Steelers News

NFL Changes Rule Penalizing Lowering Of The Helmet Ahead Of 2022 Season

With Week 1 of the preseason set to kick off here in a matter of days, the NFL has made a change to a heavily debated topic in the rule book: lowering of the helmet to initiate contact with another player.

According to Mike Florio of ProFootbalTalk, the NFL made a subtle change to the 2022 rule book that hasn’t been publicized to the outside, adjusting the verbiage of the previous rule created in 2018.

Per the 2022 NFL Official Playing Rules, it is a foul if a player lowers his head and makes forcible contact with his helmet against an opponent. The penally remains a loss of 15 yards. And is also an automatic first down if committed by the defense. The player may be disqualified if the official deems the contact severe enough to warrant ejection.

Per Florio, the NFL changing the wording of the rule in two ways. Now, instead of having to have the player initiate contact, the player merely must make forcible contract with his helmet to fit the designation of the rule and draw a penalty.

The difference between “initiate contact” and “make forcible contact” apparently is a means of the NFL to make it less subjective for officials who must decide whether a player knowingly attempted to make contact with his helmet on another player. Now, officials can penalize players for use of lowering the helmet regardless of if they initiate contact or if they simply make contact with another player with the use of their helmet.

This rule also makes it easier for the NFL to hand down fines to players that break this rule. Previously, players and the NFLPA would argue against fines handed down by the league stating that they didn’t intend to initiate contact with their helmet, stating it was more circumstance being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, the league could choose to fine players who make contact with another player with the use of their helmet even if it wasn’t intentional, using “forcible contract” as ground for a fine rather than a player having to initiate contact.

The previous rule left a lot of gray area in terms of what were grounds for penalty and a potential fine for lower of the helmet. The NFL hopes with a change of verbiage to the rule in 2022 that the rule becomes more black and white and that players deter from lowering their helmets in any circumstance to promote safety in the game.

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