Tennessee’s Jackie Battle is the first NFL running back to be fined under the new rule against lowering the crown of the helmet into an opponent.
The NFL has confirmed that Battle was fined $21,000 for a crown of the helmet violation in Sunday’s game against the Texans. Battle lowered his helmet into Houston’s Danieal Manning.
Although the rule has been much discussed, it’s still frequently misunderstood. So we’ll repeat here the exact wording of the rule:
“Article 8: Initiating Contact with the Crown of the Helmet. It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.”
Unfortunately, it seems that the rule has enough gray area that even the pros can’t agree on when it should be called: The officials on the field did not penalize Battle, and when PFT checked with a league source on Sunday about the hit, we were told that the collision wasn’t “clearly outside the tackle box” and therefore the officials were right not to throw the flag.
But after the league office reviewed the hit this week, it was determined that it was, in fact, a crown of the helmet violation. And Battle has the dubious distinction of being the first running back disciplined under this controversial new rule.