New helmet rule passed unanimously

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It didn’t appear on last week’s (supposedly) comprehensive list of proposed rule changes. By Tuesday afternoon, however, it passed with a vote of 32-0: “Lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet is a foul.”

The rule came from Proposal No. 11 of the Competition Committee, which had made only 10 proposals in advance of the annual meetings.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the process began in Indianapolis, during the Scouting Combine. Last week, discussions continued among the members of the Competition Committee, with Saints coach Sean Payton (a first-year member of the committee) being very supportive of the rule.

As of Sunday, presentations began to be made to coaches and General Managers. Discussion occurred during Tuesday’s meetings, with the vote and announcement delayed to the afternoon due to efforts to firm up the language of the rule.

As of the morning session, however, support for the rule change already was universal among the owners and coaches. Which confirms just how seriously the league is now taking the effort to get the head out of the game whenever and wherever possible.

The fact that the potential change wasn’t known until the change was made invites speculation that the league wanted to make its decision without input from fans, media, and/or hot-take artists who potentially would try to shout down a revision to the rules that will further change, in a subtle but very real way, the manner in which the game is played and, more importantly, how the game looks.

While the goal surely will be to persuade lower levels of the sport to follow suit, the move represents another tangible difference to the game that, if/when enough total differences emerge, could set the stage for an alternative professional league in which all players know the risks, embrace the hazards, and play the game the way it used to be played.

71 responses to “New helmet rule passed unanimously

  1. It’s a good rule for the player’s saftey.. This author makes another dumb statement thinking that rules like these are going to make NFL fans go to some spring league because a lot of these safety rules have been in place for years

  2. I can still see this being miscalled. Most lower their head as they initiate contact with their shoulders. Anyhow…with concussions being such a problem…anything to help is…helpful.

  3. So is it a penalty if a running back lowers his head on the goal line and plows into the pile? Surely the rule doesn’t apply only to defense? A goal line running back who doesn’t run with “forward lean” is not a good short yardage back. These rules sound PC, but they don’t make sense in football.

  4. “Lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet is a foul.” So when the RB lowers his head on 4th and 1 and bounces off the helmet of a NT falling forward to stuff the play, do they both get the boot?

    Just wondering.

  5. WTF!!! Are we playing NFL or the Browns football?!

    just playn but… WTF is football coming to! If you can not lower the head the Niners fans are screwed!

    just playn but…. This is some STUPID RULE! GET PAID MILLIONS YET>>>> DONT TOUCH ME OR ELSE…..whatever.

    Pop Warner Coaches …. Start there, GOOD LUCK!

  6. Do you still drive the 10 ton automobiles from the 50’s with no seatbelt, airbags, etc.? While driving legally intoxicated since there were no laws. Pretty much common sense to me and I thought it would have already been a rule.

  7. If we are so worried about the “Head” why doesn’t the NFL Stop allowing coaches and other players to smack each other in the helmet after a TD or Good Play? If a LB’s hand Barely brushes the head of a QB its Roughing but when same QB throws a TD pass his own players and coaches beat the crap out of him as he walks off the field.

  8. Why not get rid of the current helmets and go back to the leather helmets. Maybe if enough of them get knocked out they will learn how NOT to use their heads as a weapon.

  9. concmike says:
    March 27, 2018 at 10:39 pm
    Why not get rid of the current helmets and go back to the leather helmets. Maybe if enough of them get knocked out they will learn how NOT to use their heads as a weapon.

    If you are lowering your shoulders …. Are you not lowering your head?

  10. The advancement of player safety is imperative and should only be slowed down until I can find something else to occupy my Sunday afternoons.

  11. If it applies to any player lowering their head to get low and bashes the other player in the head, it’s a good rule. Head to head hits are bad. If the defender is already low, and the ball carrier lowers his head and hits the defender, they should be subject to the rule as well. The real issue is simultaneous lowerings; that will be a replay discussion. Maybe both get the heave-ho.

    When I see the nasty hits in a NFL game, I think of the college targeting rule. I’m looking for a flag and a booth review to see if the guy gets ejected. I watch enough college games to be OK with their rule. If somebody lays the wood down on an opponent, then you can bet it’ll be targeting and the guy is gone. But they don’t call it for ball carriers lowering their heads.

  12. So let me get this right. The coach suspended for a year for bounty gate is in favor of player safety? I sense an unknown agenda by a hypocrite. No wonder why they wanted this secret.

