NFL owners passed a player safety rule Wednesday prohibiting ball carriers from using the crown of their helmets to make intentional contact with a defender in the open field. Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, the former running back for the Dallas Cowboys, was one of the critics.
Several coaches and team executives showed concern about officiating the new rule, but Commissioner Roger Goodell pushed it and it passed Wednesday as the owners meetings concluded.
It passed by a 31-1 vote: Cincinnati was the only team that voted no. This was the second significant step in protecting defensive players.
Steelers President Art Rooney said of the crown of the helmet rule,
“There was a lot of discussion, but the way it was presented was the most effective way to address it.”
Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all-tiime leading rusher, voiced his concerns with the rule last week.
“Once your head gets in contact with another persons head it’s just a natural part of the process of getting tackled,” Smith said. “I think the rule itself is a little ridiculous. I don’t think the person that’s actually evaluating it appropriately is really thinking about the running back in terms of the other areas that he is going to expose himself to.”
Goodell was anxious to get approval for the competition committee’s proposal to outlaw the use of the crown of the helmet by ball carriers and there was talk that the vote would be on hold until May if the rule change didn’t get enough support.
The penalty for violating the new rule will be 15 yards from the spot of the foul. If both the offensive and defensive player lowers his head and uses the crown of the helmet to make contact, both will be penalized. The owners originally discussed just using fines on the ball carrier to remedy the problem, but decided to agree on the rule change instead.
The Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said,
“It’ll certainly make our runners aware of what we expect relative to use of the helmet,” . One of the questions I ask a lot is who gains from this, offense or defense? And it’s a toss-up as to which side of the ball has the advantage on this rule, if any. The main thing is it’s pro-health and safety, and that’s the big thing.”
It appears to me that all everyone looked at was the defenders side of the argument. As someone who has been around football my entire life, I look at it a different way. In many cases, a running back is faced with a much bigger and stronger defender and as a safety measure lowers his shoulder pads (which also causes him to lower his helmet) to absorb the blow. Thus protecting himself from getting hit in a vulnerable spot which could result in serious injury. You can decide for yourself, but:
I feel the modern NFL is becoming more like fairy ball. It’s a contact sport and these guys get paid millions of dollars. They knew the risks when they signed up. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Our United States troops knew the risks when they signed up too, but they not only don’t get millions of dollars, there are no safety clauses. If you ask me: I agree with Emmitt, It’s ridiculous.