Thursday, March 21, 2013
Update: NFL Passes Controversial Rule on Helmet Hits
biggest news to come out of the National Football League's annual owners' meetings this week in Phoenix was the decision to ban ball carriers and defenders from delivering forcible blows with the crown of their helmets in the open field — a significant step toward making the game safer.
A plan to vote on that controversial rule change earlier this week was tabled after blowback from players and coaches, and it was thought that the proposal had died — at least for this year. Hence, AB's report in this morning's edition of E-News. But in the end, a vote was finally taken, and the only team not to support the penalizing of offending players was the Cincinnati Bengals.
Already, at least one player has committed to violating the rule. "I'm just going to set aside some fine money because I know I'll probably get fined a couple of times," Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson told The Buffalo News. "It's hard for a person to change who they are when they're running the football. I like to consider myself a physical back."
Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson — whose offensive hit on Kurt Coleman of the Philadelphia Eagles (above) knocked off the safety's helmet last season and was held up in the meetings as an example of behavior the league must halt, told Cleveland.com that he feels "like I made it bad for all the backs. I feel like it's my fault. … People keep telling me it's the T-Rich rule."
It also sends a message: "It does reinforce the importance of getting out in front of this before something tragic happens,'' New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin told USA Today.
Bengals owner Mike Brown, in a meeting with reporters before Wednesday's delayed vote, offered these reasons for disagreeing with the rule change:
It's a very controversial change. I view it as a difficult, if not impossible, play to call. We had a lot of this with the secondary plays last year. I didn't think those calls were always right. These plays happen in a flash. … I'm not confident we should add another discretionary call. We're asking an awful lot of our referees to make those kind of calls. Yet it is counterbalanced by concerns for safety. We're all for safety and make it as safe as we can devise. The issue on this one is hard to measure. Just how much of an impact does it have on safety? There are no statistics in front of us as far as injuries. It makes me wonder if we have properly quantified it to make a decision on it now.