Richard Sherman sounds off on new helmet rule

AP

When the NFL secretly slipped the new helmet rule onto the agenda of Competition Committee proposals in March, making it No. 11 to a previously-published list of ten, the league office knew what it was doing. Someone(s) wanted to be able to push the rule past ownership without anyone sounding the alarm about the potential consequences of prohibiting any and all lowering of any and every portion of the helmet to initiate contact with any and all parts of an opponent’s body.

As a result, no one even knew about the new rule until it became a new rule, and by the time the debate even had a chance to get started, the debate was over.

But to the extent the NFL thought there would never be a debate, the NFL was mistaken. The random warnings from some (but not nearly enough) in the media regarding the breadth of the rule and its potential impact on the game have become a firestorm of criticism, now that games are being played and flags are being thrown.

“To all those [people] including those who made the rule,” 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said on Twitter regarding the application of the rule. “I want a video of YOU running full speed and being lead by anything but your head while also attempting to bring down a moving target. You will soon realize it’s impossible.”

The league expects players to adjust, either by keeping their faces up, by striking the opponent with the flipper of the shoulder pad, or by contorting their bodies to spin the helmet away from the opponent, striking him with something other than the thing covering the defensive player’s head.

“There is no ‘make adjustment‘ to the way you tackle,” Sherman said on Twitter. “Even in a perfect form tackle the body is led by the head. The rule is idiotic and should be dismissed immediately. When you watch rugby players tackle they are still lead by their head. Will be flag football soon.”

Sherman adds a link to a video of a rugby tackle, claiming that it would be a penalty in today’s NFL. But it’s hard to tell whether the tackler’s head strikes the player he tackles; one of the few clear aspects of the new helmet rule is that, even if the head is lowered, there’s no foul unless the head makes contact with the opponent.

Still, Sherman is right regarding one very important point: In real time and at full speed, helmet contact by a tackler against a ball carrier is inevitable (especially when tackling from the side), and whether a penalty is or isn’t called will be a product of chance. The only way to avoid the risk of being flagged will be to ensure the face is up at all times (which is far easier said than done, particularly when diving) or to turn into the opponent at the right moment, striking him with the back of the shoulder pads and keeping the helmet completely out of the fray.

The only way to avoid this rule being the dominant story line of the 2018 season will be to tweak it before the regular-season opener in 18 days, either by adding language like “forcible” or making an exception for incidental contact or limiting the foul only to contact initiated by the top/crown of the helmet. Or by, as Sherman suggested, getting rid of the rule right now.

However it plays out, no change is possible without 24 owners voting in favor of whatever adjustment is deemed preferable to a season that may entail a threat to the game far more significant and real than the huffing and puffing sparked by the anthem controversy.

79 responses to “Richard Sherman sounds off on new helmet rule

  1. “But it’s hard to tell whether the tackler’s head strikes the player he tackles; one of the few clear aspects of the new helmet rule is that, even if the head is lowered, there’s no foul unless the head makes contact with the opponent.”

    However, in the clip Sherman used to make his point, the tackler moved his head to the side and hit the ball-carrier hard with his shoulder pad. So it is not clear to me what the rule is.

  2. Get rid of the helmets. The helmet design has changed so much over the past 40 years that it now allows the players to use this armor as a weapon.

  3. Hopefully this helmet rule becomes Florio’s new crusade. Leave the last two behind which have been beaten to death like no topics I’ve ever seen before.

  4. He’s right. Form tackling is essentially being phased out. It is now banned from use on quarterbacks, per the Rodgers rule. Arm tackling is now the new norm, and arm tackling is far more dangerous in terms of injuries to knees and ankles because of the twisting motion required to arm tackle.

    When I played football, arm tackling resulted in benching. Now it’s the only way to follow the stupid new rules of the game.

  5. The rule needs tweaking for sure. After some of the penalties I saw for leading with the helmet,…. either the rule gets changed or the NFL needs to get the officials and referee on the same page. When a LB hits a RB shoulder squarely into the chest and the helmet is slightly down but doesn’t make contact,…. and they throw a flag ………. ????
    Pure bs. I’ll stop watching when officials become to big a part of a games results.
    I love the rule,….. but the officiating of it is horrible.

