At Cowboys event, Darren Woodson rips NFL’s new lowering the head rule

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Darren Woodson is the leading tackler in Cowboys franchise history, but he wonders how today’s player are going to make tackles at all, after the NFL passed a new rule banning lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet.

At an event sponsored by the Cowboys, Woodson bashed the rule (which Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and all 31 other owners supported) as unrealistic for the game of football.

“The way the rule is written right now, it’s basically saying that if any player that lowers their head – offense, defense, quarterback, it doesn’t matter who it is – if any player lowers their head and receives or dishes out contact, that player will be either fined or ejected,” Woodson said, via the Cowboys’ lifestyle website. “That’s the way it’s worded. The rule could include a running back who is going through a hole and lowers his head. There is no way you can play football like that. That’s why I think they’re going to back this rule down a little bit and the wording is going to change a little bit because you can’t play a game in the National Football League without lowering your head. If you’re running the football, or you’re making a hit as a defender, your natural reaction is to pull your head down. Maybe not pull down all the way to make contact with the top of your head, but to pull down your head to brace yourself. That’s the natural reaction.”

Woodson’s reaction has been a common one among players. Unfortunately, the NFL really hasn’t explained what this new rule entails, and so there’s really no way for anyone to know just how players are going to play football without lowering their heads. Perhaps with time we’ll see that the rule is manageable — or perhaps we’ll see that Woodson and the rule’s other critics are right.

49 responses to “At Cowboys event, Darren Woodson rips NFL’s new lowering the head rule

  1. but all the coaches in the comment section said the proper way to play football is with your head up. who am i to believe? my eyes in combination with a former probowler, or johnny try hard in the comment section

  2. I am so tired of football players whining about changing rules for safety. The fact is you can tackle without delivering a blow to the helmet or using yours as a battering ram. The fact you whine really shows you were not much of a professional as was first thought.

  3. Albert Breer actually talked to coaches (two former DCs and one former OC)

    Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “You slide your head to the side, keep your head up and try and squeeze through your shoulders and your neck. The plays that they showed, head down, going in like a torpedo, no one’s teaching that.”

    “With [tackling], it’s not going to be the adjustment that you think. Everybody’s teaching in that regard already,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said.

    Said Eagles coach Doug Pederson: “I think this is a rule that’ll eventually remove those egregious plays, those head-hunting type plays. It’s not gonna eliminate me tackling you in the box, the head-to-head combat there, the collisions. It won’t eliminate that. But to get what they’re talking about out of our game? It can be taught.”

  4. I don’t think the rule will be used in such a way, unless against the Pats to cheat, which is why lawyers love grey areas for rules and laws.

    Fact 1: You need to see your target as you tackle. That’s basic fundamentals.

    Fact 2: Way too many players dole out insane cheapshots to people running the withe ball, when they could easily target the chest.

    Sick and tired of the hypocrisy on this topic.

    Too bad Article 46 Goodell didn’t change this rule in SB 52, because Jenkins on Cooks should have been an ejection.

    If the concept is to protect from CTE, why are the exceptions on certain parts of the field?

    Ryan Shazier is paralyzed today, because he didn’t know how to tackle properly.

  5. “That’s the way it’s worded. The rule could include a running back who is going through a hole and lowers his head.”
    ————————

    Uh, no. If the RB is lowering his head THROUGH A HOLE, then by definition, he’s aiming at open space, which is legal if contact is made incidentally. As long as he’s not intiating contact, it’s not a penalty.

  6. It continues to be a wonder just how most of these NFL owners got to be billionaires, with all of the confusion and idiocy that they propagate in their game?

  7. “but to pull down your head to brace yourself. That’s the natural reaction.””
    ———————

    Again, that is not a penalty according what they’ve said. It is ONLY when a player lowers his head as a weapon or battering ram is it a penalty. Ducking or bracing has always been incidental contact and never called on the field as it happens on every play multiple times.

