Penalty calls have skyrocketed during the preseason, and one of the NFL's marquee players thinks the league has ulterior motives for the increase in flags.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who has never been afraid to voice his opinion, says the NFL has fantasy football players in mind with new rules designed to reduce illegal contact by pass defenders and defensive holding in the secondary. Through two weeks of the preseason penalties were up 44 percent from last year.
In an interview with NBC’s Josh Elliott that aired on Sunday Night Football, Sherman ties the increase in penalties with the NFL's drive for money.
"When the fantasy football numbers need to be what they need to be, the league needs to do what it needs to do to get it done," Sherman says. "This is a money-driven league. Whatever sells the tickets is gonna sell the tickets.”
While the idea that the NFL would implement a set of rules to enhance fantasy football seems questionable, Sherman may be on to something here. The new regulations are expected to significantly benefit offenses, which will lead to higher scoring games and more interesting fantasy football matchups. So while the crackdown may not be specifically tied to fantasy football, the game and its players will surely be affected.
Sherman and the Seahawks' defensive backfield is coming off of one of the most dominating Super Bowl performances in history. The group, which calls itself the "Legion of Boom," shut down Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos' high powered offense in a 43-8 blowout.
Despite the belief that the new rules, which may make pass interference calls more common, are targeting defensive backs, Sherman says the level of penalties will return to normal by the time the season starts. With Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning on the docket for the Seahawks in the first three weeks of the season, Seahawks fans better hope their star cornerback is correct in his assumption.