Goodell says helmet rule doesn’t make the NFL less physical


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league’s new rule against players lowering their helmets into opponents doesn’t make the sport soft.

Asked on NFL Network what he would say to people who think he’s making the game less physical, Goodell said he’d say those people are wrong.

“Not true,” Goodell said. “That’s one of the things that our Competition Committee, in working with all of our coaches and all of our football people throughout the league, focus on — those dangerous techniques that don’t belong in the game. The reality is this happens very infrequently, which is good. But what the coaches all agreed to do in March was coach it out of the game. Nobody ever coaches to use the top of the helmet. It’s not only a head injury but it also could be a potential spinal cord injury. What we need to get back to is using the shoulder and that’s what the coaches all talked [about]. The fundamentals are to teach using the shoulder and that’s what the coaches want to do. They want to get back to the fundamentals.”

Many players, however, are opposed to the rule. And even many players who say the rule’s intent is good have questioned whether the officials will be able to enforce it properly, considering the way these hits can happen in the blink of an eye. But Goodell says that the league wouldn’t have passed the rule if it couldn’t be officiated, and the officials know the three elements that will have to be involved if a hit is going to be penalized under the new rule.

“That was obviously a major focus for our coaches, as rightfully so,” Goodell said. “Dean Blandino, who is our new supervisor of officials, he’s really focused on three elements. One [is] squaring up. The second is getting your head down and using the crown of your helmet. And the third is delivering that blow. That’s whether it’s an offensive or defensive player. He is confident in talking with our officials that we can officiate that and we can do it properly. I’m confident they’ll be able to do that.”

At the moment, this rule appears to be unpopular with most players and most fans. The officials enforcing the rule consistently is the best hope Goodell has of getting the players and the fans on his side, accepting that the rule makes the game safer without making it less physical.

61 responses to “Goodell says helmet rule doesn’t make the NFL less physical

  1. Initially I was irate over this decision because I felt that adding another split second decision to a player’s natural instinct was dangerous and would put him in harm’s way. However, the game must evolve SOMEHOW…this precaution feels odd because most of us that are 30+ can remember a different brand of football, if we played in HS and College we played differently and we became accustomed to that style but in order to make it safer we have to start somewhere. Maybe its a step in the right direction.

  2. I can see Adrian Peterson with about 50K in fines this year and facing suspension after his 3rd infraction. He lowers his shoulder when defenders go for his knees…and his head goes along with it.

  3. Goodell is like Prince Joffery.. No one likes him, including his mom(probably) and yet he is the ruler of the great empire that is the NFL. Please someone, take over the throne!

  4. Nonsense. There is a big physicality difference prior to this new rule being implemented & when it will be in effect.
    Goodell is weakening the game.

  5. If the players don’t like it, the rule change must be a good one. Goodell and the owners know how to operate the league, the players know how to play in it and fans know how to to watch the league. End of story. Lace ’em up, stop complaining, and play ball.

  6. Funny that when 5 hall of fame running backs say this rule will hurt running backs and its a horrible rule. Goodell fires back with “Sometimes you just have to get the football players out of the room when making these desicions.” So the future of my sport is being dictated by a bunch of suits who have never really played the sport. The NFL only cares about profit margins and swindling the NFLPA and the fans. Goodell should be fired and 90% of players agree.

  7. What would The Great Roger Goodell Himself Live And In Person know about playing the game?

    In all the major sports, we need men who’ve been on the field/court/ice and who’ve served in management as the leaders, not just lawyers and used car salesmen in suits.

  8. What’s next Goodell? 2 hand touch football?


    Ha! Good one, dude. 2 hand touch football. NOBODY else has thought to make that joke about the NFL yet. Wait a minute…I’ve got a new one. Let’s also start making jokes about it turning into FLAG football! That will be hilari……

    Oh, the next poster already did that.

  9. Well if it doesn’t make it less physical, then there was no point in doing it, correct?


  10. I can see Adrian Peterson with about 50K in fines this year and facing suspension after his 3rd infraction. He lowers his shoulder when defenders go for his knees…and his head goes along with it.