  8. Don’t worry. That rule doesn’t exist in college football, and will not exist in Vince McMahon’s XFL next year. If Vince can lock in a few lucrative TV contracts, they may be able to coax away top talent from college football to the XFL rather than NFL. The reasons would be obvious:
    Lower age requirement to go to XFL vs. NFL.
    In the XFL, you’ll know what a catch is, and not bother with other senseless rules.
    Create rookie contracts that are superior to the NFL rookie wage scale.

  9. tylawspick6 says: “Too bad Article 46 Goodell didn’t change this rule in SB 52, because Jenkins on Cooks should have been an ejection.”
    ———————

    Video replay clearly showed Cooks turned into Jenkins pursuit path. From multiple angles, Jenkins was leading his right shoulder as he was chasing him up the field. A devastating hit for sure, but I think most football fans saw it as incidental contact given both were running upfield at the time.

  10. tylawspick6 says: “Too bad Article 46 Goodell didn’t change this rule in SB 52, because Jenkins on Cooks should have been an ejection.”
    __________________

    Sorry, but your boy started running backwards without looking. He ran right into that hit.

  11. The lowering the head rule is most likely a recommendation from the NFL legal advisors. I doubt the motivation for the rule is primarily altruistic.

  12. akira554 says:
    April 5, 2018 at 1:50 pm
    “but to pull down your head to brace yourself. That’s the natural reaction.””
    ———————

    Again, that is not a penalty according what they’ve said. It is ONLY when a player lowers his head as a weapon or battering ram is it a penalty.

    ———–

    That is NOT how the rule is written. If that is how they want the rule enforced, that is how it should be written. And even then, whether or not a player is attempting to do such a thing is completely subjective. So what could possible go wrong?

  13. allsyntax says:
    April 5, 2018 at 1:57 pm
    Don’t worry. That rule doesn’t exist in college football, and will not exist in Vince McMahon’s XFL next year. If Vince can lock in a few lucrative TV contracts, they may be able to coax away top talent from college football to the XFL rather than NFL. The reasons would be obvious:
    Lower age requirement to go to XFL vs. NFL.
    In the XFL, you’ll know what a catch is, and not bother with other senseless rules.
    Create rookie contracts that are superior to the NFL rookie wage scale.
    _____________________

    No one cares about the XFL now, and less people will even remember the XFL in three years.

  14. akira554 says:
    April 5, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    tylawspick6 says: “Too bad Article 46 Goodell didn’t change this rule in SB 52, because Jenkins on Cooks should have been an ejection.”
    ———————
    Too bad there isn’t an NFL Rule about forfeiting a game for illegal taping the opposing team’s workouts. If that happened, the Patriots would have had at least 3 fewer championships.

  15. Again, that is not a penalty according what they’ve said. It is ONLY when a player lowers his head as a weapon or battering ram is it a penalty. Ducking or bracing has always been incidental contact and never called on the field as it happens on every play multiple times.

    ——————–

    Exactly. I don’t know why that is so difficult to grasp, unless there are this many Millennials running around on here thinning the infusion of 1990s Era headhunting ESPN highlight reel hits was the norm. It wasn’t.

    That part got out of hand, and enforcing cheap shots by fellow players on one another is what the league should be doing. Anyone defending calculated headshots is a moron at this point. It’s dirty and avoidable. We’re not taking about incidental helmet contact here.

    There is a difference between leaning in and drilling someone perfectly in the shoulder or chest, with your own shoulder, and cheapshotting someone with your head as a weapon.

    Goodell cheated in late 2014, when Browner hit Green, the TE from SD, perfectly, to the chest. they called back a gorgeous Pick 6.

    Unreal.

    Goodell is a fraud and the Trphy Generation isn’t much better in terms of understanding the sport and how rules should be applied.

    It’s an excuse to say “there isn’t enough for me to hit”, when you have everything above the waist, below the head, the thigh and below the knees. There ‘s plenty of clean target area.

  16. Every time I read a comment from a current or former player complaining about the rules the NFL is putting in place, I have to ask if these guys are morons.

