Despite all the angst over the new helmet rule, the league’s former vice president of officiating doesn’t believe the sky is falling.
Mike Pereira said officials are overzealous with the rule in the preseason. Once the regular season begins, the FOX rules analyst sees things settling down.
“I just, at this point, think it’s being over-implemented, if there is such a terminology for that,” Pereira said on the SiriusXM Blitz. “To me, part of preseason has to do with making a point, and I think the league has adopted a rule that clearly is about player safety. It’s the biggest player safety rule that I have seen put in in my time with the NFL, and I think they’re trying to make a point of it now. And when you try to make a point of a rule like this, you’re going to get calls that you just don’t want to be made. The officials haven’t had to deal with this before. They worked on defenseless receivers and defenseless players, but not this anywhere, everywhere, everybody [approach], and I think they’re having a tough time adjusting to it.
“In my opinion — and I’ve said this before preseason started — I still don’t think it’s going to be that much of an issue once the regular season starts. You’re seeing players adjust, and officials will adjust. I just wish they would have left it crown of the helmet and not just helmet, because you’re seeing calls that are made when the head is turned to the side and you’re getting side-of-the-helmet contact with the body. And when you turn your head, you’re basically leading with your shoulders. I think we’re in the shake-out period of the first two weeks of preseason. I think, by the time the regular season rolls around, I really do think we’ll be OK.”
Pereira said he cautioned against expanding the rule several years ago.
“I was against it, because I thought it would be impossible to officiate, and I thought it would be impossible to play if you took the head totally out of it,” Pereira said.
PFT reported earlier Monday that league officials will discuss the new rule Wednesday. Pereira expects it to remain a rule into the regular season “maybe with some adjustment.”