The dreaded ‘helmet rule’ has drawn the ire of nearly football fan this offseason, especially those who fixate on every call that is made in a preseason game, their mouths salivating over the prospect of something to be furious over that the NFL has ruined.
To be sure, there have been some calls made during the regular season on hits that make one pause and wonder exactly what the penalty was, though in truth, some of the examples that have gone around don’t pass muster. Just one example would be a Raheem Mostert hit in which he makes glancing contact with his opponent’s facemask with is own helmet. It’s difficult to spot, and people looking to see a bad rule surely didn’t notice it.
What is being forgotten is that the league is learning about this rule just as is everybody else, and part of that process is calling penalties during the preseason. The penalties called will be reviewed and adjustments will be made for the regular season. This is a process that all rules go through, frankly.
And former head of officiating Mike Pereira is not concerned about the implementation of the rule either, recently appearing on SiriusXM Radio.
The FOX rules analyst said that he believes the rule is being “over-implemented” right now, implying that the officials are blowing the whistle at the moment on anything that appears as though it might be a violation of the rule.
“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”, Pereira said. “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”.
In other words, it’s a process, and we’re at the very beginning stages of that process. It’s going to take time, but the first step of the process—the preseason—is bound to be the one that experiences the most growing pains, and that includes for the on-field referees.
“The officials haven’t had to deal with this before”, Pereira reminded. “They worked on defenseless receivers and defenseless players, but not this anywhere, everywhere, everybody, and I think they’re having a tough time adjusting to it”.
While that comment might sound ominous, he said that he doesn’t expect it to be “that much of an issue one the regular season starts” because “you’re seeing players adjust, and officials will adjust”.
He described the first two weeks of the regular season as “the shake-out period” and said that he thinks “by the time the regular season rolls around, I really do think we’ll be okay”.