WEST PALM BEACH, Fl, March 20, 2013 - The National Football League owners today passed a new rule which will prohibit ball carriers from using the crown of their helmets to make contact with a defender in the open field.
Owners voted 31-1, with only Cincinnati voting no, in favor of the rule, saying it is an important safety issue.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was a major advocate for the rule change, and reportedly planned to table the vote and continue lobbying if he failed to win owner support.
The owner’s near unanimous support came after watching videos showing both legal and illegal helmet contact by ball carriers.
Under the new rule, it is illegal for a ball carrier to lower his head and use the crown of his helmet to make contact with a defensive player. If both the offensive and defensive player lowers his helmet and makes contact, both will receive penalties.
The penalty will be 15 yards from the spot of the foul, and if both the offensive and defensive player lowers his head and uses the crown of the helmet to make contact, each will be penalized.
Critics argued the new rule strongly favors defensemen, further hurting the running game in the NFL. Already ball carriers complain that running against an increasingly strong and agile defense is extremely difficult. Never mind that Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings had 2,097 rushing yards this season, a mere 8 yards less than all-time record holder Eric Dickerson.
Pittsburg Steelers owner Art Rooney said, “Jim Brown never lowered his head. It can be done.”
Despite the strong support from owners, many football players are unhappy with the rule. Several expressed their dissatisfaction on Twitter. Following are some of the tweets critical of the rule:
Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell: NFFL #NationalFlagFootballLeague
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears running back: Wow so they really passed that rule…last time I checked football was a contact sport. Calling bank now to set up my lowering the boom fund
and added: Guess I’ll get my fine money ready #loweringtheboomfund
Fred Jackson, running back for the Buffalo Bills: I’m not Sliding!! #NewHelmetRule
Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith: Soon everyone will get a trophy for participation
Justin Forsett of the Jacksonville Jaguars: These rules are getting out of hand, I wonder when they realize they are going to have to change the name of the sport
Cleveland Browns linebacker Tank Carder: These rules are getting out of hand, I wonder when they realize they are going to have to change the name of the sport
Rashad Butler, offensive tackle, Houston Texans: Listen, American football is a violent sport. U choose to play at ur own risk. And with that u have to accept the injuries that come with it
Like it or not, however, the new rule will be in place when players take the field in 2013. Those who choose to ignore it will receive a 15 yard penalty from the spot of the foul, and possibly a fine.
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