    There is nothing in this new rule about it being illegal to lower your head. Are we fans so dumb that we don’t understand this? I played football, too, just like all of you experts out there, and I still have two phrases drilled into my head about technique:

    1. See what you hit.

    2. Don’t spill your water.

    My coaches always told me to pretend there was a glass of water on your head, and in football, you never want to spill it. Why? Because if you spill your water, you’ll be peeing in a diaper for the rest of your life. The coaches are right. This isn’t making the game less physical, it’s just going back to the fundamentals. See what you hit and don’t spill your water are fundamentals of football.

  11. A: I cannot wait till Goodell is no longer a part of the NFL..

    B: this new rule will be abused and botched by the officials this entire season, there will be shoulder hits that they miss interpret as lowering the helmet.. Bad rule

  12. The Competition Committee? Now there’s an entity I trust to determine if play is too physical or not considering they ruled on the EMPHASIS of the 5 yard rule in 04. They think touching pass catchers after 5 yards is “too physical”.

  13. Just another rule that refs will have no clue how to enforce that will drive us fans nuts. They got rid of the force out, which was a good rule, for this very reason.

  14. “He is confident in talking with our officials that we can officiate that and we can do it properly. I’m confident they’ll be able to do that.”

    Right, just like they have properly officiated the defenseless receiver rules, the roughing the passer rules… oh, wait….

  15. I just have one acronym. LOL.

    What cracks me up is he says he wants the game to be safer. Well how do you take away a safety net from one position and making it easier for others? RBs are now supposed to take hits without “using their helmets”. The onlyu way to do that is to stand straight up and take shots which puts their health in danger. Then the rule becomes more subjective which will allow more room for refs to make mistakes. They can’t even get the “black and white” rules right. What makes him think they will get a subjective rule right?

  16. Let’s notice in the very first quote that Goodell distinguishes between lowering the head and using the top of the helmet as a point of impact. The latter is now against the rules.

    Why are people getting so upset about enforcing technique we learn in third grade? “It makes players hesitant.” That’s garbage. They should’ve been playing with this technique their whole lives. It should require as much thought as an NFL QB making sure he keeps his elbow high. It’s the fault of the players and coaches, through multiple levels, that haphazard technique has come to supplant well-practiced form. Players are such freak athletes now. They can get away with it. The technique exists for a reason, though: to provide the same thrill without the danger.

    This shouldn’t be a problem for players, but they take it as if it is. That’s problematic itself. Good on Goodell.

  17. I feel Goodell is right about this rule. When watching 2012-13 NFL games from a future perspective, as tho you’re viewing a game played 2-3 years ago, the helmet to helmet contact just looked wrong. In light of what has been known for a while now about concussions and repeated head collisions why was this still being allowed?

    Regardless of what has happened historically we’re in a different time now with more knowledge and experience of the debilitating condition many ex-NFL players find themselves in as a result of head trauma. In light of that I’ve been wondering for a few years now why helmet to helmet contact was still being allowed between any players, especially involving running backs and receivers.

    To those who oppose the new rule, it’s (much) easier to judge on this when you’re head is not in that helmet being hit, and having to live with the results of many such hits 20-30 years later.

  18. They’ll need a seminar for the steeler coaching staff, so they can learn the new techniques.

  19. A few of the people making comments get why the rule is bad. Most don’t. The games are being ruined because the rules are so convoluted that the refs never know what is legal and illegal. The refs can’t even get a simple black and white call right. The game will be regulated out of existence within the next 10 to 20 years. People are tired of referees determining the outcome of games. Just like the government is regulating this country out of existence so will the bureaucrats regulate the NFL out of existence.

  20. If this doesn’t make football less physical, then why change the rule? There’s a direct relationship between physicality and injury. Can’t have your cake and eat it too Roger.

  21. This is no longer in the game I grew up loving. The game is getting softer and softer all spurred by the lawsuits of grown men who KNEW what they were getting themselves into! The powder puff era has begun Thank You Roger Goodell!

  22. The NFL only cares about profit margins and swindling the NFLPA and the fans. Goodell should be fired and 90% of players agree.

    90% of the players are kids….who don’t have a clue. They were great players in high school, everthing went their way. They went to university on a scholarship….it was all about them.
    You guys want a commishiner who sticks his head in the sand and ignores the future impact to the game. There are so many people sueing the NFL. If nothing is done, it could be sued out of existance. There are very few people who could do the job that Goodel is doing.

