NFL not cracking down on lowering the helmet

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During the offseason, the NFL told everyone that the new rule against lowering the helmet to initiate contact would be a major change that would result in players getting regularly flagged and fined, and sometimes ejected and suspended. It hasn’t worked out that way.

In fact, the penalty has only been called four times all season, and on three of those occasions the player who committed the penalty wasn’t even fined after the league office reviewed the hit. Only one player, Jaguars defensive end Malik Jackson, has been flagged on the field for lowering the helmet and then fined after the league reviewed the video.

The helmet rule has only been flagged four times all season, after officials were calling it 1.5 times a game early in the preseason. And according to Jonathan Jones of, only four players have been fined for violating the helmet rule — and those weren’t the same four players who were fined, other than Jackson.

Cincinnati safety Shawn Williams, Jacksonville linebacker Telvin Smith and Minnesota defensive tackle Linval Joseph are the three players who have been penalized for the rule, other than Jackson. But the NFL reviewed those hits and decided not to fine them for lowering the helmet. Meanwhile, three players — Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt, Arizona linebacker Haason Reddick and Baltimore linebacker Patrick Onwuasor — have been fined even though the officials didn’t call the penalty.

So this rule change, which was supposedly going to drastically alter the way the game is played, has resulted in exactly one play all season that was flagrant enough for the officials on the field and the league office reviewing the video to both agree that it deserved sanction. The rule against lowering the helmet has turned into a big nothing.

19 responses to “NFL not cracking down on lowering the helmet

  1. That’s wonderful, but what are we gonna do about this qb body weight crap? It has nothing to do with concussions, and it is taking protection of the QB way too far. Sorry Anthony Barr drilled Aaron Rodgers and broke his collarbone last year but that’s football. Football is not handing out game altering penalties because the ref arbitrarily believes the QB got hit too hard.

  2. If a player wasn’t called for an offense on the field the league should not be able to fine them

  3. the nfl is doing everything it can to turn viewers away, I think if it wasnt for fantasy and gambling, viewership would be way down, and in time i think it will, real football fans shouldnt be happy with the current product

  4. But yesterday they said that Sony Michel of NE should have been penalized for lowering his head against Geathers…One problem there…I watched the replay a few times and all I see is shoulder to chest contact…It’s a stupid rule and the NFL (as usual) can’t get it right.
    Get rid of it!

  5. Nothing like adopting a rule that is already on the books.

    Spearing- initiating contact with the crown of your helmet pretty much covered this. Rather than add another convoluted rule, why not enforce what’s on the books?

  6. Jeff Wilson says:
    October 13, 2018 at 9:40 am
    If a player wasn’t called for an offense on the field the league should not be able to fine them

    So if you owned a store and video showed one of your employees was stealing but you didn’t find out until the next day he gets off scot free? Refs cannot see every foul on every play and there are too many instances of players seen on replay committing not only procedural rules violations but some serious personal fouls that should be penalized.

  7. handsofsteelheartofstone says:
    October 13, 2018 at 9:43 am
    the nfl is doing everything it can to turn viewers away, I think if it wasnt for fantasy and gambling, viewership would be way down, and in time i think it will, real football fans shouldnt be happy with the current product
    This is a very good point. Fantasy football is propping up the NFL and keeping people interested even as the product goes downhill. The NFL needs to tread lightly before the go a change too far and completely turn people off.

  8. Even the league knows that if players were flagged and fined for this everytime it happened then it would be impossible to play football. The NFL isn’t going to completely kill the golden goose (yet) just for ‘player safety’ that they don’t really care about except from a legal standpoint.

  9. Yeah, well, we’ll see what happens tomorrow during the Pitt/Cincy game. I’m fairly certain the league has a bulletin board set up with mugshots of which players they want flags thrown on and probably even includes the quarters they want them thrown.

  10. The other problem with them saying Michel should have been penalized is Geathers also lowers his head to initiate the tackle so why not flag him??? Anyway, they both collide with their heads into each other’s shoulder. Michel was simply charging low for goal line with his head down and I saw several RBs doing that Sunday and this Thursday night (Giants) and no one said anything. Neither Michel nor Geathers targeted the helmet but the TV announcer says “and Michel lowers the helmet” and Geathers comes off worse – and Michel plays for the Pats, so…

  11. Jeff Wilson says:
    October 13, 2018 at 9:40 am
    If a player wasn’t called for an offense on the field the league should not be able to fine them


    Obviously it’s easier to influence the outcome of a game via flags or non-calls and “enforce” the penalty afterwards in the form a fine. I don’t know how they can “miss” lowering the helmet but catch facemask just about every time. Still the same two players involved, still the same obvious action, i.e. helmet turned sideways and helmet lowered. It shouldn’t be a judgement call like PI or other penalties.

  12. .
    The impetus for this helmet rule was the Malcolm Jenkins ko of Brandin Cooks during the Super Bowl. Jenkins made no attempt to tackle Cooks. He used his helmet to deliver a blindside blow to Cooks head, rendering him unconscious. It was a legal hit under the old rules, but terrible optics for a league supposedly concerned with player safety.

  13. Oh, don’t worry, they will crack down on it just at the right time. Lol. Seriously though, when you have rules that are not being applied in the same way across the board, it gives the appearance that the NFL is trying to control outcomes. It’s a violent game. Take off the helmets, and I guarantee you no one, offense or defense, will be using their noggin as a battering ram.

  14. Everyone was whining about the rule in the preseason, and said football was ruined. Now no one even noticed when they AREN’T calling those penalties. People just love to hate.

  15. Yeah, let’s make this an issue in the media. Put the pressure on for more flags. There aren’t enough flags thrown now. That’s just what we need, more penalties. that’s why we watch football. Said no one EVER.

  16. I remember when the use of helmets in hockey was considered ‘unmanly’
    Now everyone uses them.

    I remember when getting concussed was merely ‘getting your bell rung’…. and real manly types would tell a dazed player to ‘get back in there’.

    Men. It’s all about being tough.

    The tough thing now is to stand up to idiots who thing life long brain damage is ‘manly’

  17. Let’s remember, player safety is the goal, and the NFL is doing a great job in that department. People complain that there aren’t enough flags and delays, while others complain that there are too many flags and delays. I think people just like to complain. When a player is running in the open field and he’s about to get tackled by one or more players, the natural reflex is to protect yourself. The parts of the body that are exposed when you’re standing straight up is your mid-section. Inside your mid-section is your heart, lungs, and other major organs. To run into someone standing straight up could cause life threatening injuries, so players naturally bend forward to protect themselves. When you bend forward, your shoulders go down, and since your head is attached to your shoulders, your head goes down. I would imagine any health professional in the world would agree that lowering your helmet when you’re about to get hit actually lowers injury risk. Now if you’re just one of those people who want more flags, player safety takes a back seat. I played football almost my entire life, and my worst head injuries came from bicycle accidents and baseball to the eye socket, and a pole vaulting spill. The football field was probably the safest place to be.

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