Here’s a suggested new helmet rule

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The NFL has 24 days to fix the new rule that prohibits lowering the helmet and initiating contact with the helmet. Before the NFL can fix the helmet rule, the NFL first must admit that the helmet rule needs to be fixed, which likely won’t be happening.

But in the unlikely event that the NFL has a moment of clarity regarding the complete lack of clarity regarding the new helmet rule, we’ve applied a little elbow grease to the 21-word clusterfudge that threatens to turn football into a blend of sumo wrestling, two-hand touch, and tuck, duck, and roll.

Here’s the new language, codified at Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8: “It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent.”

It represents a near-complete gutting of the 2017 version of Rule 12-2-8, which said this: “It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.”

The 2018 revision transforms the 2013 rule prohibiting the horizontal battering ram maneuver (which already was known as “spearing,” and clearly a foul) into a much, much broader provision. Gone are key words like “forcible” and “incidental,” creating an all-encompassing banishment of any and all lowering of the helmet and initiation of contact, regardless of whether the player accidentally did it and/or didn’t deliver a punishing blow.

To fix the problem, this is the new rule that the NFL should adopt immediately: “It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate contact and makes forcible contact with his helmet against an opponent. Incidental contact by the player’s helmet with an opponent shall not be a foul.”

That’s all that needs to be done to ensure that the rule as written doesn’t become applied as written, creating a major problem for the NFL throughout the 2018 season and until the rule inevitably is changed.

Make no mistake about it. The rule inevitably will be changed. The NFL can either do it now, before a full season is marred by the new rule, or do it later, after realizing that the proper application of a bad rule has affected the outcome of contests, influenced the process of qualifying for the postseason, and/or impacted the final score of playoff games, up to and including Super Bowl LIII.

It’s inexcusable, frankly, for the league to knowingly embrace this genuine threat to the integrity of the game (as opposed to trumped-up threats like varying air pressure in footballs), when a quick and easy fix is so readily available.

So that’s the most important question to be resolved over the next 24 days. The NFL knows the pipe is leaking. The NFL knows how to fix it. Will the league admit that a fix is needed before the pipe bursts?

57 responses to “Here’s a suggested new helmet rule

  1. football is a tough sport, the helmets are hard, go to a foam type material like a bicycle helmet and and make it pointless to use the head as a projectile. Yes they would not be as durable, but as far as the impact of a blow would be lessened.

    I’m sure Riddel and the other helmet companies do not want to go to this……

  2. If recent history is our guide, the NFL will leave the rule in place all year. They will, however, play the Super Bowl under the rule as they plan to update it for next season. Then, they will take away Pats draft picks.

  3. The rule provides another mechanism for the NFL’s refs to easily fix the outcomes of games, i.e. gifting the Patriots unearned wins as every observer of the game has witnessed over and over every season.

    It’s also done for the purpose of making sure the NFL pays at little as possible in healthcare later in life to the players whose bodies they’ve grown wealthier off.

  4. Excellent job Mike! Now was that so hard?
    Now, the issue will remain as to whether these ego maniacs will accept a logical solution for the good of everyone concerned, or will they cling to the drama and controversy their clumsy blunders have created for the sake of continued headlines?

  5. 500 plus million dollars in lawsuits say get the head out of football tackling and play as much as possible. The complainers are the same ones that said the NFL doesn’t care. Talk about having it both ways.

  6. Mike Florio’s right. The management of the NFL has gone off the rails under the direction of Goodell. He’s attacked enough, but the continued protest issue was his fault in being too “PC” and not taking immediate strong leadership action. He’s created a ‘plateful’ for himself. Declining NFL TV viewership, signs of declining game attendance, growing high game ticket/parking/concession prices across the board, Leaking at NFL HQ. The cheer leader issue, yes, the misguided helmet rule, the massive gambling issue which he must address, the ‘relocation’ policy which he and the owners must address with the Raiders moving from their fan base and the clearly failed ‘relocation’ of a once great NFL franchise…the Chargers. These growing problems do not auger well for NFL owners.

  7. They will only change the rule if there is a huge fan backlash. Which sadly wont happen until some team loses due to a horrible play call. If you are passionate about NFL, make sure to voice concern in every social media channel. Perhaps then they will listen.

  8. Trying to change years and years of play style in the matter of months. The players lowering their helmets is as ordinary as someone tying their shoes. The NFL is becoming a joke, and very quickly. Pretty soon it will be a penalty if a player looks at a player on the opposing team.

  9. The rule is fine, so far as the league is clear what will be called in games, officials are consistent and such penalties are reviewable. The keyword is INITIATING contact with head lowered. Much too complicated for a lawyer to get.

  10. I like Mike’s proposal a lot. Unfortunately, it is way too sensible and logical to have any chance of being accepted by the NFL geniuses who come up with this stuff.

