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Jerome Bettis says NFL’s new helmet rule “makes no sense”

bettisurlacher Getty Images

Add Jerome Bettis to the list of current or former NFL running backs who don’t like the new rule against runners delivering forcible blows with the top of the helmet.

“It really makes no sense,” Bettis said today on Mike and Mike in the Morning. “The running back now is going to have some indecision with his helmet and his head. . . . Whenever a running back has indecision, there’s potential for injury.”

Bettis said that when he would lower his helmet during his playing career, it wasn’t his intent to hit an opponent with the top of his head. Instead, lowering the helmet was just a byproduct of lowering his shoulders.

“I don’t put my head down saying I’m trying to lead with the crown of my helmet, I put my head down because there’s trouble on the way,” he said. “I’m putting my head down because I want to get my shoulders lower.”

Bettis also said he worries that officials are going to have a hard time determining what constitutes delivering a forcible blow with the top of the helmet, and what is just an ordinary open-field collision.

“We’re creating so many plays that are subjective for the referee, that before you know it the referee controls the outcome of the game because these calls can go either way, and then the referees start taking too prominent of a role in deciding the outcome of the game,” Bettis said.

That’s the same argument that Bengals owner Mike Brown made in explaining his vote against the new rule. But considering that all 31 other owners voted for the rule, it’s clear that’s not an argument that has a lot of support with the people who make the decisions in the NFL.

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52 Responses to “Jerome Bettis says NFL’s new helmet rule “makes no sense””
  1. thereisalwaysnextyear says: Mar 21, 2013 8:59 AM

    And because 31 owners, none of whom played football, voted for it that means it makes sense?
    They voted based on C.Y.A. legal advice.

  2. skinsrock says: Mar 21, 2013 9:00 AM

    It’ll get real interesting when the first RB puts his head down to force his way through a guy into the end zone & refs start taking away TD’s.

  3. kh221 says: Mar 21, 2013 9:00 AM

    Bettis is right, and with the league touting the merits of this rule it will be called early and often. Since Goodell took over; every hard tackle seems to draw a penalty/fine, celebrations tamed, every turnover is reviewed, every scoring play is reviewed, and now this. Way to take the fun out of the game loser.

  4. vincentbojackson says: Mar 21, 2013 9:03 AM

    Can’t believe I’m saying this…I agree with Mike Brown.

  5. wryly1 says: Mar 21, 2013 9:07 AM

    The helmet was designed and intended for protection, not as a weapon. end of subject.

  6. riceforpres27 says: Mar 21, 2013 9:10 AM

    Wow! Your tellin me the only owner with any sense was the bengals?

  7. ravenator says: Mar 21, 2013 9:13 AM

    I find myself agreeing with a steeler player. Ugh, this rule sickens me.

  8. stillers213 says: Mar 21, 2013 9:13 AM

    The NFL is in big trouble when Mike Brown is the only owner making any sense. What are you doing Rooney?

  9. flash1283 says: Mar 21, 2013 9:18 AM

    I don’t get why this is so hard to grasp. The running back can still lower his head, just cannot use the crown of the helmet as a battering ram (same rule applies to the DB’s). You are taught in Pop Warner to lower your shoulders and hit with your shoulder pads.

  10. jags2daship says: Mar 21, 2013 9:19 AM

    These rule changes are going to make me think long and hard before we renew the tickets after this upcoming season. I dont want to pay to watch running backs get flagged every time they run the ball. When are the owners going to get it right and fire Roger Goodell.

  11. isphet71 says: Mar 21, 2013 9:20 AM

    A RB should be able to lower his head all he wants under the new rule as long as he doesn’t use it to ram a defender. “Don’t use your helmet as a weapon” is the concept, right?

    The defense already isn’t allowed to do so. It makes perfect sense to place the same restrictions on an offensive player. (Even if it doesn’t make sense to place the restriction on either side- at least level the playing field.)

    So why doesn’t the wording of the rule reflect the intention of the rule? Do it over, and do it right, or don’t bother doing it at all.