  23. It’s going to be hard to officiate. When you drop your shoulders, your head drops too. If you don’t believe me, try it.
    I understand the shoulder thing, but when you drop your shoulders, there is going to be helmet to helmet hits.
    Guys like MVPeterson are going to be affected the most. he’s a big guy and the only way to take him down is at his knees….when players dive at his knees, he puts his head down to protect himself….it’s natural for a running back to lower his shoulders/head to get that extra yard.

  24. I bet RB’s will get injured a BUNCH this year ( they are already the most injury prone position, now there’s this stupid rule and running backs will be delivering less hits to the tackler then ever and taking more ) this is just a stupid rule.. I love football but im scared of what its going to be like in 5-10 years..

  25. You want to make the game safer and still keep the competetiveness there, Roger? Then DUMP the hard shell helmets. No? It would take away the whole “Gladiator” feel? Then you aren’t serious Goodell, and you should just shut your yap.

  26. Goodell should be tested for some high end Crack/Cocaine! He must have never played or watched football to think that this new rule isn’t going to damage the play in the NFL! Hope he doesn’t burn his lips on that stem!

  27. And btw @jnbnet it’s not about weather people think he is doing the right thing or not it’s about him thinking this isn’t going to change the way the game is played, which it will 200%! This guy just seems to talk sometimes without thinking!

  28. Goodell is instituting rules that will make the NFL safer for the men who play it. He has a responsibility to his bosses, the owners, to do that even if (especially if) the players and the fans have no consideration for the players’ health and safety. Just because a man is willing to risk his health and/or his life to play a game doesn’t make it right to allow him to do so. And from the owners’ point of view, it makes no sense to allow them to continue doing so in the face of impending lawsuits… never mind the investment in time and money that is lost to career-ending injuries. Good for Goodell for doing this, and good for the owners (most of them) who are backing him.

  29. This rule is doomed every which way. Everyone in the NFL has their own take on the rule, and how it will be ref’d. I am sure refs will take a class on how to enforce this new helmet rule, but we all know refs mess-up even the most straightforward of calls.

    The penalties will be all over the board, at the discretion of whoever is officiating that game. It will change games when a player needs an extra yard for a 1st down to keep the drive going, and that play gets called back 50% of the time.

  30. The only thing I like about this is the simple fact that it will be FINALLY called on both sides of the ball. It has ticked me off to no end for years seeing a defender going in to make a hit and because the guy on offense lowers his head to create the contact, too bad Mr. Defender, flag is thrown, 15 yards, give your opponent a first down because of something HE did. Also tired of running backs turning themselves into missles and going head first into defenders causing injuries to them with the league seemingly having the mindset of they need to protect the guy on offense, the heck with the defender. No, it might not make the game the physical one I grew up with and loved to watch (like many others out there have commented), but it will make it safer (in some regards, time will tell) and without a doubt will make it fair on both sides of the ball. That is all one can really ask about rules like this, if it is good for one aspect of the game, it also has to be just as good and fair for the other. I also agree with the comments on how it will be enforced. I’m sure many of us will be wanting officials heads on a platter for making the wrong call at the wrong time costing our favorite team the game and worse yet, advancing in the play offs. Hopefully another aspect of this rule is that someone will have to confirm it in a booth somewhere so that the right calls are made and the blocked vision of those blowing the whistles won’t be wrong. Is it September yet?

  31. I can’t wait for a play late in the game where a hard runner like lynch or Peterson runs over a lb on their way to a game winning run and the flag comes out for unnecessary roughness on a rb. What a joke.

  32. Im laughing so hard at you guys. Goodell gets so much hate from you guys, because you have no idea how any of this works.

    Goodell does not make the rules. Fact.
    Goodell works for and is paid by the owners. Fact.

    Goodell is nothing more then a figure head to explain new things from the NFL. If the owners didnt like what he was doing, he would be gone. Simple as that.

    If anything, Goodell is put in that position for the sole purpose of having all your guys hate spewed at him instead of the competition committee and owners.

    Wake up people.

  33. Only two things I want to say at this point….

    1. in reference to his statement “But Goodell says that the league wouldn’t have passed the rule if it couldn’t be officiated….”. Thats extremely debatable & although history has shown a huge level of inconsistency with judgement calls by officials its all mute because you were going to pass this rule regardless of what the officiating issues are so that statement is ‘full of it’!

