If you were surprised by the news that the NFL had broadly banned the lowering of the helmet to initiate contact, you’re not alone. The NFL Players Association didn’t know it was coming, either.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL’s Competition Committee told representatives from the NFLPA during meetings held in connection with the Scouting Combine only that the league ultimately wants to eject players for certain “egregious” hits. The committee displayed at the time a reel of roughly six or seven plays.
As the source explained it, the NFLPA representatives understood the concern regarding some of the hits shown by the selected plays. As to a few plays, they didn’t.
The Competition Committee members also mentioned concerns about a runner dropping his head, but they never said there would be a general prohibition on every hit that is initiated with a helmet.
And so it’s becoming even more clear that the league decided to keep everyone in the dark about this until an opportunity arose to push the measure through, limiting the opportunity for a fair and transparent public debate over the wisdom of such a rule — and regarding its potential impact on the manner in which professional football is played.