  12. len462 says: Mar 21, 2013 9:24 AM

    Got my fingers crossed that all you who said that you will stop watching football hold true to your promise. Not even one game has been played with the new rule and so many cry babies.

  13. nzyme says: Mar 21, 2013 9:27 AM

    They are changing enough of the rules where I can see another football league forming in the near future that would challenge the NFL if they keep this up!

  14. bobzilla1001 says: Mar 21, 2013 9:29 AM

    The picture at the top of the page is a classic shot of a classic moment between two of the sport’s all-time greats.

  15. mj1818 says: Mar 21, 2013 9:39 AM

    Owners trying to protect their investments I understand. For once I agree with ravenator this rule is bad. I almost have come to the conclusion that is to try and lengthen the game so the owners can have more commercial time to make more profit.

  16. lambeauleaper says: Mar 21, 2013 9:40 AM

    I listened to this interview and Bettis was spot on. This rule, along with all the others, is WAY too subjective to be officiated with any type of consistency. It will give the officials WAY too much leeway in determining the outcome of games.

  17. bigbenownsthenfl says: Mar 21, 2013 9:44 AM

    Awesome picture of the bus running over urlacher at the goal line. One of my favorite bussy moments!

  18. edavidberg says: Mar 21, 2013 9:49 AM

    This rule is idiotic.

    Unless the officials allow you to still lower your shoulder (and head) and only throw a flag when there is contact with the crown of your helmet.

    But I don’t think it will be enforced that way.

  19. bettis3636 says: Mar 21, 2013 9:53 AM

    Bettis made his living bulling thru anyone who got in his path… And the NFL loved every minute of it… Now it’s a issue?!?! Teams all love the big back system… So now what..?

  20. bigjdve says: Mar 21, 2013 9:56 AM

    For those people complaining, don’t blame the league blame the former players.

    The simple fact is that they are trying to run a business, and now the former employees are trying to sue them for what they are calling unsafe practices.

    Any other company in American having the same thing happen would be doing something very similar. I am not saying I agree with it, but it is what it is.

  21. roastbeefsandwich says: Mar 21, 2013 9:57 AM

    I see a few guys from the offense talking about the rule, but how do the defense feel about it?

  22. dezno24 says: Mar 21, 2013 10:02 AM

    Dumb rule period. It’s going to be weird seeing RB’s next year at combine being timed running sideways leading with their shoulder. Seems like this is how they want you to run now….SMH.

  23. originalsteelcurtain says: Mar 21, 2013 10:10 AM

    This embarrassment of a Commissioner needs to stop changing the rules every 10 minutes.

    Goodell needs to go!

  24. richc111 says: Mar 21, 2013 10:13 AM

    sure it does, when you have people lined up at the door sueing you, it makes all the sense in the world.

  25. richc111 says: Mar 21, 2013 10:16 AM

    Could you imagine how great Dion Sanders would be in the NFL in the coming years. He played exactly the way they will be playing soon. No Contact. Just run around the field and arm tackle everyone.

  26. eatitfanboy says: Mar 21, 2013 10:17 AM

    Pretty sure the people here saying that this rule will end football as we know it are the same ones who said that when the defenseless reciever rules were passed, when the rules protecting the QB were passed, when the kickoffs were moved up, etc etc etc blah blah blah.

    This isn’t the end of football and you certainly aren’t going to stop watching it or not renew your season tickets.

    I so enjoy the annual March parade of the chicken littles every time the league changes a rule. It’s like a ritual of spring.

  27. godofwine330 says: Mar 21, 2013 10:23 AM

    I agree with Mike Brown, the rule makes it hard to officiate. The owners are doing it because they are warding off lawsuits, passing anything with “player safety” attached to it – then muzzle all coaches so they can’t speak against it. How can a running back put his shoulder down without putting his head down? What if a safety is late on the play like last year with Trent Richardson and the Eagles safety? Richardson ran through 2 players before Coleman came in and got rocked.

