The National Football League this week made a rule change that has some players and fans griping.
In a 31-1 vote, the league voted to bar ball carriers and defensive players from putting their heads down to initiate contact with the crown of their helmets once they get in the tackle box, namely the area between the offensive tackles.
Yahoo! Sports pointed out that the decision, much debated by the league, “featured hysterical reaction by some who think this is the latest sign that the NFL is going softer than the lingerie league.”
Apparently, those who remain in favor of helmets being used as weapons to inflict concussions haven’t read any of the stories about ex-NFL players who have committed suicide or suffered early-onset dementia, the legacy of the head injuries they sustained on the gridiron.
Players are told from the get-go that when they hit, they shouldn’t lead with their head. They should lead with their shoulder. Maybe the rule change will make that happen.
But I guess the players who aren’t among the 4,000 who have filed concussion suits against the NFL are not happy with the new rule. According to The New York Times, Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte tweeted, “Last time I checked football was a contract sport. Calling the bank now to set up my lowering the boom fund.”
According to The Times, under the new rule a 15-yard penalty will be assessed from the place of the foul.
“The point of the rule is simple: to stop players like running back Adrian Peterson — who try to use their heads as battering rams to ward off opponents and get a few extra yards — from putting themselves in a position that could result in a catastrophic injury,” Judy Battista of The Times wrote.
According to Battista, running backs fear that the rule change will hamstring their ability “to protect themselves and the ball and ward off defenders.”
The NFL’s answer to that, The Times reported, was that the rule won’t “penalize players who hit with their head up or who take glancing blows or deliver them while curling up to protect themselves and the ball.”