  11. It’s not that Goodell has no integrity, he has no instincts. He waits too long when a decision needs to be made. He is clearly waiting to hear from all the teams or a majority to do something. Either that or they don’t trust him to do the right thing so they don’t let him do it without a quorum.

  12. As the NFL grows older and evolves, so does the list of rules. Today’s NFL officials practically have to possess doctorate degrees to interpret & apply the rules today. The NFL simply has painted itself into a corner. The NFL will either: A) Make intelligent decisions to save the game of football, or… B) Go extinct. Whatever the case, this cannot go on any longer. The games are getting longer due to constant reviews by the officials. It’s no longer entertainment. My life is stressful enough as it is…

  13. “It’s inexcusable, frankly, for the league to knowingly embrace this genuine threat to the integrity of the game (as opposed to trumped-up threats like varying air pressure in footballs), when a quick and easy fix is so readily available.”

    It is as if sports writers are more afraid of the Goodell regime than ‘journalists’ are of the PotUS. It’s one more skidmark on the NFL shield under his watch.

  14. I’m sure it’s been suggested before, but my attempt at a solution would be to remove the facemask. If you’re as likely to lose your teeth or good looks by inflicting a blow, as much as you are receiving one, maybe we’d see a move towards correct, form tackling.

  15. And to these players past and present, you signed up for a brutal, contact sport. Now you are trying to get as much money as possible by claiming stupidity to the risks of playing the game. That’s what the problem is, these players and their families are greedy and playing the ignorant card. Yet the same players that have filed the lawsuits will encourage their kids to play this same sport, and when the time comes, play the ignorant card so they can get another handout.

    Want it simple? Any player coming into the NFL from college must sign a waiver saying you are not holding the league, the helmet manufacturer, or anyone else accountable for the risks that YOU take for as long as you live. You play at your own risk, or you don’t play, it’s that simple.

  16. That makes no sense.
    How would the “incidental contact” clause you added clear anything up? If a player lowers his head to make contact, it’s by definition not incidental. It’s just nonsense.

  17. It’s inexcusable, frankly, for the league to knowingly embrace this genuine threat to the integrity of the game (as opposed to trumped-up threats like varying air pressure in footballs), when a quick and easy fix is so readily available.

    So that’s the most important question to be resolved over the next 24 days. The NFL knows the pipe is leaking. The NFL knows how to fix it. Will the league admit that a fix is needed before the pipe bursts?
    Well said sir! That is the issue. Will the NFL fix the rule now without ruining a season? I certainly hope so. All these teams, coaches, players,and fans deserve better. Did the NFL write a new rule so poorly that we would come to love the 2013 change? If so, mission accomplished! I do agree that there could easily be fixing component as well. Even if not for that purpose it gives the appearance of it.

  18. FinFan68 says:
    August 13, 2018 at 12:09 pm
    No spearing has been a rule for decades, no?
    ****************

    You don’t have to leave your feet to use your helmet as a weapon. Played ball much?

  19. Okay, but then you’re leaving the words “forcible” and “incidental” to the interpretation of officials at game speed. How does that make it any better?

  20. “The NFL can either do it now, before a full season is marred by the new rule, or do it later”

    C’mon man, Roger and his cronies always dig their heels in against any kind of pushback.

    “It’s inexcusable, frankly, for the league to knowingly embrace this genuine threat to the integrity of the game (as opposed to trumped-up threats like varying air pressure in footballs), when a quick and easy fix is so readily available.”

    Roger and his cronies have zero integrity and have no idea what the word means, even though they squawk it out all the time.

  21. Most good coaches always teach players, both offense and defense, to tackle, block and rush with heads up. The thing is, many players don’t do it. Now, maybe they will.

  22. “i.e. gifting the Patriots unearned wins as every observer of the game has witnessed over and over every season.”

    Oh please. Any neutral observer has seen the Pats get screwed as well as helped by bad calls the same as every other team does. But because you hate the Pats you focus on the handful of bad calls that help them and ignore the ones that screw them over as if they don’t exist.

    That’s called a double standard by the way

  23. “If they don’t fix the helmet rule I’m boycotting the games”

    See how stupid that sounds to those boycotting kneeling players !

  24. THe rule doesn’t need to be changed it’s already clear. If the helmet is the first part of your body that touches the opponent then it is a penalty ( initiate and make contact ). Players just need to learn proper tackling. Rugby players don’t wear helmets and they know how to tackle without going head first into their opponents, it’s time for the NFL players learn.

  25. tball25 says:
    August 13, 2018 at 11:49 am

    “Less armor will make the game safer., Take away the pads that make weapons”.

    And what should we call it? I got an idea, how about rugby.

