The New NFL Helmet Rule Takes Center Stage After Preseason
The recently-established NFL helmet rule will stand. However, the new rule is currently surrounded by controversy after recent events demonstrated its weaknesses.
In Saturday’s night NFL preseason match between the Chargers and Cardinals, a pair of fouls were called on Arizona players. First, a penalty called on safety A.J. Howard, wiped out a fumble that the Cardinals capitalized on and recovered.
It was called an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver, but Chargers tight end Sean Culkin secured the ball long enough to no longer be defenseless. More than that, he possessed the ball long enough to complete the process of making the catch. This could have been a result of Howard lowering his helmet to make contact, which is what he did.
But here’s where the issue gets bigger: Many say that he was left with no choice. Howard tries to pull off a form tackle in real time and at full speed, but he misses the mark and his helmet hits Culkin. As the rule stands, this calls for a penalty every time.
The second incident happened in the same game. Cardinals safety Travell Dixon, after attempting a form tackle, lowered his helmet and made contact with Chargers receiver Geremy Davis. Again, as the rule is written, the flag was thrown and a foul was called.
Referee Brad Allen emphasized that more of these fouls will be seen during the preseason, but everything that the rule states are being applied properly. The issue is that those who established the rule made it so extensive that it will try to straighten irreparable behavior within the confines of the way the game has been played, for decades.
All aforementioned events are cases for concern. The coaching staff, players, and even commissioners should keep their eyes open.
The NFL helmet rule is far more extensive, covering not only the intentional use of the helmet as a weapon but also accidental contact that could happen when one moving player clashes with another moving player. And the smart move would be to revamp the rule in a more focused way, to arrange a meeting between the owners, and to go through the specifics of the rule the same way the first implemented rule was decided in March.
Furthermore, past events suggest that the NFL would never be willing to admit this blunder and take the hit, opting instead to overlook the existing problem. This means that fans should get ready for a season that will raise eyebrows for all the wrong reasons.
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