Jerry Rice likens helmet rule to “powder puff football”


The man who was recently voted the greatest player in NFL history is not on board with the NFL’s latest attempt to make the game safer.

Jerry Rice, who was named in an NFL Network poll as the top player ever to play the game, said on NFL Live that he has a serious problem with the owners’ decision to start penalizing ball carriers if they initiate contact with the top of the helmet outside the tackle box.

“I know the players are going to adjust and it’s all about protecting the players, but football is football,” Rice said. “Now, do you want to turn this into like a powder puff football? Because guys have to be able to protect themselves. You can’t lead with the crown of the helmet, I know that. But when you’re out in the open field, you’ve got to be able to drop your shoulders and deliver a blow.”

NFL Live host Trey Wingo then added, “And you can’t drop your shoulders without dropping your head. That’s the problem.”

Rice is joining many of the greatest offensive players of his generation, including Emmitt Smith and Eric Dickerson, in speaking out against this rule. And so we see once again that the strongest opponents of the NFL’s attempts to protect the players are the players themselves.

52 responses to “Jerry Rice likens helmet rule to “powder puff football”

  1. Not For Long league…Goodell is killing it, with help from the owners. And what is the deal with John Clayton’s face on SportsCenter?

  2. Just because your head goes down when you drop your shoulder doesn’t mean you have to make contact with the crown of your helmet.

    The league doesn’t want open field runners using their helmet like a battering ram, which they shouldn’t do. This uproar is out of control.

  3. Don’t these idiots realize that the rule is talking about ramming a defender with the crown of your helmet? Not just lowering your head in general.
    It’s like that classic clip of Earl Campbell ramming his helmet right into the chest of a Rams player. THAT kind of play would be penalized.

  4. Usually its the guy who drops his head that gets hurt…so lets just let him injure himself if he wants to. Every other safety-minded penalty is made so you cant hurt the other team-not yourself.

  5. The players know what they are getting themselves into. Unfortunately, the lawyers already are, and will eventually destroy the game completely. It’s probably only a matter of time before lawyers start convincing players to sue each other for illegal hits made on the field. Hell, in 50 years there probably won’t even be any more contact sports because the lawyers will have infested them all.

  6. The problem is that a runner will drop his head (shoulders) and not be able to see the 2 or 3 defenders in front of him as they come in from the side. There’s no question this will cause crown of the helmet hits and referees will not have perfect angles to see what caused it.

    This is getting to be stupid 101.

  7. We’ll see how the refs decide to call this new rule but the first time I see a flag on a previously normal open field tackle I turn off the NFL forever.

  8. I agree this is about the lawyers, but this will add a different dimension to the game. We might see more forearm shivers, more blasts to the sternum (toes up!). There could be some good that come out of this. And you can still strike with the hairline of the helmet.. It takes away a move that some players may have singularly relied on and open things up to be a little more interesting. I guarantee players will not stop trying to hit each other as hard as they can, they will now just have to use another part of the body to do it.

  9. You can “drop your shoulder and deliver a blow”, they’re actually encouraging using the shoulder.

    Nowhere does it say you can’t drop your head. It’s dangerous to lead with the crown of the helmet at high speed, putting all of the force of a collision onto the head and neck is not protecting yourself.

  10. I still remember that old video of Earl Campbell getting up a head of steam, leading with his head and just knocking some linebacker on his ass on his way to more yards.

  11. If Jim Brown says it can work – it can work. I don’t know how these guys don’t break their necks when they go helmet first. The last line of the article is the most critical line – former players are suing because of the effects of head injuries and now are grousing about the fact that players can’t lead with their heads…contradiction?

  12. If you want to know what is leading to the demise of the NFL that we know and love one look no further than the 2000 + former players and their attorney’s who are involved in the concussion lawsuits. That right there is the real culprit. The NFL has got to position themselves so that it looks like they were active and genuinely concerned for player safety when these lawsuits come down. This message was not brought to you by a real attorney, just a fan, Offices Bradenton!

  13. And as an afterthought – these goof ex-players go on a show like “Dancing with the Stars” and use words like “powder puff”….are you kidding me??? That insipid show is the very essence of “powder puff”….

  14. Youtube search Trent Richardson Kurt Coleman. That’s the kind of they’re trying to take away. It won’t ruin the game, in fact I’ll bet you trent was a little dizzy after delivering that hit. It made no difference in the play, he could have just tried to run through the tackle. Instead he essentially gave up at that moment and said “i’m going to hit you before you hit me”.

    Lower your shoulder and try to knock the guy over with your body. I know the concern is concussions, but eventually someone’s going to break their neck hitting like that.

    Go ahead and thumbs down this post. But you know you’ll still watch football every sunday and aside from 5-10 calls per year you won’t care one bit about this new rule.