  6. I agree with him. These new rules are absolutely ridiculous. Between the helmet rule, to the protecting the QB, it’s messed up. A QB is a football player, he touches the ball on every play, if he can’t take a hit, then get out of the game. I understand if a defender picks him up and suplex’s the QB, but wrapping him up and using your body weight to take him down is not a penalty.

    The NFL is going to destroy this league. They are pi$$ing the players off, and the fans don’t want to pay good money to go to a game and watch yellow flags fly every other play. Watching all these pre season games, it’s truly pathetic what the NFL has become.

  7. The more publicity the media gives this guy, the more he sounds off.

    Can’t you guys just move on from Richard Sherman?

  8. tinye67 says:
    August 19, 2018 at 1:06 pm
    Hopefully this helmet rule becomes Florio’s new crusade. Leave the last two behind which have been beaten to death like no topics I’ve ever seen before.

    Agreed!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. So if players “ensure the face is up at all times” won’t that result in broken necks? That’ll look great on TV.

  10. Richard Sherman sounds off on any number of subjects, whether anyone wants to hear him or not….

  11. “As a result, no one even knew about the new rule until it became a new rule, and by the time the debate even had a chance to get started, the debate was over.”

    So like Congress, nobody reads the rules in the competition committee.

  12. This actually kind of funny. While all the beer chugging, faux patriots were complaining about players kneeling during the national anthem, the NFL quietly installed a rule that ACTUALLY negatively affects the game. Congrats on letting the president of the United States (who couldn’t care less about the game, the anthem, the players, or targeting penalties) and billionaire team owners (who have a business to run) tell you what you should be outraged about. So I know these flags are infuriating, and I know they’re asking for something that is virtually impossible and they’re implementing it in the sloppiest way possible, but hey! At least those dang ol’ disrespectful players have to stand for the anthem! And that’s what we all care about, right?

  13. What’s wrong with gladiator sports? Why is it okay to blow the brains out of innocent animals so they can be used as selfie props, but it’s not okay for consenting adults to bash each other’s brains out on a football field? No one has ever explained why a waiver releasing the owners from brain injury liability can’t be included in the contracts. Why not? Let’s quit pretending we care about brain health.

  14. NFL doing its hardest to allow other sports, like Rugby, to catch up and take its place.

    And Rugby is slowly gaining popularity here, just had the 7s World Cup in San Fran. Between that and people catching on with the scam that the NCAA really is, and that’s its only an American thing for our U-21 athletes (“student athletes) to not get paid.

    The old guard definately thinks that it can do no wrong, and that they won’t lose their position.

  15. It is absolutely inevitable that in 15 or 20 years pft will write an article headlined “Richard Sherman sounds off on new lawsuit against the NFL he is filing over CTE”

  16. I still say get them to sign a waiver, but of course they will sign them and in 15 years when they have brain issues they will sue anyway for some legal reason, like hey I was young and stupid, you should have protected me from myself. but this doesn’t really apply to Sherman anyway , those 2-3 tackles he gets a game shouldn’t matter.

  17. This is worrisome. I love football, and you really worry if we are losing the game we love.

    Sherman has said some dumb stuff imo, but he eels bang on with this. Fingers crossed we can get resolution to this without losing a season, or worse, losing the future of the game.

  18. This rule is abysmal. I watched Kyle Fuller last night led with his shoulder pad and they flagged him for leading with his helmet. I turned to channel and watched the Diamondbacks vs Padres..!

  19. The first paragraph makes it seem like nobody knew. The people on the competition committee certainly knew and it is their job to figure stuff like this out. The people on that committee should be replaced. That body used to have the necessary debates before messing with the game and the guys having those debates at least knew what they were talking about. Now, they have no desire to maintain the game. They only see profits whether it be from exploiting new types of fans (fantasy, legal bettors, etc.) or by trying to eliminate future lawsuits that will come anyway. Stop it. Put guys on the competition committee that know the game and understand how unintended consequences can destroy it. I don’t think they even need to be current coaches or officials. Knowledgeable fans could do it. After all that is done, when an owner votes he/she better darn well understand ALL pros and cons because ultimately they are the ones who should be held accountable.