  13. Whats the language of the rule? Everyone is for less concussions, but if the language is convoluted (like the catch rule), it will slow the game down, create controversy, and not affect the change it wants. Im not against it, but im wary to find out given the catch rule issues (and continual changes).

    That being said, I want to watch football right now.

  14. damn @calizcowboyz you know baseball players, nba players make like 25% more guaranteed and dont have to risk anything. Makes sense that NFL athletes realize the risk they put themselves at is worth more than baseball players…

  15. There has been a rule in all areas of tackle football for over 70 years that covers this very situation. It’s called spearing and it is supposed to be called when a player used the top of his helmet to initiate contact. Note I say TOP of the helmet.

    Even back then they knew it was unsafe for a play to use the top of his helmet. IIRC it was a 15 yd penalty. The distinction was that it was OK to use the FRONT of the helmet or the forehead and face mask to initiate contact. In fact the idea way to tackle someone back in the 60’s to 90’s was to put your face(mask) into the chest of the ball carrier. It was a safe method.

    If they just ENFORCED the damned existing rule they wouldn’t need to continually complicate the game.

  16. I honestly don’t think this is going to change much. They teach you not to lower your head from the start, real easy to get yourself hurt bad. The Malcolm Jenkins hit on cooks still wouldn’t be a foul – he lowered his head but clearly not to initiate contact with the helmet. I could see some potential impact for the offense at the line of scrimmage but I think rbs usually lower their head to fall forward they usually have their head up when they are going to deliver a blow but do lower their head or appear to lower their head a lot…would be tough to officiate – not sure if this applies to offense.

  17. So basically running the ball became a non-option.

    I’m also going to laugh hystarically when the NFL changes this rule mid-season after Cam Newton gets multiple 15 yard penalties and ejected because he decided to take out a small DB on a option play.

  18. If you are lowering your shoulders …. Are you not lowering your head?
    ————————-
    “See what you hit.” Or, as I’ve heard it rephrased, “When you lower your shoulder, you raise your head.” Ask Eric LeGrand. You should be hitting with your shoulder, not your head. And if you hit with the crown of your head, you may not get to hit anybody else again.

  19. “If you are lowering your shoulders …. Are you not lowering your head?”

    Pretty sure they mean lowering the head relative to the shoulders, thereby turning oneself into a spear. Did you really not infer that?

  20. Don’t like the Wimpy rules and I definitely don’t like the stupid choreographed celebrations!

  21. calizcowboyz says:
    March 27, 2018 at 10:51 pm

    If you are lowering your shoulders …. Are you not lowering your head?
    =====================================================================

    Actually proper form is to BEND KNEES (squat) so the head stays “up” in perspective to the “direction” the tackler is looking (thats what they mean.) It IS the better way AND you wont be as easily paralyzed – a very real possibility if you are looking “down” when making contact.

  22. Rugby has far less player injuries but more referee injuries from player attacks – interesting stat
    In favor of going back to leather helmets
    but doesn’t this rule totally remove the QB sneak play?

  23. I wonder if this will lead to more neck injuries. A head / neck with neutral alignment in relation to the torso is a stronger / more stable position for the neck and neck muscles. However, this neutral alignment results in a slight head down position whenever the football player leans forward.

    A sharp increase in neck injuries may be the unintended consequence of this rule.

  24. About time. Why was it a penalty when a defensive player lowered the boom when a running back was allowed to do it? Do I enjoy the softness in football? No. But that’s reality. As long as I can bet on game I can live with it. However once my wager is lost, off goes the TV where before I would have stayed to watch and enjoy hard hitting raw toughness. Now it’s all flags commercials and dancing/prancing after every first down.

  25. They just outlawed the very thing that makes football football. It will be interesting to see how strictly they are going to police it and whether they will get Nike to make some eyecatching team logo flags to put on the uniforms.

  26. Fan InDenial says:
    March 28, 2018 at 2:36 am

    Rugby has far less player injuries but more referee injuries from player attacks – interesting stat
    In favor of going back to leather helmets
    but doesn’t this rule totally remove the QB sneak play?