  28. vottorific says: Mar 21, 2013 10:31 AM

    I believe this new rule is drivin purely from a safety standpoint. Lawyers know the NFL has huge liability with concussions. They are bieng sued by hundreds of former employees. They could lose this whole ball of wax. they know it. No more NFL.. BBUUTT with the rule changes the game will be a shadow of what it once was. We all lose. I hate these new rules. If guys want to knock each others heads off for money and my entertainment, they should be allowed to have at it. I’ll pay to watch.

  29. giantsfanlewis says: Mar 21, 2013 10:31 AM

    This rule makes perfect sense bettis. You know why? Because past players are killing themselves and blame the league instead of the drugs and steroids and because the league has over 1000 lawsuits against it for player safety. This rule isn’t being brought in because good ell wants it to but because the former players are forcing them to. I hate this rule and this rule is forcing me to stop watching football and buying giants gear I blame the former players just as much if not more then goodell and the owners

  30. bengalsucker says: Mar 21, 2013 10:33 AM

    Like others have said, if Mike Brown was the only one with any sense to vote against this, the NFL is in huge trouble. Mike Brown was once voted the worst owner in all of Sports. That is of course before the Miami baseball debacle. So if he’s the only owner making sense, yeah I’m worried.

  31. steves11 says: Mar 21, 2013 10:39 AM

    I’d like to see some statistics on the total number and yardage of penalties called in the 2012 season as opposed to 20 years earlier and get an idea of the impact that all of these recent new rules have had on the length of games and the scoring.

  32. 007xyz says: Mar 21, 2013 10:41 AM

    Fire Roger Goodell already!

  33. thehuckster404 says: Mar 21, 2013 10:45 AM

    Vince McMahon thinks this rule is stupid.

  34. ravenatorridestheshortbus says: Mar 21, 2013 10:48 AM

    It’s as simple as the body will follow wherever the head goes… so the Bus is right, you lower your head and your shoulders will follow. Otherwise you will be decapitated.

  35. mogogo1 says: Mar 21, 2013 10:50 AM

    The end-goal of these rule changes is clear. They’re going to flag any contact where the head is even remotely involved. It’s going to be a total crap shoot whether it’ll be on the ball carrier or the defender and even replay won’t help because all you’ll see is two guys diving into each other.

    And while this rule will definitely hurt the game, the scary part is where they’ll look to “fix” things next. Want to see guys taking shots to the head? Check out the line on any short-yardage running play. I can see the day coming where they’ll ban the 3-point stance.

  36. jamezz23 says: Mar 21, 2013 10:59 AM

    What Trent Richardson did should have been flagged, it puts him in just as much harm. Lowering his head like that could end up getting him paralyzed one day. If you deliver a blow by lowering your head it should be flagged, but there is also a fine line between what should be called and shouldn’t. Its all how the referees see it, which we all know could be huge issue..

  37. cincylaw says: Mar 21, 2013 11:06 AM

    And apparently Bettis also said that he was going to fill out his NCAA bracket tomorrow. Yeah– he hasn’t had one too many shots to the head.

  38. jaylaw344 says: Mar 21, 2013 11:25 AM

    The reasoning behind the rule somewhat makes sense, but the REAL PROBLEM is the discretion that the ref’s are going to have when throwing the yellow hanke. Referees are like judges where each one decides calls or cases differently. In addition, there are going to be disastrous calls including some that will ultimately decide the outcome of more than a few games. I understand the safety concerns; however this rule will create more harm than good. The easy solution seems to be if you do not want players to use their helmets as weapons than take the helmet away. Right or wrong people? (BTW I played RB for 14 years and on a personal level this is just total insanity)

  39. FoozieGrooler says: Mar 21, 2013 11:49 AM

    I think the whole point behind Goodell instituting all these vague rules, is so he can direct the refs to have more control over the outcome of games…

    Confusion rules in Goodell’s world.
    ..and sleight-of-hand officiating…

  40. pftb1ows says: Mar 21, 2013 11:56 AM

    One day I am going to sue McDonalds for all of the Big Macs they forced me to eat.

  41. stangz11 says: Mar 21, 2013 11:59 AM

    At first I hated the rule but then I read the details and came to reverse my opinion. It only applies outside the tackle box and you can lead with your helmet, just not the crown. That just forces players to see what they’re hitting, which in my mind is a good thing. It’ll mean better tackling from defensive players rather than them just trying to blow up ball carriers.