  20. The concept is sound the implementation is abysmal. What they need to outlaw is the diving head first tackle ala Branden Meriweather who made it an art form. Impossible to tackle without some form of contact with the head. Agree with the person who said outlaw the helmet. That, and it’s evolution are the root of the problem.

  21. “No one has ever explained why a waiver releasing the owners from brain injury liability can’t be included in the contracts. Why not? Let’s quit pretending we care about brain health.”

    There’s no reason they can’t. I used to skydive and made 140 jumps when I was younger. The very first thing every single drop zone required was signing the waiver accepting risk for jumping so if you died or were badly injured you or your surviving family could not sue the drop zone.

    Its sad that the league is being run by attorneys who are destroying the game to protect the owners from lawsuits, but are ignoring a very simple legal precedent that would solve the problem.

  22. “Richard, your 15 minutes of fame is long gone. No one cares om iota what you think….”

    Actually, you’re wrong.

  23. Go back to leather helmets. Problem solved. If you laugh that comment off, you don’t know a thing about human nature. The better they are protected, the more they will use their head as a battering ram. If you go back to a soft helmet with no face mask, nobody will have to tell the players to tackle with their arms and shoulders, one busted nose will teach them more than a book of regulations from the competition committee.

    The only problem with going without a face mask, is that we can see Marshawn Lynch’s face better.

  24. The fact that Yip Yap Sherman hates the rule sells it for me.

    Note to Yip Yap – you are not allowed to do what you advocate in ANY level of football. Why are you whining now? Is it because you are all dirty all the time and really have NO TALENT?

  25. The NFL loves for us to have these silly debates, while we ignore the obvious. This rule wasn’t put in place for players’ safety. It was designed to allow someone other than the players to determine the outcome of the game, and/or the point spread. They tried for years to make the replay system so painful that we’d reject it. But since replay is here to stay, they need to find another way to control the outcome. Why don’t they just appoint the top Las Vegas book makers to the commissioner’s job, and stop all this foolishness. If Goodell is making $30 million as commissioner, I’ll bet he’s making at least that much on betting the point spreads. I’m sure they’re cutting him in on the action.

  26. harrisonhits2 says:
    August 19, 2018 at 2:28 pm
    “No one has ever explained why a waiver releasing the owners from brain injury liability can’t be included in the contracts. Why not? Let’s quit pretending we care about brain health.”

    There’s no reason they can’t. I used to skydive and made 140 jumps when I was younger. The very first thing every single drop zone required was signing the waiver accepting risk for jumping so if you died or were badly injured you or your surviving family could not sue the drop zone.

    Its sad that the league is being run by attorneys who are destroying the game to protect the owners from lawsuits, but are ignoring a very simple legal precedent that would solve the problem.
    ————————-
    I have to wonder if some sort of “labor law” type of technicality restricts the owners from using that type of waiver. If Florio has ever addressed the question, I missed it. I’d sure love to hear is answer to the question. He would certainly know.

  27. A little worn out with the utterances from el boca grande. But he’s right. The new helmet rule isn’t well thought out. I commend Sherman though for his nonstop charity work helping find a cure for a disease that he’s also afflicted with: DOTM (Diarrhea Of The Mouth)

  28. Sherman lost all credibility when he accused an owner of having the “plantation mentality.” Pretty offensive labeling on his part.

    ———

    I guess the truth hurts? Look at you, you can’t even respond to what he’s saying on this particular topic …you just go straight for the issue that matters to you most. Race.

  29. I bet a few owners have that mentality.

    My problem with rickie sherman is his cheating.

    FAILED PED TEST.

  30. Hey Mike Florio — have you already hired Richard Sherman for your PFT site or have you made a deal with NBC that they will hire him when he’s through playing?
    Man — you really have a man crush on Sherman. You value his opinion(s) on everything!
    What Sherman is saying here is not wrong, but the point is, everyone I have heard commenting on it — whether they are a former player, current player, or are in the media, have the same view as Sherman. So do the fans.
    The rule sucks and we all know it. But it’s exactly the way it’s been in the NFL since the blind owners started paying Roger Goodell all those millions.
    It’s hard to believe, but it’s true — Goodell has managed to undo more good things about the NFL than all his predecessors put together. Men like George Halas, Curly Lambeau, Lamar Hunt, Pete Rozell, Art Rooney, Wellington Mara, Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, Al Davis, and many others — the guys who made the NFL what it was — must be rolling over in their graves seeing what has happened to the NFL under Goodell.
    I don’t know a single NFL who has watched it for more than say 20 years, who doesn’t say that the NFL is no longer the same game they learned to love. Because it certainly isn’t. and now that this disaster has been put in place, wait until touchdowns are going to be called back because of this stupid rule. The fans are going to go nuts, and so are the players and coaches.
    Blame the owners because they are the ones who should be getting together and say Goodell has to go — and he needs to take all the changes which have happened under his watch with him!!