    ————————————————————————————–

    Sorry to burst your bubble but anyone recommending leather helmets is just recommending people should die on the field like they use to quite regularly. The big difference between rugby and football is you don’t fight for every yard in rugby to stop first downs as you just need to tackle the opponent anywhere outside the goal. Next is in football the players especially receivers are always looking back for the ball and are quite open for big hits which is almost never the case in rugby

    If your talking about head injuries Rugby is not much better off than football. In the most extensive study conducted comparing rugby and football, an Auckland University of Technology group examined the number of catastrophic incidents resulting in paralysis or death in sports between 1975 and 2005. It found that, other than in England, where injuries were fewer, rugby incidents worldwide caused 4.6 catastrophic injuries for every 100,000 players. Football had 75 percent fewer, at 1.0.

    The World Rugby Organization commissioned its own Auckland University study in 2012, examining 485 men, and that study concluded that players who had suffered four or more concussions fared worse in mental and physical testing.

  27. I’m sure the gallery is highly disappointed that this wasn’t a Goodell rule and they could spend the next year roasting him on blogs.

  28. I played football, I’ve had a host of injuries including three concussions. I did not let my son play, nor will any of my Grand Kids. The sport needs to get safer. More and more parents are becoming like me. You can see it happen now, the owners are trying to save their biz.

  29. NFL preaches and backs the youth league of USA Football Heads Up program. The problem until now they never practiced that philosophy. You get fundamentals from some guys who are great tacklers, but for the most guys in this league are lazy about their craft and looking to get the first contract out the rookie contract so why bother on techniques. Personally feel any lowering the helmet and driving the the body towards the person using a tackling or hitting method should be ruled as a foul. The next foul on the same person ejection(same game). I think college calls it “Targeting” it has worked to a point in college. The NFL need to be much clearer and defined rule. The guys who say Duh let them play football are guys who need to go under concussions protocol. This Rule is self preservation for the NFL

  30. tb12greatest says:
    March 27, 2018 at 10:29 pm

    Why didn’t the league apply this new rule to the super bowl when Malcolm Jenkins cheap shotted Brandin Cooks but did it for the catch rule?

    35 77 Rate This

    ———————————————-

    So what your saying is the NFL came up with another rule to help the Patriots? Hasn’t that happened enough already?

    Also Malcom’s hit on Cooks was clean and it was Cooks fault for not paying attention this is the NFL you can’t try to get cute like that or you pay for it.

  31. If I crash into someone with my head tipped up so the crown of my helmet doesn’t hit them, won’t I break my neck?

  32. patfanken says:
    March 28, 2018 at 12:25 am
    There has been a rule in all areas of tackle football for over 70 years that covers this very situation. It’s called spearing and it is supposed to be called when a player used the top of his helmet to initiate contact. Note I say TOP of the helmet.
    ——————————

    Yes! This, exactly! Spearing isn’t called anymore, and it happens many times in every game. How about every time we see a defender diving at a sliding QB (an incredibly dangerous play)? How about guys who dive in on the pile at the end of plays?

    Proper tackling technique solves a large number of safety issues – of course not all, that will never happen, it’s a dangerous game – and they should practice tackling without pads, like rugby players do. Focusing on wrapping with your arms and getting your head in front of the ball carrier – too many guys shoulder-bump or just dive to tackle these days.

    Player safety should be a primary concern. I don’t know why anyone would be against this. If you’re so bitter that a bunch of guys from poor backgrounds make lots of money playing a game then your problems go much deeper than football rule changes.

  33. Well, it’s going to be a sport that they market to us, but it’s not football anymore. I guess we’ll get excited when our teams win still, but it won’t be the same sport we played growing up. Honestly, and I’m not saying this to be reactive, but there are other things to do on Sundays than watch a bunch of guys run sprints for three hours.

  34. Seriously, some of y’all on here wondering “how they’ll tackle” or complaining that this is ruining football must never have played. Spearing guys with the crown of your helmet isn’t a key part of football and eliminating it is long overdue.

  35. I guess the owners decided they had enough money? A league that’s losing viewers by the millions is once again alienating the audience. Very smart.

  36. So what your saying is the NFL came up with another rule to help the Patriots? Hasn’t that happened enough already?

    Also Malcom’s hit on Cooks was clean and it was Cooks fault for not paying attention this is the NFL you can’t try to get cute like that or you pay for it.

    __________________________________________________________

    You’re missing the point, Eagle. We now have numerous sources saying the NFL changed the catch rule in the MIDDLE of the super bowl. The Ertz and Clement “touchdowns” would not have counted during the regular season. They did in the Super Bowl. So my question is, why didn’t the NFL apply the new helmet rule in the Super Bowl when it did the new catch rule? Regardless of whether Jenkins hit Cooks cleanly or not under the old rules, it would have been a penalty under the new rules.

