Jerry Jones hopes “common sense” prevails with helmet rule


In many situations, common sense ain’t. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hopes the common sense will make periodic appearances in the application and enforcement of the new rule regarding helmet use.

After Saturday’s preseason game against the Bengals, PFT’s Charean Williams asked Jones for his impressions of the prohibition on lowering the helmet to initiate and make contact with an opponent.

“Well, I didn’t like it,” Jones said. “I saw one play that our rookie running back, a run that he made and for whatever the reason we all thought, ‘Well, maybe they’re looking at that.’ Then, we thought if that were viewed as a violation of the helmet rule. . . . Well, they ran it back, and it was OK even with a closer look. But it was close enough to have everybody thinking surely he’s not going to get a penalty for that. It has you wondering or thinking surely we’re going to use common sense at the end of the day relative to lowering of the head.”

Jones is referring not to a foul called on running back Bo Scarbrough, but a foul called against 49ers defensive back Elijah Lee for a hit delivered against Scarbrough. (That’s the only time this penalty was called against either team in either of the Cowboys’ preseason games.)

It happened with roughly 4:30 remaining in the third quarter of the Week One preseason game between the two teams (the Game Pass product is invaluable when it comes to watching these plays after the fact). Scarbrough caught a short pass, and Lee converged. Lee lowered his head and initiated contact with his helmet against Scarbrough.

There’s no common sense to be applied in this case. If the rules prohibit lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet and actually making contact against an opponent with the helmet, Lee violated the rule. As NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron explained during a visit to Friday’s #PFTPM podcast, actual intent doesn’t matter. The intent is presumed by the lowering of the helmet when approaching the opponent, with the head down and the face not up. (Riveron acknowledged that, if the player goes in with his face up and strikes the opponent with the face mask, it’s not a foul.)

This is the rule that Jones and his partners approved in March. While there may be some buyer’s remorse — especially since we’ve heard that the rule was sold as a simple extension of the prior rule against lining up an opponent and ramming him with the very top of the helmet — this is the rule.

If Jones doesn’t like the rule that he and his partners approved, he’s got 18 days to persuade them to tweak, revise, overhaul, or scrap it.

35 responses to “Jerry Jones hopes “common sense” prevails with helmet rule

  1. Hey Jerry–You are the owner of one of the most powerful organizations in the history of sports.
    You were part of the group that created this unclear rule.
    You want “HOPE”?
    Forget “Hope”. What’s Wrong with you?
    Take care of business, man.

  2. I’d love to see them scrap the rule but there is virtually no chance that happens. The best we can hope for is that they will at least tweak the rule. If nothing is done before the season starts this will be a huge mess.

  3. Problem is that guys are being penalizedd for hitting with the shoulder and only the shoulder because they lowered their head to do so. Of course, that is unavoidable since the two are connected to each other. So the defenders have two options: one – stay upright when attempting to make the tackle and risk incidental contact with the opponents’ head/neck area for which they’ll be flagged or aim for the midsection of the player with the shoulder and risk getting flagged for lowering the helmet. Basically, the NFL has now made it so that tackling is illegal. About the only thing that wouldn’t qualify for a flag now is if the defender tried a flying bodypress into the opponent with his body unnaturally contorted so his helmet is to the side.

  4. Cowboys first teams past two games is 2-0. 24 points scored and 0 points allowed. With Dak throwing 2 T.D’s. And both games no Zeke. Small victories in preseason yup, I still will take it. And Zack Martin is just fine folks so thanks for stopping by our thread!

  5. Scrap the rule, it’s terrible and makes football that much harder to play, watch and enjoy. Further, the defensive players are the only ones being penalized by this rule although I’ve seen numerous rb’s lower their head to initiate contact.

  6. The most frustrating thing about the helmet rule – there will be no consistency at all. It will just selectively be called by the officials and that will drive the fans crazy. Some officials will let it go, some will call it as it’s written. I’ve never been more concerned about an upcoming season. This could really turn into a joke.

  7. Isn’t it possible that it passed without unanimous approval? Let’s not be children here and play pretend that all passed rules are happily agreed to by all 32 owners all the time ever. Some may even vote no, and the rule passes anyway!

  8. I predict a great number of irate fans every week as this insane rule impacts games and hurts their teams. I honestly have no idea what they were thinking when they came up with this. In just two weeks of preseason games Ive said “wth was that?” about 10 times.

  9. The rule is about protecting the NFL against future lawsuits, nothing else. They NFL will argue that they changed the rules and did everything in their power to make the game safe. As for the fans who have to endure this crap they don’t care or figure that they will keep on showing up.

  10. Seeing that form tackling a quarterback has been banned, and was on display yesterday in the Viking jags game, this will be the year when the NFL sees true ratings decline as a direct result of the game changing too much.

  11. This rule is way worse, more frustrating to watch, and more critical to the game than any or all players choosing to kneel.

    And they actually voted to have tho rule.

    We are watching the demise of the NFL.

  12. Scrap the damn rule; what I can see happening is some official throwing a flag at a critical moment when an offensive player lowers his head and a defender gets penalized . There are already enough phantom PI and roughing the passer calls favoring certain teams made [see yesterdays Mn-Jags game].

  13. raiderej says:

    Jerry Jones is a loser!

    And compared to him, you’re a winner?

  14. If they’re going to keep this stupid rule, they need to allow replays for when it’s wrongly flagged. But that’s also going to suck so…

    Just get rid of this stupid rule.

  15. Al Riveron states that a player can initiate contact with the face mask when making a tackle. So, as long as you don’t hit the ball carrier/receiver in the head, it would appear that making classic form tackles; i.e. head up, neck bulled, drive through the ball carrier’s midsection, is still perfectly legal.

  16. The interview with Riveron is excellent. He’s a very good communicator, which is the opposite of his predecessor Blandino, who wasn’t up to the job. I was pleased that Florio asked about the number of times that it’s been called–or should have been called–on offensive vs defensive players. Riveron said he didn’t know, which was at least one time I think he was being evasive. This does seem like a rule that is heavily weighted, in reality, against the defense. Like a lot of other things.

    Riveron is not trying to deny that it’s a big deal, he’s saying it’s a “culture change.” There’s an argument that there shouldn’t be a culture change–that concussions and other injuries are part of football, and the numbers can’t realistically go down without ruining the game. Basically, that’s the bottom line of people who will oppose any version of this rule, that players just have to assume the risk of CTE. But it’s hard to make that argument for high school and youth football, and it seems the NFL has moved on from the whole discussion, as long as these current people are in charge.

  17. By the way, don’t get me wrong, I’m against the rule. Lower concussion numbers would be great if they were possible, but I don’t think writing a rule that is impossible to call correctly is the answer. I don’t think there is an answer, I’m on the side of those who think that football is just going to involve some risk. I think this rule is going to cause huge problems and decide games unfairly, unless “common sense” prevails and the officials choose to downplay it. I’m just trying to listen to the other side, instead of shouting that it’s stupid without listening to it.

  18. JJ warts and all is the last of the dinosaurs. He still believes ownership is about the quality of the game and winning. The rest of the owners are only about money money and more money.

  19. Also,… i watched many preseason games where NONE of the penalties were the new penalty,… so it’s not impossible,.. just need to learn to tackle,… sorry professional kind of makes it sound like you all can do that….

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