How big a deal is the new NFL rule outlawing lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet? A very big deal.
Although we’re still waiting on specific examples of what is and is not a penalty, suffice to say that the penalty is going to make significant changes to the sport of football. The league office tells PFT that a USA Today report that the competition committee found fewer than 10 examples of plays from last year that would have been penalties under the new rule is incorrect. Instead, the league pointed us to comments from committee chair Rich McKay, who said the new rule will make a major difference.
“It’s a substantial change,” McKay said. “Lowering their head, creating a different spine angle, and delivering a blow . . . we need to protect all players at all times and say that technique is not allowed. So if you lower your head to initiate contact and you initiate, it’s a foul. . . . It’s one of the most dangerous techniques there is, but yet we’ve allowed it to creep in and it’s now very prevalent. And we need to get it out. And we’re not going to get it out by saying, ‘We need to teach it better,’ we’re going to get it out by penalizing it.”
McKay made clear that this is not just a rule that applies in certain situations, such as hits on defenseless receivers or quarterbacks. This rule applies to everyone: Offense and defense, receivers and safeties, blockers and pass rushers, ball carriers and tacklers. If you’re on the football field, you’re not allowed to lower your head to initiate contact with your helmet. If you do, you won’t be on the football field anymore.