    BTW, congratulations on winning the super bowl. You needed help from the league but you did it!

  37. Sorry but this is another subjective safety rule that takes away from the game and will lead to more review/delays and controversy. It’s no longer about the game on the field and becoming too difficult to watch. bring on the XFL, let the players sign a waiver and hopefully they WILL take over the NFL.

  38. So with this in effect, Ryan Shazier and Ricardo Lockette should have both been flagged in addition to being carted off the field to end their careers?

  39. The NFL will “enforce” the new rule the same way they did the spearing rule that has been on the books for years. It’s a sympathy grab with no teeth.

  40. TB12greatest

    The Clement and Ertz touchdowns would have counted during the regular season. Clement, there wasn’t enough evidence to overrule, which is consistent with that play. Ertz had possession, made several steps and broke the TD line- again consistent with the year. You can’t accept Collingsworth’s bad call as fact.

    There’s nothing wrong with trying to make things better- especially with safety. The biggest issue is the subjectivity which this rule will be applied. The league will find a way to hurt teams with it and at the end of the day, players will still get hurt.

  41. I guess backs like Legarette Blount are done. There is no way for a RB to initiate contact 5 yards past the LOS without lowering your head. What should he have done in the SB, when a safety is squaring him up at the 5? Try to juke him? Is that the only option now? Or just stand straight up and let someone destroy your body?

  42. Another example of what is and isn’t a catch now you want the officials at full speed to call this new rule.. The officiating as ruined the game because of the inconsistent calls of each crew . Out football back in the game, if the NFL wants to watch every play to eject a player than what aren’t they seeing that causes a team to win or lose. To many rules that are total judgment calls and we all have witnessed that has not done well n the past.

  43. The NFL rule book is now so thick and complicated and confusing they are repeating themselves. They don’t even know their own rules. Officiate that.

  44. campcouch says:
    March 28, 2018 at 6:58 am
    I’m sure the gallery is highly disappointed that this wasn’t a Goodell rule and they could spend the next year roasting him on blogs.

    ————————
    Why cant we just roast him anyways?

  45. Pretty simple…anytime a player is hit and the crowd goes ahhhh or he doesn’t get up immediately there is going to be a penalty. No matter the if the contact was initiated with the head or the shoulder…

  46. tb12greatest says:
    March 28, 2018 at 9:19 am
    So what your saying is the NFL came up with another rule to help the Patriots? Hasn’t that happened enough already?

    Also Malcom’s hit on Cooks was clean and it was Cooks fault for not paying attention this is the NFL you can’t try to get cute like that or you pay for it.

    __________________________________________________________

    You’re missing the point, Eagle. We now have numerous sources saying the NFL changed the catch rule in the MIDDLE of the super bowl. The Ertz and Clement “touchdowns” would not have counted during the regular season. They did in the Super Bowl. So my question is, why didn’t the NFL apply the new helmet rule in the Super Bowl when it did the new catch rule? Regardless of whether Jenkins hit Cooks cleanly or not under the old rules, it would have been a penalty under the new rules.

    BTW, congratulations on winning the super bowl. You needed help from the league but you did it!

    ————————-
    The Ertz play was a TD then and would have been before, it had different elements than the James play I think you are comparing it to. Also, the Clements play I did see the still that got produced days after the game that showed it wasnt a catch. But that was days after the game. During the game and the review I did the same straining every Pats fan was doing trying to see a reason to not call it a touchdown and it just wasnt there. I would bet I was trying harder than the league to see it too so I cant point fingers at them if they didnt. That it took days for someone to finally locate and produce that still picture speaks to how hard it was to find. And that a single still is all anyone could do tells you just how fleeting it was. So the refs and even replay officials did their jobs that day as well as anyone can expect them to.

    I will add that as a Pats fan I find it embarassing to see anyone fingerpointing or making excuses. We played one hell of a great season and an exciting season and have plenty to feel goid about, but we got edged out at the end. It happens. Such is football and thats why its so exciting. Kudos to the Eagles and we will see everyone next year.

  47. So will all those receivers who drew helmet to helmet penalties because they lowered their heads right before a defender hit them now be penalized instead? Will both players?

    Its like they go into the morning meeting at 345 Corruption Ave and the first question they ask every day is “how can we make the game worse and more confusing to the fans?”

  48. Cool. Now the refs have another call they can make on almost every play
    to go along with holding. Just what the game needs – more flags.

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