Vote coming soon on helmet rule


At some point within the next hour or so, owners will vote on the suddenly-controversial rule that would prevent offensive and defensive players from initiating contact with the crown of the helmet in the open field.

As we mentioned last night, the current expectation is that the proposal will be tabled until May, which means it could be passed in May, it could be voted down in May, or it could disappear.

Coaches have concerns about the rule, but the coaches don’t make the rules.  As the coaches learned three years ago, when owners changed the overtime rules for the postseason while the coaches were playing golf.

The problem from the coaches’ and players’ perspective, as Vikings coach Leslie Frazier explained it Wednesday morning at the NFC head coaches’ breakfast (during which the coaches don’t really get to do much breaking of the fast), is that players operate on instinct.  When running backs in the open field have to consciously consider about how they’ll initiate contact, they may not ever get to the open field.

For the league, letting this specific cat out of the bag becomes problematic if the cat can’t be controlled.  With the NFL concerned about future litigation from present players, it doesn’t help to talk openly about a proposed safety chance and then to not implement it.

So it’s a dilemma.  A conundrum.  And potentially, a cluster made of fudge.

21 responses to “Vote coming soon on helmet rule

  1. Its a terrible idea and puts the low man winning concept at a loss. More players will get their clocks cleaned by staying high on tackles. This just doesnt make sense. The lawyer commish is killing football.

  2. NFL fans, prepare to protest. The league always seems to disregard public opinion and we must make it clear that we will not stand for this disgraceful manipulation of a beautiful game.

  3. “With the NFL concerned about future litigation from present players, it doesn’t help to talk openly about a proposed safety chance and then to not implement it.”

    I had just begun to consider that angle too. They probably would have been better off keeping the whole thing quiet until it was fully researched (both for safety and popularity). Then, if they chose to delay/reject it, they could at least claim plausible deniability. At this point, they’re screwed either way.

  4. at age 10, I was taught by my football coach that at contact, “the lowest man wins”. Players are literally programmed to get low to tackle/break a tackle as children. They are not taught to launch their bodies at defenseless receivers, they are taught to get low and form tackle. shoulderpads in the numbers, and drive. Lowering the boom on a defender is why football is beautiful, and it’s a fundamental of the game. I just don’t understand this rule.

  5. The players are getting paid huge sums of money because there is risk, and that brings eyeballs, which brings money.

    DUH. All of these lawyers have never heard of a liability waiver? Who writes the contracts??

    Take the helmets away and give them flags and yoga pants to wear. Change the name to NFFL.

    National Flag Football League.

  6. It’s a dumb rule proposition because RBs can’t lower their shoulders without lowering their heads. I’ve seen WRs do this as well.

    How else will they brace for impact? Finish off runs and potentially pick up extra yards — especially in situations near the goal-line or for a game-sealing first down?

  7. Its a open field rule. Rarely do runners in the open field use there helmets as battering rams anymore. Its not in the tackle box. It is open-field.

    Also if you feel yourself getting angry at the NFL. Stop. Think smarter. This is only happening because of the millions of dollars in lawsuits EX players are demanding for the nfl not protecting them.

    Its not goodells* fault. If you want to blame someone look to the heroes you grew up watching, they are destroying what they helped build.

  8. In this photo, Denzel Washington’s reaction to the suggestion that the Vikes will get to the playoffs without Percy Harvin.

  9. Roger Goodell needs to stop this madness.

    It’s all because of a liability issue.

    You want to protect yourself from lawsuits?? Have the players sign waivers for crying out loud, call it a day and stop ruining our great game!!

  10. CROWN of the helmet. Not the whole helmet. CROWN of the helmet. Players will still be able to lower their heads just not in the way EVERYONE was taught not to since they were 7 years old.

  11. I think the coaches are reading too much into this. As I understand it, the proposed rule change is that players can’t use the crown of their helmet in the open field, regardless of whether it is an offensive or defensive player. So you can’t use the crown of your helmet as a weapon.

    It doesn’t say you can’t lower your shoulder, or lower your head. It says you can’t initiate contact with the crown of your helmet, which would mean you were trying to “spear” an opponent, which is obviously something it is good to get rid of.

  12. A couple of problems with this rule but the primary difficulty will be its enforcement by the referees. The interpretation of whether a running back is initiating contact or lowering his head to protect himself is going ot lead to a lot of noisy stadiums this year. Nobody is going to be happy.

    I still have not seen a definitive study of which position players suffer the highest incidence of long term brain injuries from football. Is it the interior linemen who suffer repeated impacts throughout the game or the more spectacular hits suffered by ball carriers. If linemen suffer the highest incidence of brain trauma it will be interesting to see how the league reacts.

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