Remember the hit Malcolm Jenkins put on Brandin Cooks in Super Bowl 52?
Of course you do.
It’s a penalty now, according to a new rule approved Tuesday by NFL owners.
Any player who lowers his head to initiate contact with the helmet now faces a 15-yard penalty and potential ejection. Previously, you were only penalized when making contact with the crown of the helmet.
Naturally, current and former players aren’t happy with the change, which applies to everyone on the field, not just defenders:
Just when the NFL makes progress on the “Catch” rule we get the “Helmet” rule. The way it’s written is very subjective and almost impossible to consistently enforce. Uuuuuuuggghhhh! 😬
— Ed McCaffrey (@87ed) March 28, 2018
I just can’t imagine how the NFL is going to enforce this new helmet to helmet rule. If I’m pulling, and I lower myself to make contact, and the defender also lowers himself to meet me, and we hit helmets, I’m I now subject to ejection?
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) March 28, 2018
My guess is new helmet rule will only be called when egregious which is fine. Problem with that is standard likely to vary based on officiating crew, game situation, etc.
— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) March 28, 2018
Cornerbacks Josh Norman and Richard Sherman were quoted in a USA Today story written by Thomas Lott:
Norman expressed concern of a player being disqualified for simple incidental contact.
“If your helmet comes in contact?” Norman asked. “How are you going to avoid that if you’re in the trenches and hit a running back, facemask to facemask and accidentally graze the helmet? It’s obviously going to happen.”
Sherman was more visual with his evaluation of the rule.
“It’s ridiculous,” he wrote in a text message to USA Today. “Like telling a driver if you touch the lane lines, you’re getting a ticket. (It’s) gonna lead to more lower-extremity injuries.”
Obviously limiting helmet-first hits would reduce the number of NFL head injuries. ESPN cites league research in reporting that 50% of helmet-to-helmet hits resulted in a concussion last season.
The Chairman of the NFL’s Competition Committee, Rich McKay, spoke on the issue at the owner’s meetings:
“It just seems that players at every level are getting more comfortable playing with their helmets as a weapon rather than a protective device,” McKay said. “Therefore, we need a rule that is broad and puts that in context, and that’s what we think this does.”
I’m not sure if concussions will drop next season, but what I do know is that this is now illegal:
— JerseyDevil;-) (@GM_FRAN_TMC) February 6, 2018