    2. Besides the very top point of the helmet, which could be considered the crown apex point I haven’t seen anywhere the specific mapped out official area which is considered the crown area. Where does that specifically end on the helmet? Seems like there will be plenty of room for interpretation by officials in real time hits especially when a hit happens wherever they say the front of the helmet starts to turn into the top (crown) of the helmet. Have they even made that distinction in the rules or are they just leaving it up to each official what the interpretation of that is? I’m sure it will be a disaster as per point #1.

  34. Dear Roger,

    I am the consumer purchasing your product. I think the new helmet rule does in fact make your product less physical. My opinion counts more than yours in this case.

    Please ask other ventures….there are many but let’s just choose Coke for an example, how it works out when they say their “NEW” product is ‘better’, yet the consumer disagrees.

    Kind Regards,

    Joe Consumer

    A person who has money you are trying to acquire.

  35. When the defensive player goes low and aims for the running backs knees, the running back can’t get low and defend his knees?

  36. I simply don’t know how a runningback like Trent Richardson or Adrian Peterson will survive when pushing for a short yardage TD on 4 & 1 at the goal line. There will be flags all over the place !!! I give this rule one season then removed.

  37. It “happens infrequently”????? Is he serious? It happens nearly every time a running back or fullback rushes with the ball. Maybe 6 to 12 times a game per side. What you are going to do with this rule is expose the backs to even greater risks to their torsos, by making them run in a more upright profile. You think a Marshawn Lynch, isn’t going to continue to try and muscle his way through defenders? If you do I’ve got news for you.

    But when the running backs start having more frequent shoulder, hip, and leg injuries, what will be your answer then? Outlaw the run? That will put the final nail in the coffin of American football.

    If all I wanted to do was watch pro athletes throw and catch the ball, I’d go to a basketball game.

  38. Goodell could put a couple extra scab refs on the field, to make sure the “head shot” calls are on the up and up!

  39. “Just because everybody hates the commissioner doesn’t mean the NFL is bad.” … I guess the logic pattern has some merit.

  40. If I were the NFL refs I’d insist on the league buying them helmets to wear this season. Now I’m not advocating the use of flying projectiles from the stands to show one’s displeasure at botched calls, but human nature and emotions are what they are.

    Its 23-19, with nine seconds to go in the final quarter. Your team is behind, and the offense is on the seven yard line in the red zone and its fourth down. A field goal won’t do anything for you, its gotta be a TD or its curtains. The ball is snapped and the QB dances around looking for an open receiver. He can’t find one, so he tucks the ball and runs. Four defenders converge on his path at the two yard line. Win, and its the playoffs. Lose and its mai-tai’s next to a pool somewhere. The QB guts it out, thinking “I can bust through these guys. He lowers his shoulders and slams into the wall, and breaking through reaches paydirt.

    But hold on pardner, there’s yellow on the ground and then an ‘innocent’ zebra announces that an infraction of the “crown of the helmet” rule has been committed by the QB. The booth review upholds it. Sorry dude, you lose, no playoffs this year. The ten wins don’t mean a damn thing.

    You don’t think this scenario will happen? You my friend are an optimist.

  41. It’s not the rules, it how they are being implemented and called by the refs.

    The main problem I have is the directive to referees to call personal fouls, EVEN WHEN IN DOUBT.

    If they just stop letting poor calls effect game outcomes and use the slow-mo film to fine/suspend players for egregious hits, I’m okay with that as a tool to clean up the game.

    The refs just screw up too many calls at real-time speed.

  42. I am so tired of hearing that this will equal flag football. Anyone who thinks that traditional tackling can’t be hard should Google or YouTube Bednarik & Gifford. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

    Are you back? How did that look to you? Kind of like girls flag football? I’ll bet when Frank Gifford was missing an entire season & people thought his career was over that he wasn’t thinking that wrapping someone up & driving them to the ground with your shoulder was a wimpy way to tackle.

    If you want to gripe about the rule because it will be unfairly enforced, feel free. There is a legitimate point. If you want to whine about traditional tackling being flag football, you are being a tool.

  43. artworkworld- WTH does this rule have to do with tackling?!? This is about ball carriers lowering their heads and using the top of the helmet to ram defenders. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the defensive side, other than defenders could use subterfuge to make it appear as though the runner used the crown of his helmet, to butt him.

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.