The NFL has promised to hit the road to explain its new lowering the helmet rule, going to all 32 teams to explain what will and will not be penalized.
Those meetings are going to be crucial, because none of the players seem to know what to expect.
The latest to (possibly) overreact to the hastily crafted rule change is Steelers guard David DeCastro, who thinks the letter of the law could apply to most running plays and turn offensive linemen into “sumo wrestlers.”
“I just can’t wait until the referees come into training camp like they do every year, and they show us the videos of what to do and not do in the rule changes,” DeCastro said, via Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I just can’t wait to see it because I have no idea what they’re talking about. It doesn’t make any sense to me. . . .
“You’re taught from a young age, the low man wins. Get your head lower than theirs. It’s like the nature of the game. You might as well take the ball away while you’re at it. . . . We’re going to look like sumo wrestlers. Put our bellies against each other.”
Because of the pace of the discussions that led to the rule, the change came long before the explanation could possibly get out to the people it impacts. Coach Bill O’Brien explained this week on PFT Live that the impact would be less drastic than some (like DeCastro, appparently) expect. But when competition committee chairman Rich McKay talks about how the rule is a “substantial change” without offering visible examples, it creates confusion.
It seems apparent that the league’s specifically trying to eliminate hits like the ones that left Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier with a spinal injury rather than the plays DeCastro’s talking about.
But until the league illustrates that difference to players, they can expect these kinds of criticisms on a regular basis.