  42. dennisatunity says: Mar 21, 2013 12:10 PM

    We’re looking in the wrong direction for a solution. 1. The League is doing what they have to do because of the potential of lawsuits.
    2. The players and former players are doing what they are entitled to do because of the potential settlement amounts.
    3. The only answer to preserving the game as it was is to work with Congress for exemptions for the NFL from lawsuits from former employees. They have already done that with antitrust exemptions. Lawmakers exempt different businesses all the time from various points of the law. They can do that here, too. The League just has to push it and the fans have to support it. (And it will be made more palatable to Congress if the NFL would take its billions and help out former players from the 40s and the 50s, some of whom are destitute.)

  43. tr5079 says: Mar 21, 2013 12:21 PM

    Don’t blame Goodell or the owners for thee rule changes, blame the players. The lawsuits they are filing after their playing days are over is what is driving these new rules. Why can’t anyone see that?

  44. skinsfanwill says: Mar 21, 2013 12:25 PM

    Another way for the NFL to get some money back for the current looming lawsuit. They are gonna rack up as much player dollars they can in order to pay whoever they have to pay off in that lawsuit.

  45. bigdawgy54 says: Mar 21, 2013 12:38 PM

    Goodell and his rich owners trying to protect their money are ruining the game of football.
    This rule truly has me considering giving the game up. I’m getting sick of the so-called protective hitting rules!
    NFL….”N”o “F”rills “L”eague! Change the name to SFL……SISSY FOOTBALL LEAGUE!
    I see more empty seats in the stadiums.

  46. jtm12180 says: Mar 21, 2013 12:50 PM

    ravenatorridestheshortbus could personally insult me on here, and the comment would get a thumbs-up from me, just for the username!

  47. patswillreign says: Mar 21, 2013 1:04 PM

    Pretty soon diving and stretching for the pylon will be illegal because the runner is in a vulnerable position and cannot protect himself.

  48. melikefootball says: Mar 21, 2013 1:47 PM

    Bettis is correct, the rules continue to take the game of football to a lesser level yet fans have to pay more.

  49. phathead7 says: Mar 21, 2013 4:58 PM

    adrian peterson up the gut tripped up by a lb falling forward the crown of his helmet hits the safety in the chest,is that a penalty?

  50. tomace3 says: Mar 21, 2013 7:30 PM

    I’ve read comments the past few days insulting those of us who disagree with the direction this game is going. Most of these comments fail to attack the actual players and legendary RBs who share our belief that ultimately this game is changing too much. Why don’t you guys go insult Brandon Jacobs, he seems to share my concerns.

    Look, I understand thatplayer safety is a concern, I get it but this is FOOTBALL. If a person feels it’s too dangerous, they should opt to play a less hazardous sport. Football was meant to be played by people who throw caution to the wind, they sign up knowing the risks. Before this concussion thing players, knew they could end up paralyzed, and the possibility brain injuries like Parkinson’s Syndrome could occur, which is why I don’t get these lawsuits by former NFL players. These guys knew the risk of becoming, basically a vegetable (Risks that are way more prevalent in than the suicide thing, hell players shooting people and themselves is more prevalent.)

    Bottom line, if safety is a concern, play baseball and leave football to James Harrison and the like

  51. goodellhatesfootball says: Mar 21, 2013 10:25 PM

    Why is the NFL so intent on ruining football? They are forcing players to go against their natural instincts, and it’s watering down the sense of competition. When I watch a game, I want to see the best football players in the world compete, not the best players who can run in an awkward upright position.

    I understand that the NFL needs to improve player safety but I don’t believe in altering the sport in order to do so — unfortunately that’s what they’ve done. The running-back position has been neutered as they are no longer allowed to initiate contact. T

  52. pizzon says: Mar 23, 2013 10:19 AM

    I guess there will now be a premium put on kickers because there will be so many TD’s taken away because of bs calls, which will increase the numbers of field goal attempts per gm. I cant wait to watch a bunch of 9-6 gms what drama!

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