So why didn’t the NFL officially change the helmet rule?

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The NFL didn’t change the new helmet rule on Wednesday, while also changing it. Which raises an obvious question: Why not just change it?

Apart from the league’s stubborn refusal to admit to ever making a mistake, changing the rule would have required the vote of 24 members of ownership. Which would have required a meeting of the owners to be convened. Which would have required someone (the Commissioner) to explain to 32 different owners the reason for the sudden effort to find a time for getting them all on the phone at the same time to fix a problem that should have been addressed when the rule was first passed in March.

Roger Goodell surely didn’t want to make those calls, and his lieutenants surely didn’t want to tiptoe into the big office to start the conversation that would have resulted in those calls being made.

So the league instead changed the rule without changing it, taking interpretive license to add a key exception that wasn’t and still isn’t part of the rule as written: Inadvertent or incidental helmet contact is not a foul.

Of course, that could prompt a flurry of phone calls from one or more of the 32 owners to Goodell seeking an explanation regarding this de facto usurping of power by 345 Park Avenue. But the owners who get it won’t be upset by this effort to “clarify” (change) the rule, since it needed to be done and, as a practical matter, there was no other way to do it.

It will be interesting to see whether anything comes of this during the next meeting of owners in October. If, at that time, the league isn’t absorbing constant criticism regarding this rule, those who made the much needed fix without officially making a fix should be officially applauded.

16 responses to “So why didn’t the NFL officially change the helmet rule?

  1. Because they feel the current language of the rule may potentially satisfy future legal obligations?

  2. We all know that was the original intent of the poorly written rule, to stop players from using their helmet as a weapon, so there was no usurping of power.

  3. I posted this in a previous article but it’s so they can control games. They lost that with fixing the vague catch rule so they added this in. Now I’m not saying fixed games but use it to keep games close which will at times change outcomes of a game.

  4. Nobody is interested in participating in this thread because your writings
    on helmet rules and brain injury issues has been weak, thin, garbled, and pellmann-esque.

    If you try harder to be a journalist… these threads on serious sporting issues would have higher participation.

  5. I hate reactionary decisions. When people or organizations respond to problems with hasty ‘solutions’ to that problem, rarely do those changes work out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lucrative company, like the NFL, run by more inept leadership. Their decisions and reactions over the past decade have been shockingly awful. If football wasn’t as hugely popular as it is, they probably would have driven the league into the ground.

  6. PSA: Out of morbid curiousity I recently watched part of one of the flag football games sponsored by the NFL (AFFL). Since there is no tackling or real blocking, traditional football qualities of size, strength, and toughness are irrelevant and in some ways actively detrimental. Play designs are also rudimentary since Xs and Os have little meaning, and there’s an incredible element of chance since a guy can safely run through a giant crowd of people if his lil’ flags just happen to flap the right way. Pass defense is also agony since it is extremely easy for a WR to just spin away as soon as they land, making Saints-Vikings style whiff tackles a routine occurrence. So basically it ends up being a bunch of slim 5’8” track sprinters trying to run past each other’s flag grabs while holding a ball — basketball without dribbling, defense, or shooting. I only say this now so we all have time to prepare.

  7. “So why didn’t the NFL officially change the helmet rule?”

    PFT did a fantastic job of answering this very question yesterday with their headline (and this will go down as one of their classics)……“NFL refuses to admit to making a mistake while they admit to making a mistake”

  8. The NFL seems to like to wait until a problem becomes an epidemic before acting.
    Zero crisis control is a sign of Zero leadership.

    The must have a Zero Tolerance rule in place for having foresight.

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