The NFL’s announcement of a potentially game-changing rule, outlawing initiating helmet-to-helmet contact, has drawn plenty of fair criticism. How seriously will it be penalized? What type of hit deserving for an ejection? How will the league create consistency?
The criticism has come from fans and players. Two Pittsburgh Steelers voiced their concerns on Twitter. Former cornerback Bryant McFadden blasted the league on Twitter for their decision.
Only offensive players use helmets as protection which is why we see so much helmet on helmet contact because offensive players usually lower their head b4 contact is made. This new ejection rule is unfair to defensive players,#NFL might as well remove the helmets and add flags.
— Bryant McFadden (@BMac_SportsTalk) March 28, 2018
Vince Williams was a little more subdued about it but essentially said such contact is unavoidable.
You are supposed to tackle with your face. To non football ppl I know that sounds crazy but you are supposed to face rbs up.
— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) March 27, 2018
To be fair, the league is not making helmet to helmet contact with both players face up illegal, though naturally, someone is going to drop their head in the process.
The NFL hasn’t offered much clarity on the ruling yet. The league has said they will continue to tweak the rule and explain it to players throughout the offseason. Packers President Mark Murphy said the rule will rarely be enforced, saying he’s counted only five plays last season that would result in an ejection.
Packers president Mark Murphy, a member of the NFL competition committee, downplayed the likelihood of mass ejections as a result of the new lowering the helmet rule. "We watched a lot of film this year,” he said. "I would say there were maybe five… https://t.co/QRn5NjtMH4
— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) March 28, 2018
Murphy did say the league will call more penalties this year.
Like we said yesterday, no one is arguing against player safety. But the NFL has seemed to make it nearly impossible for defenders to actually tackle. It could result in more players going low at the ball carrier’s knees to avoid even the chance of an illegal hit.
If this were a league that has shown consistency and clarity when it comes to rule changes, perhaps the new legislation wouldn’t be such a problem. But for one that reportedly changes their rules before even telling anyone, as they did with the catch rule in this year’s Super Bowl, who knows what is going to happen.