    The NFL has been passing these rules because former players sued the NFL for billions of dollars. CTE became a hot topic and parents like myself are telling our sons not to play organized football, which is bad for the game of football. So Woodson doesn’t like the rules, then tell former players to stop suing the league or talking to anyone who will listen about losing memories. Since that won’t happen, the NFL will continue to find ways to protect players and their pocket books. Just last year, we all saw what happens when you drop your head like Ryan Shazier did. Been a Steelers fan and watching all the games they play, I see often Ryan tackling with his head.

    This has to be taken out of the game. Deal with it.

  17. vusnu says:
    April 5, 2018 at 2:06 pm
    akira554 says:
    April 5, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    tylawspick6 says: “Too bad Article 46 Goodell didn’t change this rule in SB 52, because Jenkins on Cooks should have been an ejection.”
    ———————
    Too bad there isn’t an NFL Rule about forfeiting a game for illegal taping the opposing team’s workouts. If that happened, the Patriots would have had at least 3 fewer championships.

    0 0 Rate This

    ————————

    Something has to be true for it to be a real thing.

    You may want to get to night school after your job at 7-11. It’s not too late, little guy.

  18. tylawspick6 says:
    April 5, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Fact 1: You need to see your target as you tackle. That’s basic fundamentals.

    This. “Back in the day”, when fundamentals were still taught, your coaches taught you to break down, get ready to wrap with your arms, see what you’re about hit and bull your neck upwards as you drive through with your legs pumping. The clownery that takes place today resembles nothing of the way the game had been played in the past. Tackling is absent in today’s game for the most part. The NFL, where you’d expect the most polished form, is the worst product and example.

    I honestly think as players make their way from middle school and high school to college, then pro, the fundamentals are abandoned during practice. Which makes sense, since full-contact practices have been reduced for player safety reasons.. which is proving to be counter-productive.

    I’ve been watching the sport less and less, for many reasons. It’s just a diminished quality.

  19. akira554 says:
    April 5, 2018 at 1:59 pm
    tylawspick6 says: “Too bad Article 46 Goodell didn’t change this rule in SB 52, because Jenkins on Cooks should have been an ejection.”
    ———————

    Video replay clearly showed Cooks turned into Jenkins pursuit path. From multiple angles, Jenkins was leading his right shoulder as he was chasing him up the field. A devastating hit for sure, but I think most football fans saw it as incidental contact given both were running upfield at the time.

    6 3 Rate This

    —————-

    This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. Cooks “turned into a defender’s ‘pursuit path’..”??

    Now I’ve read it all.

    LOL!

    He ear-holed him. Period. Some of you are complete phonies.

  20. redlikethepig says:
    April 5, 2018 at 2:05 pm
    Not as bad as the Pats cheating for all those years.

    ——————-

    Sorry. Never cheated. It’s a lie/myth, as proven ad nauseum. BB mocking the Jets on a sideline is not cheating. And, don’;t force me to post Cowher’s interview.

    NE is the only team in NFL history to see rule changes actually made DURING games to affect the outcome. They possibly just lost a SB over it.

    THAT is cheating.

    Institutionalized cheating out of 345 Park Ave and pressure coming from some owners because they know they can.

  21. Whole idea is ridiculous, just the league and owners posturing – “Look, we care about player safety!”. If the zebras throw a flag on every single play, then it will quickly go away lol. This story feels a lot like the baseball balk rule fiasco years ago, when MLB told the umpires to start calling them by the book, they did and next thing you know the pitchers, managers and broadcasters (no bloggers then) were up in arms. MLB realized it was a dumb thing to do (without saying so), quietly rescinded the edict and soon it was back to business as usual. Same result here I think

  22. tylawspick6

    Time to dry your tears, the pats were outplayed & out coached, just look at the final score.

  23. NFL management admitted they did not know a football deflates if you take it outside in cold weather. Expecting them to know anything about how to actually play the sport is a fool’s errand.

  24. And again this year, ratings will continue to tumble while the NFL in true ‘head in the sand’ fashion will attempt to distract from the obvious growing disinterest in their flag football product.

