Matt Forte rips “absurd suggestion of a rule change”


Bears running back Matt Forte is not happy that the NFL’s Competition Committee has proposed a new rule that would penalize ball carriers for lowering their helmets into tacklers.

Forte wrote on Twitter that he thinks it’s ridiculous to tell running backs that they can’t lead with the crown of their helmets. According to Forte, lowering the shoulders is a vital part of breaking tackles, and it’s physically impossible to lower your shoulders without also lowering your head.

“The proposed rule change for running backs might be the most absurd suggestion of a rule change I’ve ever heard of,” Forte wrote. “In order to lower your shoulder you obviously have to lower your head. It’s a way of protecting yourself from a tackler and a way to break tackles. You can’t change the instinctive nature of running the football.”

Forte is echoing complaints that everyone from Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith to U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. Of all the NFL’s proposed rules changes for 2013, this is the one that has been met with the harshest criticism, and that will likely be the subject of the fiercest debate at this week’s league meeting.

70 responses to “Matt Forte rips “absurd suggestion of a rule change”

  1. You teach kids from day one in Pee Wee football to lower your shoulders. Then the NFL wants to turn around and penalize these men from doing something that is second nature to them. What an idiotic rule.

  2. In hockey guys have gotten their throats cut by skates whats worse that or concussions? The rule change is making up for the advantage offenses have under the current rules.

  3. Pretty soon we’ll see a new penalty –

    Running the ball, 10 yards and loss of down

    Its clear the attorneys running the league want to turn the game into a 100% passing flag football game.

  4. If they make this rule change i honest to god will never watch another nfl game

  5. Forte is an idiot. The issue isn’t lowering your head, it’s leading with the crown of the helmet. If can’t run the football and keep your chin up, you are too uncoordinated to be in the NFL.

  6. I feel you Mr. Forte, as there is a difference between taking proactive measures to decrease future cerebral effects, and completely taking the ‘dog’ out of the game. What goodell is doing here is the latter, and also places rb’s in a lose-lose situation!

  7. Correction: the rule would only apply on runs OUTSIDE the tackles, not inside as I misstated earlier.

  8. He probably got the concussion when a running back dropped his head and bowled him over.

  9. I can understand the NFL wants a safer game for the players but this rule is going to ruin the game if its passed. It changes the aspect of running the ball completely its just to big of a change. These players signed a contract worth millions of dollars knowing what could happen to them. If the NFL doesn’t want to get sued for these for injuries later on after players retire then when they joining the NFL inside there contract it should have statement that says the NFL isn’t responsible for longer term injuries such as blah blah blah blah. It’s that simple and the rules don’t have to change and the game can be normal again.

  10. NFL no fun league,if this rule passes it will be the no fan league.thats right goddel keep passing crazy rules and the game wil be unrecognizable and the fans will stop watching,dont fix what isnt broken

  11. WE fans should make the rule changers carry the ball without lowering their heads and see how they like it.

  12. I happen to agree with Forte. That said, you have to lower your head to tackle with your shoulders and they have successfully made leading with your head illegal for defenders. So should it be illegal for all players, some, or none?

  13. This is, at best, an absolutely idiotic rule change. They have to get Gooddell out of power ASAP!

  14. The biggest change should be to replace Goodell, and the replace every member on the Competition committee with others that are not dependant upon the commisioner

  15. This is part of the obvious overreaction to the concussion lawsuits.

    The NFL is going to lose a lot of money over the lawsuits but they are just going way over the top.

    Just get independent neurologists on the sideline and have them be responsible for clearing guys during the week as well.

    The lawsuits aren’t a result of concussions happening…we all know they will happen. All the NFL really has to do is to be aware of the science of it and make sure players are aware and properly examined and cleared by true independent doctors.

    The lawsuits are a result of the NFL not acknowledging the seriousness of the concussions…not that they happen.

  16. I’m conflicted. Not on this rule, i think Forte is 100% correct. I’m conflicted that I’m all in for player safety, but to what extent does it ruin a game that has been played for around 120 years. We want the physical aspect of the game, we glorified it, the players reguard themselves as “warriors” and “gladiators.” Flag football is what i play on the beach with a few friends, not what i want to see on TV. These players are compensated what they are, and that is entertainers. The physical nature of the game is the entertainment. Otherwise we’d be watching baseball. Hell, i even started watching hockey again, not because i like it, but because i want to see guys crashed against the boards and fights. There has to be a line or this game will die.