  26. I like it. The biggest problem with the rules is that they have been written and re-written so many times, the book has become way too complicated.

    Great leaders take complicated situations and simplify them so everybody is clear on what needs to be done. Roger and the rules committee have done exactly the opposite and sooner or later, the bureaucracy will crumble because of its own weight.

    Rip up the rule book and start over. Make it clear and concise. I’ll be happy to head up this one gratis.

  27. ghjjf says:

    August 13, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    THe rule doesn’t need to be changed it’s already clear. If the helmet is the first part of your body that touches the opponent then it is a penalty ( initiate and make contact ). Players just need to learn proper tackling. Rugby players don’t wear helmets and they know how to tackle without going head first into their opponents, it’s time for the NFL players learn.
    ——————–
    Have you ever watch a rugby game?

    They LEAD with their head all of the time.
    They just hit with their shoulders and body.

    This new helmet rule makes leading with your helmet/head illegal and a penalty.
    Just about every tackle someone leads with their helmet/head.

  28. Personally, I have no issue with the rule as worded and hope they continue to enforce it. The players will learn to change and the ones who don’t will be without a job.

  29. I got tossed from a level 5 white water raft. Hit my head on a rock and was dizzy for a moment and got out of it.

    If not for that ‘crappy’ plastic helmet, who knows. I was shocked at how well it protected me. If I were to ram the rock, well, that’s a different story. Point being…should be obvious.

  30. Players created this mess, not the NFL. Perhaps if they all had a provision on their contract that stated they were aware of the physical dangers of the NFL, and won’t participate in a post-career money grab lawsuit, then the NFL will be happy to go back to the original rule.

    Of course, if the rule doesn’t get changed, it won’t be the first time that the entire result of the season can be called into question. 2012 season anyone? It only took 3 weeks for the replacement refs to tank the entire season.

  31. Hey NFL, just do what the more popular college game does and go with a “targeting” call. At least the NCAA is competent enough not to overthink this thing!!

  32. It will be kept as-is and mainly enforced on small market teams and to swing the momentum of a game to best suit the NFL’s prevailing storyline.

  33. When viewership drops another 50% this year then maybe they’ll get rid of all the new rules hurting the product and find a way to resolve the anthem protests. I never thought in my wildest mind that the NFL would fold, but it’s becoming a bigger and bigger possibility a new league will take over if the ship isn’t righted, and soon.

  34. The issue that the Owners crafted and voted on this as a permanent rule change with no debate or discussion with anybody, then surreptitiously slipped it in, before the first preseason game, should have the NFLPA up in arms and screaming as it has the potential to impact individual players’ careers with possible unfair penalties, ejections etc., as well as harm team standings. When a player making a correct textbook tackle gets called because of a misunderstanding of the rule, this needs to be addressed immediately before the beginning of the regular season, as the willful disregard of this problem casts a shady and corrupt shadow on the integrity of the game.
    The players don’t make the rules but are the ones who have to work within them and are impacted the most, so it would seem some player input would be appropriate and might even help the NFL out with legal issues down the road.

  35. joeflaccosunibrow says:
    August 13, 2018 at 12:08 pm
    It’s not that Goodell has no integrity, he has no instincts.

    ——–

    No….he has no integrity. None whatsoever.

  36. “It’s inexcusable, frankly, for the league to knowingly embrace this genuine threat to the integrity of the game ”

    You cant think that matters to them. At this point it would just be one more on a long list.

  37. It is simple… Make all helmets with airbags.If they go off, it is a penalty. Otherwise, let them play.

  38. Want to reduce concussions?

    1. MAKE MOUTHPIECES MANDATORY- the fact that the NFL is changing rules but doesn’t make mouthpieces mandatory when they directly contribute to lessen concussion risk is asinine.

    2. Make players where knee pads. Lots of concussions take place when players take knees to the head. Knee pads help lessen that blow some.

    The fact that the NFL makes these sweeping changes that are ambiguous while ignoring small concrete changes demonstrates that this is more a dog and pony show than trying to accomplish something.

  39. “this genuine threat to the integrity of the game ”
    are you serious? the game has been a joke since they altered the pass defense rules in early 2000s because Peyton cried about it. Until DBs are allowed to play defense, and until they stop calling njeedless “holding” penalties that occur 25 yards from the ball, and until they make Pass interference a 15yd penalty and not a freebie spot of ball foul….the nfl product will continue to be as awful as it has been for the last 15+ years. It is not the sport I used to like and has not been close in a long time. And hard hits are not the reason.

  40. Disposable and consumable helmets. Make them like they make cars nowadays. Cars have planned crumple zones to absorb the impact, helmets could be planned with that in mind. Use em and lose em.
    The helmet vendors would like it because the disposability and planned destruction of the new helmets would mean they get replaced regularly.

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