  15. And stop telling me that the rule isn’t as harsh as everyone is making it unless you’re going to be one of the people out there making the judgmental call…

  16. “Don’t these idiots realize that the rule is talking about ramming a defender with the crown of your helmet? Not just lowering your head in general.
    It’s like that classic clip of Earl Campbell ramming his helmet right into the chest of a Rams player. THAT kind of play would be penalized.”

    …EXACTLY. You know how awesome that play is? It has gone down in history as one of the staple examples of what a “power back” is. To penalize that is to take away the glory of football.

  17. Don’t these idiots realize that the rule is talking about ramming a defender with the crown of your helmet? Not just lowering your head in general.
    It’s like that classic clip of Earl Campbell ramming his helmet right into the chest of a Rams player. THAT kind of play would be penalized.


    When I read this comment, there were 23 thumbs up and 44 thumbs down. That means 44 idiots who don’t realize that the rule is talking about ramming a defender with the crown of their helmet, not just lowering your head in general. 44 and counting, I’m sure…

  18. I love how the only players speaking out against this rule are from the offensive side of the ball. Defensive players are “licking their chops”. lol

  19. I can only imagine what Goodell’s next rule change is. He’ll probably outlaw on-field profanity and demand that all players wear the pink breast cancer ribbons year-round. Play nice, boys, and please remember that it’s not nice to tackle other people.

  20. Go Rule people have law suits that’s y they voted to change rule. Go rule save Players after football. Fans only care about the GAME those are real people too.

  21. Maybe Rice and the others should complain to all the ex-players who are suing the NFL for brain injuries. Kind of hypocritical don’t you think?

    This is a business (the players can ask their agents if they don’t know what a business is), and the NFL is reducing future liability.

    Can’t have it both ways. Let me play, but let me sue if I start forgetting where my keys are.

  22. I’d say with strong confidence that part of the allure of football is the toughness it takes to play the game, especially at the pro level. With that toughness comes the potential to get injured. Not saying that anyone wants that to happen but that risk is part of the reason these guys make millions of dollars. They are sacrificing the toughness of football and taking the toughness out of football is like taking jumping out of basketball.

  23. And yet another true ALL TIME GREAT disagrees with the self-proclaimed “Best Running Back Ever” Jim Brown. Can we now all agree to not listen to anything Jim Brown says?

  24. The NFL knows this type of rule is ridiculous and may possibly harm the game but the damage the attorney’s can do if they don’e act is much greater. Each time former AND current players speak out against these “safety rules” you can bet they are logged carefully by the NFL attorneys and will be used against any injury lawsuits filed by current or former players. They will have so many the players will never stand a chance of winning any injury related lawsuit.

  25. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if everyone wants “manly” football, past/present/future NFL players can agree to waive all rights to future health grievances filed against the league and team(s).

    Problem solved.

  26. the first thing you teach all players is not to hit with the top of your helmet,,,whats the big deal …basic football…see what you are hitting …

  27. Drama. Drama. Drama. Relax.
    1) Who cares what Rice thinks about this.
    2) Read the rule, it is only limited to the “Crown”, outside the tackle box. Not a big deal…

  28. Actually it’s the ex-players who are killing the league. They are the ones filing lawsuit after lawsuit. In their all-about-me shortsightedness to cash in because they planned poorly and acclimated to unsustainable lifestyles. A Chevy Impala or a Honda Accord will go the same exact places as an AMG S-Class will.

  29. The more interesting point is….. How will the refs call this with any consistency? They can’t get holding calls correct in the most important game of the year (the Super Bowl) how will they ever get this right……..

  30. Don’t blame Goodell, blame the lawyers and their clients suing the league.

    The league has to protect itself, anyone directly invested in helping a business succeed understands this.

  31. I think what they will find is that the players will suffer more back injuries by dipping their shoulder and twisting their backs during contact.

  32. “You can’t drop your shoulder without dropping your head”…..incorrect. You flexor muscles(which allow your head to bend forward) are not in your shoulder girdle so in other words…the bending of you neck is completely independent of your shoulder dropping.

    The people who are mad with this rule must understand the rule at hand. First off, its outside the tacklebox…I guarantee if you lower your head outside of the tacklebox you are not protecting yourself…you are trying to lay someone out. You can lay them out with a stiff arm, a shoulder, or a forearm…those things break or dislocate but don’t cause paralysis and death so I think they sound like better options. Also, most normal human beings do not even have a strong enough neck to take half of the contact that these guys take so for all of you who are like ” now football is for sissys”…you my friend could not even play football or your probably would not make it pass the first game. Think of how strong trent Richardson’s neck must be to actual lay a blow like that…I will promise you that yours is not that strong so until you put your life on the line everyday please hold your sissy comments.

    FYI…when I played football in high school there were many pictures everywhere that had an X on people lowering their heads period….just saying. Do not let your drool for violence mess up your judgement for safety. I would like these guys to go home to their families.

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