Bengals owner Mike Brown, the only one of the league’s 32 owners to vote against the new rule against initiating contact with the top of the helmet, says he did so because he believes the rule will be too tough for the officials to enforce properly on collisions that happen in the blink of an eye.
“It’s a very controversial change,” Brown told reporters on Tuesday, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I view it as difficult if not impossible play to call. We had a lot of this with the secondary plays last year. I didn’t think those calls were always right. These plays happen in a flash. They’re just a reaction to people: Did he hit him with his shoulder pad? Did he hit him with his helmet? Was it intended? That’s difficult to sort out. I’m not confident we should add another discretionary call. We’re asking an awful lot of our referees to make those kind of calls.”
Brown said he understands the intent behind the rules change, but he would like to see some solid evidence that the new rule will prevent injuries before he’s on board with it.
“We’re all for safety and make it as safe as we can devise,” Brown said. “The issue on this one is hard to measure. Just how much of an impact does it have on safety? There are no statistics in front of us as far as injuries. It makes me wonder if we have properly quantified it to make a decision on it now. In the past we have actions that have crept into the game that have been taken out. In the old days we had the clothesline and then the head slap. They crept into the game and then they were removed and it was good. In this case I don’t know if we are talking about anything that has crept into the game at all. It is something football has had as long as I remember.”
But it’s something football won’t have anymore.