It’s still not clear who knew that the NFL would be proposing and passing a broad new rule that prohibits lowering the helmet to initiate contact before it suddenly happened last Tuesday, but it’s pretty clear who didn’t know: Pretty much everyone.
The list of people caught surprise by the rule change includes Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy. An influential voice in the industry who often receives requests from the league and those who run it for advice and counsel, Dungy didn’t know that the league would be considering, or implementing, a rule that could have such a significant impact on the game.
Like most, Dungy is waiting to hear more about how the rule will be implemented, and most importantly how it will be enforced. If applied as broadly as it is written, the rule will eliminate not only the deliberate use of the helmet as a weapon but also, as Dungy explained on PFT Live, the inadvertent striking of a player with the helmet while trying to execute a form tackle.
And so we all will continue wait for more information on a rule that could result in major changes to the game. It’s hard not to wonder whether the same secrecy that accompanied the passage of the rule will be used as the powers-that-be, whoever they may be, tweak the rule into a final form that will be applied when the league’s 32 teams return to game action in August and September.