  17. What a joke… Really? Lets just play flag football. well maybe just touch football, we don’t want players hurting fingers. Actually, they could get hurt in touch and flag football. Maybe just eye tag football?

  18. When will the NFL learn to leave well enough alone? Football is not a safe sport and all these rules made in the name of safety are ruining the game. Every player that signs the dotted line knows the risks they’re taking.

  19. commish has nothing to do with this rule. It’s the competition committee, which he is not on.
    I hope it does not pass. Would change the game for the worse.

  20. Also, receivers and defensive backs are no longer allowed to jump for the ball, and offensive/defensive linemen may no longer use their arms to block or pass rush

  21. As someone else said, more overreaction to the lawsuits. These players who blew their money need to stop suing and these rules have to stop. I don’t see why we can’t make one or two rule changes and monitor the impact for 2-3 years before there are any changes.

    The players are the ones suing so why doesn’t Goodell ask former and current players what would keep them from suing after their careers? This is clearly a move to help stop the bleeding of money so why not get feedback from the players themselves before making rule changes.

  22. Wow. They are looking to completely devalue the running back position. You might as well go all speed with the position if this passes. What good is a power back if he has to keep his head up and chest exposed to charging defenders?

  23. Keep the rules coming. Soon a game will take 5 hours because there will be a penalty on every play. Fans love watching the refs make calls

  24. In the near future a Sunday afternoon NFL game will have the fan base and TV audience of an Arena Football League game…and a DVD replay of an NFL game from the 70’s and 80’s will be selling for $13.99

  25. If players keep complaining, they are ALL going to wear a stupid “White Zone” around the top of their helmets and also sensors that will.
    You want to sue the NFL and then reject rule changes?
    Players need to get it right.
    Those old concussion lawsuits are nothing.
    The players knew the risk.
    I got kicked in the head in high school by a running back who missed the hole.
    I didn’t see stars… I went DARK!
    I walked away.
    I knew.
    In high school.
    I recovered but I knew the risks were not worth ANY reward.

  26. This is ridiculous! This is for sure becoming a passing league, watching folks get ran over is exciting, some of the best power backs like Christian Okoye, Mike Alstott, Jerome Bettis, Earl Campbell etc made their living off of running folks over, leading with their shoulders.

  27. Has the NFL done a study of which position players suffer the most sever head injuries? If they have; I haven’t seen it. Before instituting rule changes such as this one it seems that the league should have some sense of what causes the most debilitating injuries. They may very well find that linemen have the highest rate of long term concussive trauma because of the repetitive nature of line contact. Should we expect that offensive linemen will not be allowed to lead with their helmets when blocking defensive linemen….

  28. When I read it I took it as no ramming with the head in pure OPEN FIELD, one on one. If my interpretation of the rules were applied I wouldnt see the big deal.

    These refs though, I could see a bunch of terrible calls.

  29. Sign a waiver of exempting the NFL of any injuries and the NFLPA would probably be able to keep any rule they want. If players continue to sue the NFL, of course the NFL is going to put things in place to stop from being sued.

  30. Actually, if you read the rule closely, it says you can lower your shoulder while keeping your head vertical, hopping on one foot and singing show tunes. At least that’s the way I read it.

  31. guess now RBs won’t start getting drafted till at least the 6th round, like a FB. FBs won’t be drafted at all, no point.

  32. It is generally obvious when a tackler is using his head as a blunt instrument to strike a runner. But no one is expected to make a tackle without touching the other guy with his helmet. The key is, the helmet contact is secondary, and the difference is usually pretty easy to judge.

    Likewise, a runner can break a tackle with his shoulder without intentionally driving his helmet into the defender. Nobody would expect a runner to make zero contact with his helmet. The distinction between incidental and intentional contact would be a judgment call, just like any other penalty in the game.

  33. While I do agree with him he need to keep his trap shut.
    I don’t remember him having anything to say when the league took away the defensive players right to lead with the head like they had been taught since pee wee league, seems he didn’t have a problem with that bit of rule altering for the safety of the players, but then that made his job & life easier unlike this.

  34. Goddell and his owner, attorney/corporate sponsor friends are trying so hard to make up for their abysmal treatment of the players who made the game great that they instead will end up killing the goldenv goose. What an infinitesimally stupid rule proposal!

