Orlando, Fla.: NFL owners shocked the world on Tuesday, passing a new NFL rule that will penalize a player 15 yards, and lead to possible ejection, for lowering his head to initiate, and making, contact with his helmet against an opponent. The rule will apply to runners and even blockers, in addition to the defense.
In a typical NFL play in 2017, especially on a short yardage running play, any number of violations of this new rule potentially would have occurred. On such plays, lineman, both offensive and defensive, launch at each other with their helmets down hoping to gain a small advantage over their opponent. Will that now be a “helmet rule” violation, or will it be exempt because their heads start in a “down” position?
More clear, it would seem, would be an ensuing collision between a linebacker and running back at the goal line, where both players lower their entire body, helmet included, in anticipation of contact. Presumably each could be assessed with a personal foul (offsetting) and subject to potential objection.
Notable football geniuses believe the rule could have far-reaching effect on the way the game is played. Kevin Seifart of ESPN states that it is “more significant and far-reaching than the NCAA’s targeting rule.” However, Seifart also notes that almost 50% of helmet-to-helmet hits caused a concussion in 2017, according to NFL research, trending quickly upwards from a 33% ratio in 2015. It is unclear whether that increase is based on greater awareness, or something more fundamental (such as player size, how players approach tackling opponents, and the like). Nevertheless, potentially draconian or not, this is a move the NFL probably had to make. This writer, for one, applauds the owners for taking the lead on player safety for once, rather than leaving it to the amateur leagues.
In the meantime, let’s remember James Starks exacting revenge on noted asshole Brandon Meriweather, who had previously knocked Eddie Lacy out of the game. RIPIP this type of play: