Some coaches are skeptical of ban on lowering the helmet


Although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s Competition Committee want the owners to vote at this week’s meeting to penalize running backs who lower their helmets into oncoming tacklers, the proponents of the rule are meeting some resistance from coaches.

Coaches are usually careful not to openly criticize the rules that are voted on by the owners — who are, after all, the coaches’ bosses — but a few reports are trickling out of the owners’ meetings that coaches aren’t thrilled about the proposal.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that he supports the idea of reducing the number of head-first collisions on the field, but he’s concerned that the officials will have a hard time differentiating between a running back lowering his shoulders in an effort to break a tackle and a running back ducking his head into a tackler.

“How do we go about doing it? How do we officiate it?” Tomlin asked.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll also spoke against the proposal at the league meeting today, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS. Carroll may be motivated by the fact that his starting running back, Marshawn Lynch, is one of the NFL’s most physical runners, and if NFL officials start throwing flags on running backs who lower their heads in an attempt to break tackles, Lynch would likely draw some of those flags.

Ultimately, if the owners want to pass this rule, they’ll pass it regardless of how the coaches and the players feel about it. As Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said three years ago when the league changed the overtime rules against the wishes of many coaches, the owners “needed to get the football people out of the room” in order to pass the new rule.

Don’t be surprised if the football people are out of the room on Wednesday when the owners vote to change this rule.

92 responses to “Some coaches are skeptical of ban on lowering the helmet

  1. The owners just need to be careful they do not chase football itself and its fans out of the room as well. Getting to blind to what the fans, players, and coaches are trying to advise you toward seems a recipe for later regrets.

  2. “It’s fourth and one, and they must keep this drive alive in order to force overtime. There’s the halfback up the middle, AAANNDDD!!!………..he didn’t make it.”

  3. This rule will never happen. No way the NFL is dumb enough to make a change like this. This was leaked out on purpose to get reaction, imo. The reaction from all over, overwhelmingly is against, and fiercely so. Im not always shocked, but I would be shocked if the NFL would try this.

  4. rule sucks but still wouldnt affect a 4th and 1 yrd situation the rule bans lowering ur helmet outside the tackle box and open field

  5. Pass this rule, and my interest in Aussie Rules Football and Super 14 rugby will skyrocket.

    Gotta agree with bucslose above: This is being floated so that whatever safety changes they do actually make will seem reasonable by comparison.

  6. I said it earlier, they fine defensive players 10K and more for a helmet to helmet hit. When someone is trying to protect himself.

    Yet guys like AP get to use his head for a battering ram.

    It can’t be that way. its not fair to the defensive players.

    They are at risk for concussions too.

  7. You cant prevent a human being from instinctively protecting his body – So you will just have to call this penalty on virtually every running play.

    So don’t even think about passing this one you fools.

  8. Usually when they propose these changes my thinking is, that sucks, but I guess I will have to live with it.

    On this one however my thoughts are this is going to affect the quality of the product, atleast for me. One of my favorite things is watching a bruising back like Peterson or Lynch run people over. To take that away takes some of my interest in the game away.

    Tomlin has a point in that it is going to be difficult for the refs to get this one right. The more rules you put in the more opportunity you give the refs to screw something up.

  9. The rule is utterly absurd. This is a blatant contradiction of the game’s original makeup. Create a new game if you want, just don’t ruin this one.

  10. Yeah, let’s get the football guys out of the room, because what do they know about football?

  11. If you think it’s a passing league now, wait until RB’s can’t move the ball with consistency. Every team is going to be looking for scat-backs and Welkers, and the game will become something altogether different. It might be great, but it might be a parody of itself too.

  12. Get ready…at least once a game, your team will lose a first down and receive a drive killing penalty in the process…because an official thought he saw something he didn’t…and the announcers will quickly point out it’s not a reviewable play.

    As if this wasn’t already happening enough.

  13. AP never reaches record if this happens. Remember the hit during steeler game on CB Gay. Head down & laid him flat!

  14. Not saying it would be an ideal change, but look at Barry, heads up runner and one of the greatest ever. He still has all his marbles.

    It may hurt Marshawn, CJ, Gore, etc… career-wise but someone else would just pop up down the depth chart with a different running style.

    People get all worked up with any rule when it’s in debate but when it’s over, the players adapt and fans (95% who have never played but whine that people should get their head knocked off because they bought their jersey) will forget and forgive.

    However if the rule fails to pass and the players want to sound like Michael Spinks when the hit age 38, it’s their prerogative.

  15. It’s a stupid rule plain and simple. Everyone thinks the NBA is fixed because of the subjective rule enforcement by the refs and the NFL is going down that very same path in the name of “safety” with rules that are impossible to enforce. I’m ready to turn in my season tickets if this rule passes and because comments like Mr. little Johnny Kraft has to offer.

  16. Can you imagine a key play in the game and the rb breaks loose to the outside to get the crucial first down, only to be called for a 15 yd penalty for lowering his head at the end of the run? This is BRUTALLY STUPID!!!!!

  17. @ Shaggytoodle

    I do not see the correlation between the defensive calls and this rule.

    The fines against defensive players usually go to players for hitting defenseless receivers or quarterbacks with their helmet or helmet to helmet. The receiver is focused on catching the ball and has no chance to protect himself.

    A defender seeing the likes AP, Richardson, or Lynch coming at them can protect themselves better in the collision usually than what a receiver can without the needed time to react.

    A comparable rule to the defensive calls would be making it illegal for a receiver to use his helmet against a dback going up to make a pick.

    I am glad to see the blindside low clip blocks get made illegal though. This at least gives the defense some valid protection. I always viewed those types of blocks as cheap shots and am glad to see defensive players get some protection there,

  18. This rule would cover anyone running with the ball, right? A corner or safety on an interception would also draw a flag?

  19. So does this eliminate the QB sneak ? Since most of the time the QB dives forward headfirst, ie with his head lowered……

    And everyone blaming Goodell. The competion committee generates the suggested rules changes, not Goodell. He only enforces the rules others put into place.

    And since the owners just gave him a 30 mil a year raise you’re dreaming if you think they’re going to fire him at this point.

  20. It’s always best to make football decisions without football people in the room. Like having surgery, who wants the surgeon there?

  21. ibreathefootball says: Mar 19, 2013 4:42 PM

    “What the… These guys get paid millions of dollars, it’s time to throw safety out of the window!”

    Football ain’t all you’re breathing…

  22. Umm, Mr Kay-pow,
    Your thinking does not seem to include broken jaws and broken necks. By the way, Mr Spinks sounded like that waaaaaay before he was 38.

  23. Its against the runners natural instincts and the Laws of Physics to NOT try and get skinny. Good luck trying to enforce it.

  24. If the NFL is so worried about lawsuits, all incoming players should have to sign a waiver – the same way we sign one before a surgery – stating they can not sue the NFL over any injuries sustained while playing.

    Period. Then they can’t say they didn’t know the risks, the crybabies can go watch bowling and everyone is happy.

  25. Fabulous ..Another step towards taking the results of the games out of the hands of the players and putting outcomes more under the control of Goodell’s striped goons. More arbitrary and capricious flags to change the course of games with rulings that cannot be reviewed … No need to watch the action on the field, just stare at the top of your screen and wait for the yellow “flag” box to appear …Great job NFL..

  26. One year they are going add or remove a rule that will vastly ruin their money cow called the NFL.

  27. Mark my words people, One day , someone who has deep pockets, Will hit this just right, will recruit other people with deep pockets, and win over a disenfranchised NFL fanbase and presto, you will have another league to knock the NFL off its high horse!

    The people want blood and they shall have it!

  28. I personaly think you should not be allowed to be a commissioner if you’ve never actually played the game of football…I”m not talking high school football…i’m talking FOOTBALL. Personally i think he’s pissed he didn’t get to play college football and then to the pros because of an injury so now bascially he wants to ruin the game for those who love…you can’t change almost 100 yrs of football because you’re pissed…Get over it and let them play the game. THey need to get moving on those new safter helmets though…we wouldnt’ want the prima donna’s getting hurt. Lambert, the Fridge and Ham i’m sure are hating the game today….Goodell does not like the game, he does not care about the players, the owners, coaches and ESPECIALLY the fans…….one more indication of it…

  29. Too Much!…….Goodell , you are on the verge of losing the very fan base that made the NFL the juggernaut it is today! Believe it or not, the fans will NOT be blindly loyal to a game that no longer resembles the one we have all fallen in love with over the decades. Many endeavors have an element of danger! Its part of what makes them appealing to the folks! Heck, go work on a farm or a freight dock, as a longshoreman or a rank and file construction worker… To eliminate all danger is to eliminate all enterprise…Is this outcome really what we are looking for?

  30. idolized1 says:
    Mar 19, 2013 5:21 PM
    If the NFL is so worried about lawsuits, all incoming players should have to sign a waiver – the same way we sign one before a surgery – stating they can not sue the NFL over any injuries sustained while playing.

    Period. Then they can’t say they didn’t know the risks, the crybabies can go watch bowling and everyone is happy.
    I was pretty certain they did sign a waiver or had something carved into their contracts.

    Makes me mad they dont ask the guys who actually play the game what they think…

  31. Welcome to the beginning of the end. RB’s will get flushed out of the game and it will have to be all passing.

    When you turn on the TV in 10 years NFL will be a 7 on 7 game with no lineman that may bump heads in the trenches.

    The Golden Goosed is being served for dinner.

    Maybe it’s time for the XFL to make a comeback.

  32. The NFL Owners need to LISTEN to the football people in the room, not get them out.

    What is driving this from an owners perspective is the potential liability for injuries- not just from lowering the head but also all these class action suits, etc.

    The Owners should make iron-clad, if it wasn’t already, that by signing a contract to play in the NFL, you assume all risk of injury, and the NFL is not liable for any consequences resulting from any injury suffered, including death, from that point on.

    Once that is abundantly clear, and all these lawsuits are thrown out, the Owners won’t be as uptight about the fallout from injuries.

    In the meantime, the NFL should also consider that by making dropping your head a penalty, they could be sued by a RB who suffers a head injury that could have been avoided if he had been allowed to lower his head.

  33. If the owners, after bringing this topic up, do not adopt it, how will that play into or affect the lawsuits about players health? I think lawyers will use it as an example of the league not prioritizing safety.

    Which is too bad, because I don’t like the sound of this rule.

  34. Where have I seen this before..

    Patriots create controversy, which creates a rule change, which then allows Refs to throw games in favor of Patriots. ie. Ridley being rag-dolled by Pollard.

    This is just like Illegal contact downfield, which was a product of New England holding Rams Receivers all the way down the field.

    The problem is that these rules allow Refs to be subjective during the end of the game and to help the Patriots win games.

    Who leads the league in first down by illegal contact after missing passes on 3rd down?
    Answer: Tom Brady

    Who would lead the league in helmet dropping penalties wiping out long gains?
    Answer: Patriots

    This rule is about more control given to the Refs to throw the game in favor of the Patriots.

  35. i thought these players got paid millions for a reason……. armed servicemen risk they’re lives for practically nothing. IT’s their job. All sports are designed with war in mind. The appeal Americans have to football is the physicality. I really want to here more from Goodell on this subject, because I’m starting to wonder if he even knows they are smothering the essence of the game. At some point they have to realize without the paying customer… none of this matters.

  36. I’m skeptical because it sounds like a really stupid rule.

    I get the push for safety, but this is silly.

    Football is an inherently dangerous game, you can legislate that out without ruining the game itself.

  37. Wow the coach can’t tell the difference. How about if the helmet is the first thing that strikes the defender, that’s a penalty.

    Then they can do something about stiff arms to the face mask. If a defender does that, even for a second it’s a penalty.


    The ProCap was used back in the 1980s and successfully protected those players who wore it, from suffering concussions…in other words, the Pro Cap WORKED.

    The ProCap is a device that fits over the outside of the helmet and is made of a layer of tough foam, which absorbs the shock of any hit to the head.

    Goodell could mandate the use of the ProCap for the 2013 season, if he really cared about players safety…but he won’t.

    The Sports media needs to ask Roger Goodell why he won’t force players to use the ProCap for the 2013 season….it worked in the 1980s and would work today.

    Time for Goodell to show some leadership and stop trying to change the game with his “crazy rules”.

  39. All the rule changes coming in to take the physicality out of the game are designed to make the NFL a passing league. More points=more excitement=more fans=more revenue=more$.
    Plain and simple.

    There were some great “heads up runners”, Marcus Allen in particular, but if you’re about to get tackled you’re going to lower your head. Making it a penalty makes no sense.

  40. If they want to do something functional then they could force players to buckle their chin straps right and wear mouth guards. Both are easy to enforce and reduce the risk of concussions according to certain studies. On the Trent Richardson play that keeps getting repeated, the LB’s heltmet was already half way off before TR lowered his head and hit him. Why? Because in the footage you can see that he only had a single strap buckled. So it end up looking way worse because of a silly fashion statement perpetrated by nfl players. If you can find slow motion footage of it, go back and look, his helmet was literally half way off his head before Richardson hit him.

  41. While I understand the concern over safety, this is a bad rule, and likely unenforceable. From a very early age, runners are taught to put their head down and lead with helmet and shoulder pads. In fact, it is more an instinctive move than anything else.

    Any runner with the ball who starts keeping his head up on contact is going to have a very short career.

  42. Not a Viking fan at all but I recognize that AP is a phenomenal player, plays clean and is as hard working a dude as you can find. Viking fans and their kids are lucky to have that guy as a role model.

    That said…it would be a SHAME if AP was flagged once or twice, perhaps leading to a suspension and being labeled DIRTY if he ran with the same heart he does now. This is what happened to James Harrison who really has been villified by these new rules.

    Common sense should carry the day and this rule should NOT be enacted. However, we know Goodell don’t use common sense, so I am fully expecting this rule to lead to the ruination of football.

  43. cooklynn17 says:Mar 19, 2013 5:00 PM

    I think Jim Brown, Earl Campbell and Walter Payton just threw up in their mouths.

    Jim Brown has already spoken on the topic and said he never used the top of his helmet.

    I officiate football up here in Canada and this rule has been around for as long as I have been officiating. If the rule is similar, it will mean that the ball carrier cannot use the crown of the helmet to initiate contact. It may be possible for the crown to still make contact with an opponent, but if it doesn’t look intentional, or if the defender’s actions caused it to be the initial contact, it shouldn’t be called. The same goes for defenders, If they use the crown as the point of initial contact with a ball carrier, it is a penalty. If it is accidental because of the movements of the ball carrier then it is not a penalty. This is a judgement call. This is actually not much different than spearing. these are plays that can cause serious injury.

    I myself cannot believe it is still allowed anyway. It has been banned in Canada since way back in the ’70s. Mentioned that here on a post before but for some reason it never got posted. Too controversial maybe.

  44. I keep hearing we are trying to improve played safety. Why is it safe then to lower your helmet and use it like a weapon inside the tackle box? The nature of football is dangerous to those that play. Letting lawyers make phony rules will ruin the game.

  45. Why don’t they ask the players?

    1,847 players have sued the NFL for concussions (including the beloved Tony Dorsett and Eric Dickerson).

    While it may anger fans and the *I would for what they are paying him* couch slugs, status quo will ruin the NFL in litigation before any rule change will.

    Courts get a little more pro-employee each years.

    What happens in 2020 when Adrian Peterson and MJD sue?

    Just be quiet already with the i’ll quit watching, no you won’t, everyone knows you won’t, so just knock it off.

    What are you going to do? Go outside? yea right!

    The NFL has to at-least attempt to look like they discuss player safety.

  46. I dare all of you who claim you will boycott or move to another sport to skip even ONE game if the rule gets passed (which it likely will). Most of you like to talk all big and tough, but you will be back to watch the NFL even if they made the players be covered in bubble wrap, so quit your whining.

  47. The rules have to change if were going to have pro tackle football 5-10 years from now…don’t like it but lawsuits dictate future play of the game.

  48. This proposed rule is unenforceable. If it passes, I can’t wait for the line judge or sideline judge to throw a flag on Brady on the game winning QB sneak in the playoffs which will eventually send them packing again. Camera cuts to Kraft, throwing his champagne bottle against the plexiglass window. Kraft will work over the next 12 years (see “tuck rule”) to eliminate this dumb rule.

    BTW, any player who signs a waiver to absolve the employer of any and all risks and plays professional sports needs a better lawyer.

  49. @swagger52


    What’s the matter the tin foil cap and propeller beanie too tight today?

    Priceless lol lol lol lol

  50. Its getting to be we’re going to have a flag on every play for one thing or another. My guess is that the running back will only be flagged for lowering his helmet on plays where he DOES make the necessary yardage for a 1st down or touchdown. On the plays where he’s stopped short, the newly defined penalty will be overlooked by the officials.

  51. Fans are with the ” football people “…. Send the owners and RG out of the room when policy is made. The players won’t like this either I suspect. These games are being held up every ten seconds for a flag or instant replay as it is now, soon we’ll have 5 hr games as a matter of course, and will be about as action packed as your avg baseball game. Maybe it’s time for another league where they let these guys just play ball again.

  52. If you don’t think people can stop watching a sport just look at basketball now compared to the 80-90s to now. I flip throw a game by accident and the stadiums fans are in poor lighting because seats are half empty. I can’t even think of the last time I was asked if I watched a basketball game. NFL is at its peak but a change like this where you try remove physical element of running the ball and replace it with flags you have something that will be unwatchable. You think I ever watched an arena football game in my life or want to watch flag football? NBA lost me 10 years ago and I know this rule goes through there will be NFL fans by the millions that will turn it off in disgust

  53. Get the football people out of the room? Are you kidding me? They are the only ones who should have a say in something like this as most owners don’t know anything more about football than how much money their franchise is projected to make this season. Their concern about player safety only goes as far as their concerns about being sued for anything down the road. If they continue Soccer will replace Football and they will just buy a Soccer franchise!

  54. needed to get the football people out of the room” in order to pass the new rule.

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME! thats like saying when we you go to war you should kick the military out of the room to discuss military strategy!!!!

    im telling you in 5 years nfl will be over, fans will have moved on bec they arnt just slowly creating rules for their benefit.. there slowly allowing fans to accept the game will no longer be the same and slowly allowing fans to realize this and pick another sport to follow

    in 5 years nfl will be the new boxing

  55. floriohaslosthisedgyroots says:

    Mar 19, 2013 6:17 PM
    cooklynn17 says:Mar 19, 2013 5:00 PM

    I myself cannot believe it is still allowed anyway. It has been banned in Canada since way back in the ’70s. Mentioned that here on a post before but for some reason it never got posted. Too controversial maybe.

    you just made everyone in heres point ..WHO WATCHS CANADIAN FOOTBALL lmao.. keep you opinions in canada

  56. Holy Sh…t, what would NASCAR be like if this jackass controlled it. Can we just get a petition and move NCAA Football to both Saturday and Sunday and even a Monday night game.

  57. Eliminate this rule along with the “ground can’t cause a fumble” rule. Yes, the ground can cause a fumble even when one knee is down, if you cannot hold onto the ball it’s a fumble. Please abolish the rules committee! Can we go back to the 70’s and play with the rules that were in place than.

  58. I am 100% prepared to rip up a pair of my tickets and mail them to the league office if they pass this nonsense. It is a small token (nosebleed seats) message, however I suspect the team might retaliate by revoking my season tickets. If they do I plan to make the local news.

  59. These possible rule changes are moving precariously close to possible altering a game’s outcome. I can see a flag late in the 4th quarter after a tough run inside. NFL, you are really messing up a great sport here!

  60. “Some Coaches”???

    I would hope “ALL coaches” would be skeptical.

    The rule by nature is ridiculous. You have 11 players trying to go after this 1 RB and now you are going to take away his main option.

  61. I’ve got much better things to do than pay a few hundred bucks to watch a flag-football game, especially when all the flags are yellow. If this rule passes, my interest level in the nfl takes a big hit.

  62. The reason NBA viwer-ship fell off is because MJ retired and a lockout, nothing to do with rules or refs, anything to the contrary is either ignorant or skewed to make an ineffective point.

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