New NFL “Crown of Helmet” Rule Change Stresses Safety
In a league that is predicated on physical play and ruthless aggression, the NFL owners have agreed to a rule change that will protect players. The rule states that a runner or tackler will incur a 15 yard penalty if they initiate contact against an opponent with the crown of their helmet. The NFL hopes to lessen head injuries, concussions, and brain damage that many retired and current players have shown signs of.
Personally, I think the rule is a welcome change for the NFL. I don't mind putting safety measures into the game and I don't think it will totally eliminate the physical play that fans love. Tacklers and runners will have to focus on proper technique instead of just lowering their heads and taking down opponents in their path. Some Running Backs have already voiced their disdain with the new rule. They say that lowering their head is an instinctive move to break off tackles. Though their issues with the rule may be valid, the rule affects both offense and defense.
The major problem I have with the rule is that it is at the referees discretion. The rule states that incidental contact will not be penalized. It is the refs job to determine whether a hit will warrant a penalty and this will take some of the game out of the player's hands. The penalty could prove to be a huge one, especially on defense. Imagine pushing the offense back into a 3rd and 22, and the defender incurs a penalty. The offense receives an automatic first down and the defense is left on the field. NFL fans can expect to see players jockeying for these calls on almost any play that looks close to a crown of the helmet hit. When the season starts, we'll get to see whether the new rule has a crucial effect on any games.
Another rule implemented effectively rids the NFL of the infamous "Tuck Rule". The play that started it all featured Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Oakland Raiders.
If you're just seeing the play for the first time (though I doubt it), you would think that Tom Brady fumbled the ball, giving the Raiders possession and good field position. The ruling on the field, however, gave the Patriots the ball back, claiming that it was not a fumble because Brady fumbled while attempting to bring the ball back to his body. If it doesn't really make sense to you, don't worry, because I've never really had a grasp of the rule in its entirety. All I know is that the NFL owners voted to have the rule changed such that Brady would've fumbled that ball. Unfortunately for the Raiders, the Patriots ended up winning that game and the Super Bowl that same season.
Progression is key for the NFL as they've become the most watched sport in America. Other sports have taken notice with safety recently, and I'd expect all sports to become safer in general with new rule changes and new equipment.