Marshall Faulk: If runners can’t lower their heads, eliminate helmets

Getty Images

Marshall Faulk would rather eliminate helmets from football than tell running backs they can’t lower their heads into tacklers.

Faulk, the Hall of Fame running back who played for the Colts and Rams, blasted the NFL Competition Committee’s proposal to penalize running backs for leading with the crown of their helmets.

“This is a joke,” Faulk said on NFL Network. “If you’re a ball carrier and you’re trying to protect yourself, you’re going to duck. . . . I understand they want safety and I’m all for safety within the game. But it can’t just be some old guys in the room who didn’t carry a football making rules that are really going to affect how this game is being played. I just don’t understand.”

Faulk added that if the Competition Committee really thinks running backs are using their helmets as weapons to injure their opponents, he’d rather just see players go back to the 1920s and play without helmets.

“Take the helmets off. Let’s be honest, if you think the helmet is a weapon, take it off. Because I know the helmet on my head is not being used to head butt anyone, it’s being used to protect myself,” Faulk said.

The NFL’s owners are expected to vote either today or tomorrow to approve the Competition Committee’s proposal, and make the practice of a running back lowering his helmet into a defender a personal foul.

92 responses to “Marshall Faulk: If runners can’t lower their heads, eliminate helmets

  1. Rugby seems to have it down. Helmets are used as weapons. If player’s didn’t waer them, they wouldn’t fly around with as much reckless abandon for themselves or others.

    Again, refer to Rugby for clear examples from a game play and rules standpoint. I give examples when someone starts to tell me how stupid i am.

  2. The greatest RB in the history of professional Football, John Riggins, left it all on the field and used it all. Shame not many RBs today don’t posses the Riggo toughness outside of Alfred Morris, Lynch Jones Drew.

  3. But some players bang their helmets together. Sometimes ignorance gets in the way of making an educated and intelligent decision. I’m not sure Marshall has the medical knowledge or expertise to really understand the position he is taking here. So I don’t know how you can justify the issues of protection unless you are going to explore the issues that the NFL has brought up that suggest why it is dangerous to health. I’m only concerned with what Marshall Faulk has to say in response to that! This is all generic out of context commentary that doesn’t address the key points of concern.

  4. Marshall’s comments were taken out of context. He also said “Wahh, I got cheated out of a Super Bowl”

  5. logicalvoicesays says:
    Mar 19, 2013 1:22 PM
    The greatest RB in the history of professional Football, John Riggins, left it all on the field and used it all. Shame not many RBs today don’t posses the Riggo toughness outside of Alfred Morris, Lynch Jones Drew.


    Marshall Faulk >>> John Riggins

  6. I think the rule change is ludicrous. But Faulk’s statement falls into the same category. Fact is, if you are going to eliminate the helmet, then all the pads should be eliminated. I wouldn’t want my head without a helmet being hit by anyone’s shoulder pad for example.

  7. I can’t believe they will come up with 24 votes to pass this. Let’s hope the overwhelming opposition to this causes the committee to vote it down.

  8. In my best Brady bunch voice “Marshall, Marshall, Marshall. It’s passing. Didn’t you hear Gregodell. It’s always passing Marshall”.

  9. Address the dangerous part of the helmet: the hard shell exterior. A padded exterior will cause less damage and can protect just as well with modern materials. They’ll lose the shiny iconic helmet, but if the NFL really wants to put safety first, that shouldn’t be an issue.

  10. All of this is due to health and liability. I’m a sports doctor. If the NFL is so worried about future liability, then why don’t they create a legal waiver that explains the risks and asks the players to waive their rights to sue given certain injuries? Why are they making this so difficult? Sign and play given your talent or don’t play in the NFL…..

  11. This all comes down to one thing:

    The NFL is trying to save face and save $$$ from the lawsuits of concussions.

    Sad it’s come to this.

  12. I thought the point in all of this was to defend the defenseless? If a RB has the time to drop and protect himself he isn’t very defensless….plus if you take away the one defense that we all naturally and instinctively have isn’t that making it more dangerous? It seems to me that if I was running at a 250 lbs man with out the option to go around and he catches me in the mid chest/ribs it’s gonna be bad for me. Real bad.

    And furthemore my brother was a RB and I’ll tell you exactly what he never wanted when he went down like that was to hit someone/thing with the top of his head like a weapon….he prefered his shoulder to hit but he didn’t always have the time to adjust. If he went in head up he’d be taking shots on the chin (still concussions) mid chest and dead into the collar bone.

    Rules like this will take instinct out of the game and make players think way to much for it to seems anything other than wooden and scripted. This is a bad bad rule proposal.

  13. “But it can’t just be some old guys in the room who didn’t carry a football making rules that are really going to affect how this game is being played. I just don’t understand.””

    Sorry but that’s exactly what’s going on. The league attorneys, i.e. “some old guys who didn’t carry a football” are the ones making the rules now so its only going to get worse not better.

    And the fact is the players have only former players to thank for this. If there weren’t 4000+ former players with lawsuits against the league over concussion effects we wouldn’t be seeing this.

    The really disgusting thing is that the reason the majority of those players have joined the lawsuits is not because of health issues, its because they blew the millions and millions of dollars they made and the lawsuit is their last chance to hit it rich.

  14. Section 4, paragraph 9 of the new rule:

    “All running backs will now be required to wear helmets with a big red button on the crown, similar to the Staples Easy Button. If the button is depressed, a penalty flag shall be automatically ejected into the air from the back of the helmet. Henceforth, this rule shall be called the Easy Button Rule.”

  15. I heard the segment and I think his words were more like “If the NFL think players are using their helmet as a weapon eliminate helmets”. Why does PFT have to make things juicer than they already are like its TMZ?? I think reporting accurately is more important but that’s just me. He had some good points on getting slow as a runner and protector ourselves. That the game shouldn’t be decided by some old guys in a room.

  16. If they pass this it will save me some money. I can drop down a tier or two on the cable package since I won’t be needing NFL network.

  17. I smell a boycott coming if they pass this rule, people may not stop watching the games on TV but I know I would never attend another NFL game in person.

    Roger Goodell is about to kill or severely injure the NFLs golden goose.

  18. I don’t understand this proposed rule change. If the defender can legally hit a runner with the crown of the helmet basically as hard as they want (see Pollard on Ridley in the AFC Championship Game), then the running backs can’t lose the right to dish out the same punishement and to protect themselves.

  19. you guys are missing the point, this has nothing to do with player safety (long term) its about keeping the owners investment on the field each week.

  20. You are told to lower your head from the ponys to the pros. The idea is to get lower than the defender.
    I would like to see running backs get flagged for facemask. If a defender does it just a little its 15 yds., but we have all seen running backs grab a facemask and hang on and shove the defender into the ground. This isn’t a stiff arm. Its a double standard in the NFL.

  21. Fact of the matter is, it’s instinct and you cannot stop it. Go pretend you’re going to collide with your son, or whoever is in the room with you. Right before the moment of impact, you both will lower your heads and shoulders to “Brace for the impact”…..Automatically.

    That’s what James Harrison AND Colt McCoy did on that infamous hit, that’s what happened on the Trent Richardson shot on Coleman. It’s impossible to not duck as you’re about to collide with someone or something.

  22. Roger is slowly turning the NFL into South Park Sarcastaball. I’m all for protecting players, no problem with it, but not everyone who uses their helmet as a “weapon” gets a concussion. It’s part of the game, it’s how the game is played, and players should be well aware of this.

  23. the important part of Faulk’s statement: “I just don’t understand.”

    Runners will be always able to duck their heads, get low, and avoid contact. That’s the safest option.

    What they can’t do under this new suggestion is to launch themselves top-of-the-head-first into a defender.

    Every molehill is not a mountain

  24. this is all so dumb. how about the NFL ponies up about $100 million or so to MIT and maybe another $100 to Cal Poly or Stanford and endow a few chairs in sports science and create a new helmet and some new “armor” for our guys.

    i know, it sounds like a lot of money, but it is going to be a heck of a lot less than what the lawsuits will be and the advances will trickle down to colleges and high schools.

    have you seen some of the “Halo” type of stuff that MIT is doing for the military with body armor that goes from soft to hard as steel when impacted?…..or you can leave it all on Schutt and Riddel, i think they have access to all the same resources and minds as MIT.

  25. Someone queue the tape of every time Craig “Ironhead” Hayward, Walter Payton and Earl Campbell lowered their heads square into the chest of a defender and nearly gave them a cardiac arrest.

  26. For safety purposes, I think they should starting playing baseball with tennis balls, running Nascar races with golf carts, and bull fighting will be changed to goat fighting.

  27. Keep the helmets. Sign a waiver.

    If you want to stop use of the helmet, just remove the face masks. Then, you’ll have a safer form of rugby.

  28. Before the ex-players and fans (all of whom are always soooooo well informed) start criticizing this, they need to actually look at the rule change proposal. It’s not a flag for lowering your head, but for using your helmet as a weapon in the open field. The competition committee said this would have been flagged 5 times last year. 5 times! And not five times per NFL game. Not 5 times per NFL week. 5 times in the whole year. Chances are, you probably wouldn’t have even seen this penalty called as you sat down to watch football last season.

    Let’s all just learn to be a bit more rational…

  29. No way this can happen successfully being a judgement call happening so fast.. Soon as somebody gets ran over in the open field the ref will throw a flag regardless of the shoulder pads or helmet hitting first.. If they are going to force this rule in, they should, just like hits on a defenseless player, make it reviewable after the play….

  30. Real fans out there..let’s make it our mission to rally together and personally kick Roger The Wuss’s ass..He’s nancying our beloved game. THIS IS FOOTBALL!!!

  31. Every so often Faulk says something that makes sense. This is one of those times.

    Will somebody please fire Goodell.

  32. I really think this would eliminate a TON of the concussion issues we have with the game today. As a rugby player, we are taught to tackle in a way that protects or head, not use it as a weapon.

  33. It’s just natural instinct to lower your helmet to either make yourself a smaller target or to use it as a battering ram to bust through tacklers.

    You can’t make them not do that. It’s just instinct. You see something coming towards you; you duck.

  34. Well if the ball carrier cant lower his shoulder and has to remain up right…Are they going to make a rule now that the defender has to cuddle them down..I mean fair is fair..If im giving myself up im going to need some protection from getting destroyed…Its almost human nature to duck when a 250 lbs man is coming toward you to hit you

  35. To the fans saying what the competition committee sees what will be flagged and what won’t you obviously aren’t watching football. Nearly every game there are flags thrown for roughing the passer and hitting a defenseless receiver that don’t warrant a penalty. Now there will be flags thrown for too much important between a ball carrier and defender forgot their 5 they got in review because football is played real time and its fast. I guarantee you this is the rule if passed has people switching to something else. Didn’t post my last one but Marshall Faulks words are poorly paraphrased in the headline for more clicks because I watched the video and that’s not what was said.

  36. I love it how these guys complain about keeping the game physical right up until the point that the file a lawsuit against the league for not protecting them more.

  37. packerfan1000 says: Mar 19, 2013 1:50 PM
    The competition committee said this would have been flagged 5 times last year. 5 times! And not five times per NFL game. Not 5 times per NFL week. 5 times in the whole year. Chances are, you probably wouldn’t have even seen this penalty called as you sat down to watch football last season.


    Watch the video again…They said they looked at week 16 and all the plays from week 16 they had 5 plays that would have been flagged. You don’t watch football enough to know this is a physical style that nearly every running uses that isn’t a scat back. Well I guess your a Green Bay fan you haven’t watched a running back run since Ahman Green- we forgive you.

  38. This is ridiculous! If this passes (God forbid) game officials are going to have to determine whether or not a running back is using his helmet as a weapon. That’s a real judgment call and a very difficult one for an official to determine. If this passes look for the running game to eventually become obsolete. Bombs away!

  39. @packerfan1000 Ok fine that’s what the “rule says” so its up to the ref’s to interpret what constitutes the “helmet being used as weapon”… great because they do so well with things like.. the tuck rule, BS late hits on QB’s when they just released the ball and get hit and its a PF Roughing the Passer, Pass Interference calls, hits to the head of a defenseless player… yup your right no big deal they’ve shown time in and time out that their judgment calls on rules that are tough to interpret have been just plain stelar!

  40. I’m just waiting for some outspoken/eccentric business tycoon like Mark Cuban or Richard Branson to realize that people are starting to lose interest in the NFL and their asinine rules, and team up to start up a new league.

    Could seriously give the NFL a run for their money the way the NFL is headed.

  41. logicalvoicesays

    I get the feeling you’re a redskins fan, what with your slightly biased comments. Ok, enough already!
    Besides, you shouldn’t be posting during school hours. Its not good practice and will really hurt you as go through life starting in a few years when you get to high school.

  42. Roger Goodell is ruining this once great sport. He has compromised the integrity of the game. If this passes, it is the most absurd rule change I have ever heard of in my entire life. He’s an idiot.

  43. what? if u have a helmet on otherwise u arent too bright if u lower your head to brace for impact… most people with some intelligence put up their arms to protect their head…
    I mean when your car is about to slam into a wall by all means lean forward and brace for impact, us people with some intelligence will raise our arms to protect our head from the windshield/steering wheel and the air bag burning our faces.

    “Fact of the matter is, it’s instinct and you cannot stop it. Go pretend you’re going to collide with your son, or whoever is in the room with you. Right before the moment of impact, you both will lower your heads and shoulders to “Brace for the impact”…..Automatically.”

  44. You guys don’t get it. This isn’t about player safety nor are any of the other rules Goodell is imposing. It’s about feminizing the game so more women will watch and buy their pink Tony Romo jerseys. Guys love the violence of the game. Women don’t.

  45. Given that Faulk is fond of asserting that the Patriots 2001 Super Bowl is tainted because they broke a 2006 rule, I’d say the NFL should work to improve the effectiveness of helmets regardless of this proposed rule.

  46. Here’s the joke: They were talking about eliminating the Pro Bowl & now all the games are going to be just like the Pro Bowl because of the new rules!

