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Better Keep Your Head Up – NFL’s New Helmet Rule

Steve Shoup

Out of the blue, the league prohibited the insecure technique of players lowering their heads, effectively using their helmets as armory while snatching.

That was done with the only idea of safety. And it’s not only about helmet rule. They already have it. And in no way, it’s the main rule. It’s for a college game, but not an NFL rule.

This substitutes the rule that forbids players to use the crown of the helmet. The technique becomes too dangerous and according to NFL injury statistics, nearly 50 % of brain concussions happened because of the helmet-to-helmet collisions.

Somehow it seems like this rule appeared from nowhere when compared to the usual gossip that surrounds important rules changes in the NFL.

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We all know the precedent when Shazier was injured, and of course, it endangers his career after it was at first supposed that he might not move and walk again. This case is an important issue for all who are still not aware of the dangers of lowering the head on a tackle.

Hopefully, this new rule will cut short injuries and moreover these changes will lead to more attentive behavior towards traumas. The NFL relies on hopes it also will catch up with youth football, where children learn to tackle with their heads up.

However, as rumour circulated a week before that a new restriction was being passed – it was not mentioned earlier when the competition committee represented suggestions such as the new catch rule – it was like the league that made so much effort into the head injuries had to show another example of being helpful in the safety issue.

NFL Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay acknowledged there’s still much to be improved. For example, the new rule doesn’t inform us about the 15-yard penalty in details and what may lead to disqualifying. So at least, for one thing, the verdict on the field can’t be confirmed or subverted by immediate replay. Truth be told, some players, who usually consult the league during meetings as well as the players union while in the process of approving rules changes, seem embarrassed and puzzled.

Richard Sherman, in a text to USA TODAY’s Mike Jones, seemed like he was addressing a targeting rule when slamming the rule as “ridiculous.”

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In general, NFL has changed 49 rules since 2002, all the changes were introduced to protect players and improve tactics. The NFL engages 29 medical experts on the sidelines for each game. Working with the NFL Players Association, the league strengthens a concussion regulation for players that have been instrumental in instantly determining and diagnosing concussions as well as other brain injuries.

Yes, there’s some work to be done. With the rule, the techniques, and the communication.

But it’s on the books now, a rule with a fast start.



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