NFL officials go 0-for-2 enforcing new “crown of helmet” rule


Some day, the NFL’s officials may correctly end consistently enforce the new rule against delivering blows with the crown of the helmet. But that day hasn’t arrived yet.

In an officiating video distributed by the media, NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino admitted that the officials whiffed twice on the new rule last week, once throwing a flag when they shouldn’t have, and once failing to throw a flag when they should have.

The flag the officials threw but shouldn’t have came on 49ers safety Donte Whitner, who got a 15-yard penalty for what referee Terry McAulay called, “illegal contact with the crown of the helmet.” But Blandino admitted in the video that there was no such contact with the crown of the helmet.

“Does he deliver a forcible blow with the crown of the helmet?” Blandino said as he re-played the hit. “You can see the contact is actually with the shoulder.”

The flag the officials didn’t throw but should have came when Steelers running back Jonathan Dwyer delivered a blow to Chicago’s Chris Conte with the top of his helmet. Blandino acknowledged that the officials were told this week that they missed that one.

“This is a violation not flagged on the field, shown to our game officials this week that if we see this action we want a flag down going forward,” Blandino said.

Dwyer was fined $21,000 for that hit. Maybe the NFL needs to start fining officials who get the calls wrong.

48 responses to “NFL officials go 0-for-2 enforcing new “crown of helmet” rule

  1. Maybe if the writers at p.f.t. can stop being tattle tails, the no fun league would back off of this ridiculous rule. But nooooo…..they gotta publish everything like a damn child watching someone steal from the cookie jar. NFL hasn’t said a word until pft put it out there it seems to me. Now they goin be on red alert for it and make sure they enforce it. ( and yes pft, you all have that much power and everyone knows it)

  2. It was easier when we called it spearing. Get rid of the tackle box part completely. It only serves to confuse the issue. If an offensive player lowers his head to blast a defender with his helmet on purpose then call it. (hitting the hole is different) The same goes for any defender. Why make this stuff hard?

  3. It’s asinine to expect an official to correctly enforce this rule. It’s far too complicated. The league has literally set their officials up for failure.

    I don’t know if anyone has all the answers but the competition committee needs to be locked in a room for 6 months and start reviewing every single rule they have on the books with a goal of eliminating some of these unrealistic rules.

    Yes, make the game as safe as possible. But do it with a reasonable amount of sane thought. Once you get it as safe as possible have require every single player, coach and misc. people on the field sign a waiver, acknowledging the dangers and accepting ALL responsibility themselves, without question.

    End this insanity!

  4. The NFL’s inability to consistently enforce the rules of the game is ruining football. They have too many rules, different and inconsistent interpretations of those rules, and differing levels of enforcement of those rules depending on the stadium the game is being played in and the crew that is working that game.

    It’s like a play book that’s too complicated. Sometimes you need to scale it back to be effective.

  5. “This league is a joke.”

    “The NFL is a joke.”

    But there you’ll be watching on Sunday and commenting here Monday-Saturday.

    Who’s the joke?

  6. Bring back the real refs! These replacement refs don’t know the rules and someone is going to get hurt. The players should refuse to play until the competant refs are back on the field!

    Oh wait, the media isn’t frothing at the mouth and endlessly hyping the mistakes and perceived slights? Carry on then.

  7. Incredibly piss poor performance by the refs. 2 weeks in a row Whitner is flagged for a clean hit. This time he contorts his body mid air, leaving himself exposed as such to deliver a clean hit. And yet he still gets penalized. The Rams get extra downs and score with 1st and goal. While this TD had no outcome on this specific game, if this is not addressed immediately it is going to impact the a game in a meaningful way. Sooner rather than later. Does the NFL want another offseason of #FailMary-esque proportions?

  8. It’s impossible to get the calls right and consistent until they change the rule to something that can allow for that. Plus you have to have a process to support the rule once you have a rule that is well written. They don’t have half the battle won on this element of the game yet.

  9. My theory is that the NFL is trying to get players to change their style over the course of a few seasons thus expecting to see fewer concussions. At which point they’ll lighten up on the whole crown of the helmet thing. At some point seeing players acutally wrap up and tackle each other rather than just trying to blow each other up like two freight trains colliding.

    I don’t know; just speculation.

  10. What is even sadder for the NFL is the refs don’t even know when to call flags anymore resulting in fouls being uncalled.

  11. The NFL hasn’t got any ratings from me thus far this year, didn’t last year, and at this rate won’t for the next few years if it keeps it up.

    Many others are starting to follow the same route. We still watch them just through ‘alternative’ means.

  12. Maybe if they made it a “fine only” foul, only applied after the fact by the league during review of the games.

    The penalties assessed could then be in accordance with the egregiousness of the foul or repeat offenders getting higher fines.

    The consequences of a personal foul can be huge on the outcome of the game and as such the calls deserve to have a high probability of being accurate.

  13. You want to end all this crap? Just till them to wrap um up. When I played as a kid we were always taught to tackle not hit. Problem solved.

  14. It’s a good rule that helps keep dirty players in check, it will take some time to iron out the wrinkles. It also keeps players safe and by the way the refs screw up all the calls not just this rule. It should be challengeable.

  15. The refs SHOULD be fined or otherwise penalized when they make obvious errors.

    I don’t particularly care for this new rule, but if you are going to have it, you must enforce it consistently. It’s the only way the players are ever going to figure out what they can and can’t do.

    If the refs can’t figure it out, how do they expect the players to?