  25. Just have a rule for egregious head hits.

    Lowering the head…. didn’t they make a rule for that years ago for running backs outside the tackle box? The one that Emmett Smith went off on for being so dumb? I have never seen that one called, not once. Who’s gonna call a head hit on 4th and goal? That’ll go over well…

  26. jimnaizeeum says:
    April 5, 2018 at 2:30 pm
    tylawspick6

    Time to dry your tears, the pats were outplayed & out coached, just look at the final score.

    ————

    No way….the Eagles cheated….they must have. They probably bugged the Pats meeting rooms or taped the Pats walk-throughs. Or the stole playbooks. Or they paid someone at a restaurant to give Malcom Butler bad food leading to food poisoning. Or maybe they turned off the hot water to the Pats hotel rooms.

    This is the kind of HaterLogic Pats fans have been dealing with for years now…..enjoy it.

  27. Vincent Alongi says:
    April 5, 2018 at 2:19 pm
    tylawspick6 says:
    April 5, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Fact 1: You need to see your target as you tackle. That’s basic fundamentals.

    This. “Back in the day”, when fundamentals were still taught, your coaches taught you to break down, get ready to wrap with your arms, see what you’re about hit and bull your neck upwards as you drive through with your legs pumping. The clownery that takes place today resembles nothing of the way the game had been played in the past. Tackling is absent in today’s game for the most part. The NFL, where you’d expect the most polished form, is the worst product and example.

    I honestly think as players make their way from middle school and high school to college, then pro, the fundamentals are abandoned during practice. Which makes sense, since full-contact practices have been reduced for player safety reasons.. which is proving to be counter-productive.

    I’ve been watching the sport less and less, for many reasons. It’s just a diminished quality.

    —————————-

    It’s the Millennials. They grew up thinking that is how you’re supposed to hit, and quite frankly, the tackling fundamentals at the college level, is pathetic. The missed tackles and the fundamentals are awful.

  28. nhpats says:
    April 5, 2018 at 2:47 pm
    jimnaizeeum says:
    April 5, 2018 at 2:30 pm
    tylawspick6

    Time to dry your tears, the pats were outplayed & out coached, just look at the final score.

    ————

    No way….the Eagles cheated….they must have. They probably bugged the Pats meeting rooms or taped the Pats walk-throughs. Or the stole playbooks. Or they paid someone at a restaurant to give Malcom Butler bad food leading to food poisoning. Or maybe they turned off the hot water to the Pats hotel rooms.

    This is the kind of HaterLogic Pats fans have been dealing with for years now…..enjoy it.

    ———————-

    LOL!!

    Well, technically, Goodell cheated with the owners requesting the new catch rule be used during the SB, but only to help Philly. This is a fact that is corroborated and confirmed.

    See, that’s the difference. Trolls have nothing and we have evidence that backs the truth.

  29. jimnaizeeum says:
    April 5, 2018 at 2:30 pm
    tylawspick6

    Time to dry your tears, the pats were outplayed & out coached, just look at the final score.

    Exactly what pats fans have been telling fans of St Louis, Carolina, Philly, Seattle, Atlanta, Indy Baltimore, Indy, Ravens, Indy, Indy, Ravens, and oh yeah Pitssburg.

  30. Super now we don’t know what a football move is. LOL!

    He caught the ball, took two steps, then lowered his head which use to be a football move but now it’s a penalty.

    Too many cooks spoil the broth.

  31. nhpats says: “That is NOT how the rule is written. If that is how they want the rule enforced, that is how it should be written. And even then, whether or not a player is attempting to do such a thing is completely subjective. So what could possible go wrong?”
    ————————–

    But it is how the rule wording is being looked at right now. “Lowering the head TO INITIATE CONTACT with the helmet” means exactly that you can’t use the helmet at a weapon.

    And it’s quite obvious when a player uses his helmet as a battering ram. Eyes looking down, not leading with shoulders, arms not in wrapping up position, etc. For runners it’s obvious too. Watch guys who protect their head properly – they turn their shoulder into the defender to knock them off-balance. Guys that will be penalized are those that look like a ram in a head butting contest.