  47. I see two rb’s who are going to hate this, AP and Marshawn Lynch. They will be penalized (and potentially fined????) repeatedly because of the violent and pounding ways they run. Why not make a rule that Maurice Jones Drew can’t juke more than three moves on any given run because he is increasing the likelihood that the defenders might tear an ACL trying to catch him. Are there any former players on the competition committee? Wouldn’t that make sense? Just seems like what Roger wants Roger gets.

  48. What the hell, I dont watch the NFL with enough regularity to even care. But, lets take off the helmets, take away shoulder pads, hip pads and put colorful hankies in players back pocket. I like that pink for breast cancer. ( not one bit of pun )
    Really, guys and dolls this aint your Daddy’s NFL.
    Its becoming a more gentler, kinder, NFL.

  49. Put padding on the outside of the helmet as well as gel padding the inside. You then will have a crumple zone as well as protective padding. Yea, it’ll look odd for awhile but it would reduce brain injuries.

    Football players are much larger, faster and stronger than ever before but their brains are still just as fragile. Their equiptment needs to evolve as well.

  50. Marshall is one of the most intelligent backs to ever play the game. I think I’ll just go with what he says…

  51. When does the ridiculousness end. Goodell must really want people to believe he is concerned with player safety, at this rate the fans will stop going to gms because ti will take 5 hrs to play the dam thing because every other play will draw a flag.

  52. the nfl is turning into a sissyfied league, next thing u know godell will turn it into a flag football league

  53. Further proof that lawyers and fears of liabilities have destroyed this game. All parties are to blame here:
    * The NFL especially for not helping the older players who made a pittance yet are still suffering the devastating affects of violent collisions
    * NFL films and ESPN for glorifying the “big hit”
    * the players for not tackling properly
    * the older players for suing the NFL and leading…
    * Goodell/ lawyers to panic and institute these ridiculous penalties and rules.

    Mostly it’s the fault of the lawyers.

  54. They are going out of their way to soften up the game. How about no contact at all? Make it flag football and they can play 82 games a year. I’m sure the stadiums will be packed. I mean, after all, it’s still football. Right?
    This is why I still love the NHL. At this point they’re debating if they should mandate face guards or not. NFL is trying to mandate a helmet that will be scratch-free after an entire season. PATHETIC!!

    I’m not waiting 7 days, waking up early Sunday, getting my drink on, my jersey on, my trash talk going, just to watch super athletes be forced to play Hippie Ball for 4 quarters!!

  55. There are very few legitimate hits, either by a ball carrier or a defender, that are initiated with the crown of the helmet that couldn’t have just as easily been initiated with the shoulder instead. I’m not sure people understand how little this rule will affect things in actuality, if implemented.

  56. This is part of Goodell’s agenda to globalize the game by softening it to appeal to a wider audience. He is blatantly alienating the hardcore fans who love the sport and love the hard hits, and fans who have made the NFL into the sport it is today. The greatest and most watched sport in America.
    In no time, football will have an entirely different feel and the game we love will no longer be the same.
    Damn you Goodell. You are the biggest mistake NFL has ever made.

  57. Absolute crap. Terrible rule. We should go on strike this season if they pass it. I don’t want to watch any more flag football

  58. What a moron, helmets were added decades ago to cut down the number of players that died from head trauma.

  59. Remember last fall’s trial balloon from the Commish about eliminating kickoffs? Did you notice that the proposal died right after a Giants returner took one “to the house”?

    The same thing would happen here. If the rule is passed, it’ll be scuttled the first time a Giant or Patriot gets flagged.

  60. Faulk’s recommendation of eliminating helmets highlights the central problem with rule changes going back decades:

    For all the rule changes, injuries- including severe injuries- have not gone down. The reason is the (perhaps) unintended consequences.

    Many/most of the rule changes were intended to protect QBs from injury, but effectively made passing much more advantageous in the process, thereby creating more passing plays- which are much more likely than running plays to cause injury- especially serious injuries- not just to QBs, but also linemen, WRs, TEs and DBs too.

    Better to go back to the old rules, rather than keep introducing new ones that ruin the game while failing to reduce injuries.

  61. Godell might very well be purposely trying to make the game appeal to a larger audience around the world at the cost of upsetting it’s current fans. The problem is there is A LOT more to gain then lose. Sorry guys but it’s true, in ten years we will not be watching the same game, but millions, perhaps hundreds of more people from around the world may be tuning in. It’s a win win for the NFL, fake player safety and more viewers will mean more income.

  62. Why are people bashing Goodell over rules changes? He has some influence as the commissioner but he does not have a vote at all. The competition committee shapes the rules/wording and the owners vote. Goodell preaches what he is told leading up to the meetings and after the rules are incorporated or defeated. He deserves some bashing at times but this isn’t really one of those times.

  63. But it can’t just be some old guys in the room who didn’t carry a football making rules

    Now you know how private sector business people feel about politicians.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!