  35. I just don’t understand how the players can sue the NFL when a lot of their hard hitting careers begin in High school and College. Wouldn’t these times in their careers contribute to the effects or damage sustained to them? IMO players willingly playing the sport knowing what the consequences can be should set a portion of funds aside for future medical procedures or treatments.

  36. It’s different than tackling. I don’t remember Forte complaining when defenders where handicapped. This will help level the playing field.

  37. From pee wee up you learn to lower your head as a ball carrier to try to break tackles and attack the defender,now all of a sudden they want to eliminate it,amazing.if they are so worried about injuries that they must change the face of nfl football then please eliminate the game of pro football altogether.we will still watch high school and college games where they dont play like sissies and play real football.

  38. This was a smart move proposing this rule. It’s all about the lawsuits. They know there is no way this passes but it looks like they are doing everything they can to protect players. Also hopefully this will be the last absurd rule proposed once this gets vetoed.

  39. Goodell’s got to go!!! It is as though there is someone is tinkering with how much of the game they can change before it has a negative impact on spectators!

  40. How often would a ref even get around to calling this as a penalty? RB disappears into a pile with his head down, they really going to call a 15 yard penalty on that?

  41. A voice of reason…

    There is a difference between ‘lowering your head’ VS ‘leading with your head’.

    I don’t condone leading (spearing) with the helmet as a weapon. I’m definitely against it on the defensive side of the ball where it’s usually pretty obvious and unnecessary in the open field.

    But on the offensive side of the ball I’m not so sure that it won’t change the very nature of the run game. For the most part there are different objectives & mechanics at play for a player trying to run through or run away from the defense VS the defensive players who are running directly at a player to stop the forward progress. Although my gut feeling is to not mess with the running game from an integrity of the game standpoint, the answer isn’t 100% clear to me.

    The NFL better watch it because they are entering areas of rules that could change the very sanctity of the game. I myself & I think a lot of fans won’t stand for it. Sad to say but I’ll just stop watching at some point if it gets out of hand. It would be very very bad on the impact on the game of football to change the very nature of how the ball is run, the instinctual reaction to being tackled & aggressiveness of how the game is played! Do we really want a running back to have to be thinking about this? Its also very very bad for the integrity of the game to leave more subjective calls that could change game outcomes to the interpretation of the officials. We already have way too much of that one! Offensive head lowering VS head leading… Good luck on that one.

    I actually think there should be an in depth study through digitally filming experimental play dovetailed with computer modeling to come to a clear understanding of the mechanics & how the rule would impact the game. What is happening now is a knee jerk cacophony of subjective opinions from different perspectives which is always a bad way to come to an important decision.

    NFL is a billion dollar business. They can afford to put a little science into this before making decisions that could impact the very nature of our beloved game.

  42. Could this just be a brilliant move by the NFL and owners to go “see they want to play this way” and make it look less like their fault?

  43. No fan of Goodell but lol at everyone saying he’s got to go. The owners just gave him a huge raise because they’re making more money from the teams then they ever have before.

    Unless a significant number of fans in numbering in the many millions really stops watching every game for an extended time, Goodell is going nowhere. The owners care nothing about what we the fans think. As long as they keep making vast boatloads of money Goodell is here to stay

  44. I’m all for trying to make the game safer for concussions, especially since the latest research keeps indicating the long term effects. But, there is a line. A running back is usually not in a defenseless position. In fact, he lowers his head and shoulders to defend himself, often as a reflex, not specifically intended to knock someone out. In fact, it’s probably more dangerous for a running back to run upright. Many teams won’t draft running backs with this style

    I have no use for beer and chicken wing fans however, 30lbs overweight, at the bars on Sunday rooting for their fantasy teams, criticizing the safety efforts because the game isn’t violent enough for them.

  45. So then running back are to run through gaps while standing straight up? Then a defender comes in and lowers his head to make the stop and is not flagged? So next there will be the rule of htting aefenselss runing back. The commisoner is taking cotact right. out of football and puttin 11mil in his pockets per yr for destroying football?

  46. The league proposed this rule and put it on the agenda knowing that is impractical, unwise and unsafe for a runner to keep his head up.

    They did this so it could be officially voted down and they’d have another example to hold up to the judge and say

    “Your honor, we’re trying to make the sport safer but, the players shoot our sincere efforts down every time, and may we at this time also enter into evidence this collection of public comments, made by the players themselves, condemning the idea of NOT leading with their heads/helmets. Thank you.”

    Matt Forte said it best: You can’t change the instinctive nature of running the football….[and the NFL knows this.]

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