  31. jmethane says:
    August 19, 2018 at 3:10 pm
    Sherman lost all credibility when he accused an owner of having the “plantation mentality.” Pretty offensive labeling on his part.

    ———

    I guess the truth hurts? Look at you, you can’t even respond to what he’s saying on this particular topic …you just go straight for the issue that matters to you most. Race.

    ———–

    Has Jerry ever said why he kept his hat on during the anthem last week? I’m thinking Jerry (Honor Thy Anthem) Jones lost a wee bit of credibility, himself, with that behavior, and his non-reply when questioned about the incident. But, dare not criticize the master.

  32. dejadoh says:
    August 19, 2018 at 1:04 pm
    Get rid of the helmets. The helmet design has changed so much over the past 40 years that it now allows the players to use this armor as a weapon.

    Correct, but here’s another angle. The forward pass. Comparing NFL to rugby doesn’t work since there’s no forward pass in rugby. In NFL football you have the fastest men on earth running at full speed both trying to get to the same spot or to target a receiver and time it for max impact. Doesn’t happen in rugby but avoiding incidental head contact is not going to happen. Removing helmets would remove the feeling of invincibility so no one is going Shazier (calm down, just an example, on anyone.

  33. Forgive me if this conspiracy theory has been floated already, but:

    1. The league now holds the right to review and reverse all replay rules in New York by Riveron exclusively AND
    2. This new rule is so loosely written that instructions can be sent to the league’s employees officiating the game by the league office without our knowledge since no one is in on the communication besides those two parties SO
    3. “Parity” can be achieved without teams actually becoming competitive on their own and we won’t have to watch the Pats in their 4th Super Bowl in 5 years.

    I await your “cheat riots/homer/Brady sucks comments.

    Remember: When they came for Belichick, I said nothing. When they came for Brady, I said nothing. When they came for the Pats, I said nothing. Then they came for (insert your team name here).

  34. Three thoughts.
    1. I agree with Sherman (even though I do not like him).

    2. It has been applied unevenly in the preseason, mostly to defense, not to running backs lowering their heads.

    3. And most import is that it is purely a CYA for the league. This rule is in place to protect them in future litigation about head injures. They can now say “We installed a rule to protect the players but they refused to follow it. So the head injuries are on them.”

  35. “far more significant and real than the huffing and puffing sparked by the anthem controversy”

    I’m glad you phrased it this way – because you know who’s responsible for adding all the constant focus and attention to this? YOU AND THE REST OF THE MEDIA!!!!

    If you all would stop giving these guys the attention they so desperately crave, this issue would have disappeared LONG ago!! Instead, not a day can go by without the media breathlessly reporting which player stood and which one didn’t, during the anthem – thereby giving this entire “controversy” the life it needs to continue.

    Have you ever noticed during the broadcast of any sporting event, the cameras intentionally pan away from any spectator who decides to run onto the field? This is done in order to deter other fans from getting it into their head, that they can get their 15 minutes of fame by doing something similar… …if you guys would simply do the same thing (IGNORE the situation and stop giving these guys the attention their looking for), we would be able to drop this conversation altogether!!!

  36. I just heard from my brother-in-law in NY. Next year they are doing away with the Super Bowl. Replacing with the “Participation Bowl”. Thanks to all for protecting us from ourselves
    Bye NFL
    SIGNED ex-fan

  37. Quite possibly THE DUMBEST alteration to the game YET! I say yet because it is a certainty that an even dumber idea will come along only to be followed by one that tops the stupidity of the last. I’m 62, I am not playing the game anymore and now I find my enjoyment of viewing the game for all practical purposes over. Yes I am one man, one less fan but let it be known that this preseason I have watched maybe 10 plays of American tackle football and have moved on to rugby and Australian rules football. I suggest others try it too. We have begun cutting the cord on broadcast TV and we have survived. The NFL has seriously misjudged it’s audience. It is simply a matter of time until they join the ranks of the “used to be’s”. Bowling, boxing, horse racing and in the not too distant future the once great NFL. Man did they butcher the golden goose.

