just using PED’s, even using banned substances.  By PED’s, of course I’m referring to Performance Enhancing Devices, otherwise called gloves.

Manning is 6-foot-5 and has been wearing gloves for all games, regardless of weather, for a few years now, helping him improve his throwing abilities or I’m sure he wouldn’t wear them.  Roethlisberger, likewise, is a big, tall, strong 6-foot-5 guy and needs some help holding onto the ball quite often.  Kurt Warner was a bit smaller in stature, had a slightly lower release point that would emphasize his ability to grip the ball even more than the other guys.

The helmet that Roger Staubauch played in was quite different than the one I wore in the 1990’s, improved in many ways.  Today, helmets have evolved to lighter, but stronger versions with some high-tech padding and some are even monitoring the power of hits, all to improve the safety of the player and the quality of the game on the field.

The game has evolved greatly in recent years to achieve many different outcomes.  The rules have changed to improve offensive output and they have succeeded greatly, with the season passing records being smashed regularly.  The kickoff position was moved back more than once so that more kickoffs would be returned.  As the turn to player safety came to the forefront, the kickoff position was changed again, this time to reduce kickoff returns and it worked fabulously, making this part of the game one of the most boring parts.   Hits of the past that were applauded and made into income producing videos are now fined and can even draw suspensions.

So if equipment can evolve over time for player safety and comfort and rules can be changed to enhance different parts of the game, could the air pressure in the ball be reduced to lessen the discrimination against the small-handed?

I mean, arguably the best quarterback in NFL history is accused of liking the ball at a lower pressure than what is currently allowed.  If he believes it improves his throwing ability, possibly giving him better grip or some other advantage, shouldn’t it be considered that it would improve the game for other quarterbacks as well and the overall product to the fan?  The referees handle the ball between plays of every game, including the AFC Championship game that has made this question the biggest issue in America.  If they never noticed that the balls felt funny or flat, is a lower pressure better for the league?  Who determined what the “correct” ball pressure should be anyway?  Is it possible that the NFL has it wrong on the optimal football air pressure and needs to evolve on this issue as well?

I have heard it in different media outlets that it was, in fact, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady that pushed for a rules change, allowing each team to have their own supply of game balls versus the way it had always been done, with both teams using the same ones.

Can the game not evolve for the better by allowing even the small-handed player to have a better chance to compete without resorting to PED’s?  And while we are on the subject, should gloves be allowed in the game at all, as they certainly enhance receiver’s ability to catch the ball?  Is it crazy to think that Odell Beckham Jr. probably wouldn’t have caught that amazing two-fingered grab without gloves, stickum and probably an under-inflated ball?  To me, it is “more likely than not” (like the evidence presented in the Brady case) that Beckham Jr. simply needs to be investigated for the integrity of the game.  If Jerry Rice used stickum when it was banned before he ever entered the league and never paid a price for it, except for a handful of Super Bowl wins, why wouldn’t Beckham Jr. and every other receiver today do the same thing?

America is evolving incredibly fast on multiple social issues and Roger Goodell really needs to evolve here as well, for the good of the game.  Goodell has suspended Tom Brady for four games, fined the team and taken away draft picks from the Patriots.  Shouldn’t he now step up and negate every catch that Jerry Rice made and revoke his Hall-Of-Fame induction?

If he really wants to protect the integrity of the game, a wholesale look at PED’s needs to be addressed, and maybe even an evolution to a slightly softer ball and have receivers get their hands tested for stickum after every play.  Before you call me names and other things, realize my tongue has been firmly planted in my cheek for this entire article!

About Jeff Carlson

Jeff Carlson

Former NFL quarterback, training youth QB's in Tampa, Florida. Football Analyst for Bright House Sports Network and Football Insiders.