The latest rule coming from the NFL is meant to keep the ball carriers and players safe. While the Tom Brady driven tuck rule has gone by the wayside the new “crown of the helmet” rule is about to reign terror on ball carriers. Gone are the days of Iron Head Heyward and seeing running backs plow down the field Emmitt Smith like head first through tackles for yardage. The days of the running back are coming to a close.
The rule states the following:
“If a player who is more than three yards down field or outside of the tackle box delivers a blow with the crown of his helmet. If the offensive and defensive player each lowers his head and uses the crown of the helmet to make contact, each will be penalized.”
The ironic thing about the rule is that it’s being put in place to protect the ball carrier and does exactly the opposite. While I agree in principle with the heart of the rule, the enforcement will ultimately be flawed and give way to numerous injuries to running backs. The NFL is defining the crown as the top of the helmet. How many times have you seen a running back bring his head down in anticipation of a massive hit by a defensive back or corner? These hits the running back endures during the course of the game will be the ones that will be in play the most. How do the referees determine in the course of a hit where and when the two players collided?
Who gains from the most from this new rule? It’s not the players. While Jim Brown applauds the new ruling another Hall of Famer detests it. Marshall Faulk had the following to say on NFL Network:
“It’s crazy. It’s a stupid rule. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around what it is all about…..It’s all about suits and now the zebras will have it on them to get the call right. They (zebras) have to understand and rule on the intent of the play. Jeff (Fischer) is telling us how it has to be. But who is telling the ref how it has to be? How many carries has Jeff had to know how to put your head down and how to react. Alot of things sound good when you’re talking about it and look good on paper. But we are talking about a game that isn’t played on paper.”
Isn’t that just it though? The rule isn’t for the players. It’s for the suits. The NFL is and will be embroiled in the court systems for years for damages incurred by previous players who now suffer from life long debilitating injuries. This rule is about the NFL’s ability to show those who seek damages against them that they are battening down the hatches and digging in for a fight. The best way to show the jury or judge that the NFL has “always” put player safety at the forefront is to actually do it. In doing this the NFL hopes that the public and courts will have a short-term memory loss and think it’s always been like this. Problem being, that it hasn’t been like this all the while.
What hasn’t changed since the inception of the NFL is the unabated willingness of players to sign contracts for millions of dollars. The players sign their names to contracts to be beat, mangled, hit, bruised and broken for money. No one is holding a gun to their heads or threatening them with harm. It’s done on their own accord and to think that the league needs to protect them is ridiculous. NASCAR drivers are well-informed of the possibility that they may never climb out of their cars again every time they climb into the driver’s seat. The NFL players who take the field are equally familiar with the dangers associated playing football. It’s not the NFL’s job to make the game safer in the context of soften hits, rules and regulations until it destroys the game. The resulting game you get is a watered down version of the game we once loved. Does Major League Baseball tell the players they can’t go into bases head first? No and you want to know why? In all the flaws that exist in baseball, Bud Selig knows one defining truth. If you make rules that interfere with the natural flow of the game the customers will stop coming and the beauty of the game will be destroyed.
Unfortunately, Roger Goodell and his pals in the league’s office never got that memo. Instead of destroying their off the charts profits, the league has decided to destroy the game and ultimately the players who play it. The NFL’s profit margin is unworldly and if it was anything other than sports or banking they would be investigated by the federal government for illegal practices. Instead, the NFL has carte blanche to mold a product that has made them billions into a lesser quality product that will still yield them the GNP of a European country. Why not? The fans will still come is what they are thinking and add to that they can get their pursuers off their back in court. It’s a double win with infinite profit margins dancing in their minds.
In the end, the players suffer the most as suits whose idea of football is a far from the product of their fathers and grandfathers.The NFL’s forefathers ability to let the beauty of the game take place without fixing the race is what allowed it to blossom into the most lucrative business in the nation. Now more than ever what needs to be fixed isn’t the intended trajectory of a running backs’ helmet about to collide with a defender, but the intent of the front office of the league who is doing their best to save all the money they can while stuffing their pockets.
- Emmit Smith Not a Fan of the NFL’s Proposed New Running Back Rule (pjmedia.com)
- Tuck Rule killed, leading with helmet made illegal (cbssports.com)
- NFL Passes “Crown Of The Helmet” Rule; Tuck Rule Removed (dailynorseman.com)