  32. Ryan Shazier is paralyzed today, because he didn’t know how to tackle properly.
    =====

    And he’s fortunate not to have paralyzed others (Gio Bernard)

  33. From a guy that said he knew how to get rest by faking injury, he’d start limping. He and Jerry Rice were commenting on Damien Woody’s statement how he faked injury to get out of training camp. Woody said he told doctors he was sensitive to light. They said it on ESPN but it’s ignored.

  34. This is a direct response to the multiple lawsuits against the NFL by former players. I don’t know if Woodson is a party to these lawsuits or if he will claim benefits from the CTE settlement, but I bet some of his former teammates have and/or will. It does sound like a drastic change but it will depend on how this rule is called on the field.

    While not popular in the US, there is a sport that is full contact tackle and is played without helmets and pads. Rugby. Watch some video of a professional rugby match. These are some tough guys who play a tough sport and they manage to tackle without using their head as a weapon.

  35. See, that’s the difference. Trolls have nothing and we have evidence that backs the truth.
    =====

    We don’t have evidence…. because the Pats were smart enough to destroy it…

  36. Just take off thier helmets. Give them some lightweight protection for the back and sides of thier heads. Football players probably aren’t the smartest guys on earth, but I don’t know anyone who would lower their unprotected head and hit another player

  37. This is overkill to the CTS problem, but the owners would much rather water down the rules then pay more massive settlements. Who could blame them? What if a QB is just ducking to get away from a sack though?

  38. just say “if any contact is made anywhere on the field, all players will be ejected, and game will be over” games will be about 12 seconds long if the kickoff is returned.

  39. “If the RB is lowering his head THROUGH A HOLE, then by definition, he’s aiming at open space, which is legal if contact is made incidentally. As long as he’s not initiating contact, it’s not a penalty.”

    You’re assuming the incompetent NFL refs won’t simply see a player lower their head and call the penalty.

    Or the people in ref central command at 345 Corruption Ave won’t use this as an excuse to change the outcome of games.

  40. I will say it again…these guys are paid millions to play a GAME. With risk they CHOOSE to take. I would never want anyone hurt but come on now. I agree what Gronkowski did, any head hits, any intent to hurt, facemadks,etc are diff but a hit with the head up can be even more dangerous in so many situations. The penalties need to be reviewable as it is!

  41. This ruke has proven 2 things,
    People who say they’re done with the NFL seem to spend the most time talking about it.
    Most of the people here don’t or won’t understand how football is played. For any who’ve worn pads & helmets it’s easy to pick out those who haven’t. Watching on TV or playing Madden isn’t the same as actually running through the line, shoulders low, face up.

  42. akira554 says:
    April 5, 2018 at 3:12 pm
    nhpats says: “That is NOT how the rule is written. If that is how they want the rule enforced, that is how it should be written. And even then, whether or not a player is attempting to do such a thing is completely subjective. So what could possible go wrong?”
    ————————–

    But it is how the rule wording is being looked at right now. “Lowering the head TO INITIATE CONTACT with the helmet” means exactly that you can’t use the helmet at a weapon.

    And it’s quite obvious when a player uses his helmet as a battering ram. Eyes looking down, not leading with shoulders, arms not in wrapping up position, etc. For runners it’s obvious too. Watch guys who protect their head properly – they turn their shoulder into the defender to knock them off-balance. Guys that will be penalized are those that look like a ram in a head butting contest.

    ————

    The rule says noting about a “battering ram”….not mentioned. Lineman lower their heads to “initiate contact” on almost every play. So to RBs…especially in short yardage sitautions. And what about the QB sneak…yup….lowering the helmet and initiating contact.

    Like I said….what could possibly go wrong with such a subjective rule.

    But hey how about this. How about the NFL post around 100 videos of players lowering their heads in various situation and explaining why each of them would or would not be a penalty on objective terms. Because you know, the refs will need to know how to make the calls without being totally subjective. But you know what….they won’t because they can’t. Because the gang-that-couldn’t-shoot-straight once again has no idea what they are doing….

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