  38. Well, I guess hell has frozen over, because here I am, in complete & total agreement with Richard Sherman. I see a lot of people in the comment section disagreeing with him simply because you dislike the man. That is petty and illogical; if you are a true fan of the game there is no way you can conceivably be in favor of this rule, as it is currently written.

    I am all in favor of trying to make the game safer and limit player exposure to head injuries, but when you phrase a rule in such broad language that it can be applied to the majority of plays run over the course of any game, not only will it affect the outcome of games, but will almost definitely ruin the sport. If you think I’m wrong, go do what Sherman suggested and try to run towards someone as if you were going to tackle them. See if you can do it without your head leading the way.

  39. I rarely agree with anything Sherman says but he’s right about this. For the first time, I’m actually thinking of forgetting about watching NFL like religion on Sundays. I have a feeling it isn’t going to be that fun to watch anymore. It’s like we are going to hold our breath on every good play and hope the refs don’t call some ridiculously dumb penalty. They have gone overboard and it’s all because of their lawsuit. They want to portray that they are doing everything they can for “safety”, meanwhile they still force teams to play on Thursdays on 3 days rest. Hypocrites are ruining the game.

  40. “I have to wonder if some sort of “labor law” type of technicality restricts the owners from using that type of waiver. If Florio has ever addressed the question, I missed it. I’d sure love to hear is answer to the question. He would certainly know.”

    I have never seen an article addressing this possibility though I have seen a few other people posting that it could be done.

    My guess would be there is no law against it, but it would have to be negotiated into the CBA. Which no doubt the players would want something from the owners in return and the owners would want to give nothing up to get it. Both sides would have to agree it would be for the betterment of the game and continuing to expand as the rewards to all involved otherwise it would be hard to make it happen.

  41. Sherman is absolutely correct. One’s body follows their head.

    The NFL should provide videos of :
    + a person who dives into the water, not leading with their head;
    + a sprinter who crosses the finish line, not leading with their head;
    + a basketball player who makes a layup, not leading with their head;
    + a goalkeeper who defends a kick, not leading with their head.

    The only example I can think of is the NFL rules committe passing the helmet rule, not leading with their head!

  42. I’m sick of all these players whining about any rule. You don’t like it? Quit. Retire. Look here Richie, you’re a player. Play. The owners will do what they do. They own. They don’t have to tackle. They don’t have to listen to you. They own the teams. They are the billionaires. And if anybody cries; “ya, but the game isn’t the same and it’s going to be destroyed”, you’re simply wrong. It has literally never been more popular, and players and owners have literally never made more money. Shut up and play.

  43. Having helmets that allows one to hit with head first is the problem. Back to leather helmets and then let Sherman tackle head first.

  44. With all these players suing the NFL I don’t blame the league for trying to decrease head injures (even though it sucks). The former players bought this on the current players from all the lawsuits.

  45. How’s about the nfl take the multi billion it makes each year and pour a ton of money into hiring scientists who can come up with better equipment that can prevent this. If a bunch of kids could figure out how to keep an egg from breaking from the impact of being dropped from the top of a building then I am sure the can figure out how to keep a human’s head from cracking from an impact that is equivalent to a 35 mph accident.

  46. They’re killing the game we love, for what reason no one knows. I have never been so apathetic for the start of the NFL season than now. College football – Can barely contain my excitement.

  47. .
    “one of the few clear aspects of the new helmet rule is that, even if the head is lowered, there’s no foul unless the head makes contact with the opponent.”

    Oh really?? then why did 2 guys in the pats game get flagged when they CLEARLY did not hit with their helmets but ALL shoulder pads??

  48. The way it is setup now, games can be decided on a questionable call based on the helmet rule. Because it is now legal to bet on games, there will be a lot of gamblers who question whether a ref had been bribed to use the helmet rule to fix games if it results in them losing a bet.

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