On Sundays during fall and winter, everyone’s favorite thing to do is open a bag of chips, sit in their comfiest recliner and turn on some NFL football. In recent years though, the game of football has had decreasing popularity. This is due to all the controversy that this game has had in the last few seasons, from players holding out for not getting enough money to players kneeling for the National Anthem. This season, a new problem has arose for fans and players that will leave many people shaking their heads.
This problem is the new rule deemed “The Helmet Rule”. This states that no player is allowed to lower their head to make contact with an opponent on any part of their opponent’s body. It is an automatic 15 yard penalty and if committed by a defensive player, it will result in an automatic first down.
This rule does not sound so bad. The NFL has taken so much heat about retired players suffering from brain trauma and CTE because of the concussions these ex players received on the field. It only makes sense that the league is trying to make the game safer for their players.
The problem with this rule is that it is very unclear with what leading with your helmet means and we have seen somewhat questionable calls during the preseason. Just like “The Catch Rule”, it seems there is no clear cut definition for this rule and it is left for the referee’s judgement to call the foul which leads to inconsistency around the league.
Teams and fans are worried that one of these bad calls can blow a game, just like we have seen “The Catch Rule” do. Not only that, but these players in the NFL have been programmed their whole life to put their head down and power through. Yes, it is not the safest advice but when they have been doing this since they were a young age, it will be hard to change right away.
Although this rule seems confusing and a little harsh on the players who have already made it to the pros, it is completely necessary. These players might grumble about it at the moment, but in 20 years when everything works in their brain, they won’t be complaining.
This rule might let parents feel more comfortable letting their children play Pop Warner or high school football without the fear that their kids will have a serious head injury. Then in a few years, the men who get drafted, will already know not to lower their head.
The NFL has gotten so much backlash about brain injuries (and rightfully so) that they did the honorable thing to make the league safer. There will be condemnation about this rule this season but it needs to be tested so that the rule itself can develop into an unambiguous definition. Many critics will disapprove of the new rule this season, but the NFL was truly moral when they added in “The Helmet Rule”.