  16. It’s been said 100 times how silly this whole thing is but if the NFL insists on fining players for instant actions then at least make it fair to the guy not making 8 mil a season, make it a percentage rather than $21,000 for a guy making 8 mil and $21,000 for a guy making the league minimum.

  17. Thanks for noticing the flag on Whitner was BS. Meanwhile they gave the Colts 15yds and helped swing the momentum early.

  18. I will watch NFL Football until the day I die!!!
    You’re either a fan or not!!!
    There will always be bad calls, missed calls and ridiculous rules, but there is nothing like this on the planet!

  19. Ok. What is worse? The “crown of the helmet” rule or listening to ANY broadcast and knowing which team the announcers and NFL want to win.
    I never though I’d see the day when the NFL rivaled pro wrestling.

  20. I wish the people who think these rules are a joke would just stop watching the game. Go away. Watch MMA or whatever other mouthbreather activity that suits you. Seriously. We’re sick of your petulant whining. The players need to be protected from serious head injuries. This is not a joke. I have a feeling the people who whine the most are wimpy little dweebs whose only experience with actually playing the game is through Madden.

  21. The criticism is fair, but with any new rule, especially multidimensional rules like crown-of-helmet, refs *do* have to train their eyes. I also have doubts about the rule itself, e.g. contact avoidance increasing the likelihood of head accelerations which Stanford researchers found to be just as culpable in TBI.

  22. Only half-joking, but why not just have a lottery for which players get fines that week? It’d be about as good as what happens now. Officials don’t even know the rules. League is killing itself.

  23. the league needs to start reviewing all personal foul penalties, someone can watch every game and buzz in the nhl does it cause I noticed more and more people getting disinterested in the game

  24. Unless you have actually officiated in a football game, you simply can’t understand how difficult of a job it is. I officiated in a mens flag football league many years ago, and I was stunned at how hard it was, especially since I had followed football all my life. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to officiate in an NFL game. The problem is, the NFL has made it ridiculously hard for the officials with all the new rules. As someone said recently, the rule book is now too thick. I saw several plays in games last week where I was convinced a penalty had happened when I saw it live, only to realize I was wrong when I saw the replay. And vice versa. I still say all this concussion stuff could be avoided if the NFL would spend more time investigating how to improve the helmets. Many years ago, a scientist who had developed a modern NFL helmet made out of leather (I’m not kidding) was featured on the evening news demonstrating how his helmet would not only protect the wearer better, but was much less likely to cause injury as a weapon than the molded plastic helmets that are worn. The guy had approached the NFL and was told they weren’t interested. Maybe that guy was on to something. In any case, the NFL should be open to anything which will improve player safety. So, I hope that guy is still around and still trying to get the NFL to listen to him.

  25. Try also missed a flag on Battle in the Titans game. He was flagged and fined Week 2, I thought unjustly. But vs Chargers he certainly deserved one. All us in TN held our breathe and was shocked when the flag didn’t come, and even the announcer said that’ll be a fine on Tuesday, but no fine either. Very surprised.

  26. 1. Bengal safety ‘hits’ Packer TE Finlay with a high-speed glancing blow that he couldn’t avoid because Finlay changed direction at the last second.

    2. Steeler RB Jonathan Dwyer hits Bears DB Conte with a ‘crown of the helmet’ blow which was deliberate; in the open field; and on MNF in front of millions.

    Who gets the $15k ticket ?

    Sort it out NFL, this is just ridiculous.

  27. “Maybe the NFL needs to start fining officials who get the calls wrong.”

    I 100% agree!! The past 2 games I’ve watched have been an officiating lopsided joke!

  28. The ProCap would do more to improve player safety than anything the NFL has done so far.

    The ProCap has a proven record in the NFL and it did exactly what Goodell and the NFL claim they want to protected the players from the threat of concussion.

    Goodell can make up “all the rules he wants”..he “can fine as many” players as he wants..Roger can fine the players “as much” as he wants…and none of this will protect a player from enduring a concussion.

    All of Goodell’s measures, so far, are nothing but window dressing, to make the public believe the NFL is doing all it can to protect the players.

    If Goodell and the NFL just tried the ProCap on a trial basis, say the rest of the season, then reviewed the results, it would be seen as a Pro Active move.

    The solution is so simple…helmets with more padding..the Pro Cap worked in the past and will work again…just try it!

  29. when are they going to start regulating the Ref’s..

    these fellas can barely keep up with the pace of the game. Now it seems like they might need eye test as well

    the NFL is quickly becoming a joke under Goodell

  30. we are gradually moving towards flag football and I pay way too much for my season tickets to watch flag football ps the horse collar call is another one they get wrong each week in the NFL

  31. Why was that the helmet got to the size and weight that it is now? I mean is it really necessary to it be so big and heavy, where the players use it as a weapon? It’s obviously not helping concussion; at the contrary it’s causing other serious injuries. I think the NFL should look into revamping the football equipment. This sport is generating more injuries than Rugby.

  32. “Maybe the NFL needs to start fining officials who get the calls wrong”

    Now that really makes sense. Who are you going to replace them with…..less experienced officials who will be even worse? Maybe they can start fining the officials for getting the calls wrong, just like they fine the players for committing the infractions in the first place.

  33. If the PLAYERS stop suing, then these rules will go away. It’s that simple.

    I hope that players start suing other players for potential career-ending hits, then we’ll start to see change b/c it’s the player who is liable instead of the team and the NFL.

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