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Making Sense Of The New Helmet Rule

Posted By Jesse Agler On March 20, 2013 @ 1:03 pm In Football | 1 Comment

daniel-thomas [1]The NFL owners wrapped up their Annual Meeting today in Phoenix and before they departed the desert, they finalized a couple of rule changes for 2013 and beyond.

First, the tuck rule is dead. Gone. Hopefully forever.

But the rule change that has gotten the most attention was “Player Rule Propsal No. 6,” which states:

It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside of the tackle box. Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.

Basically stated, if a ball carrier (or, to be fair, a defender) in the open field lowers his head when contact is about to be made, he will be penalized 15 yards.

The rule states that this action will only be a foul “clearly outside of the tackle box,” which might be a little misleading to fans. As most of us know from intentional grounding penalties, the tackle box is measured side-to-side by the width of where the two tackles line up. But did you know that the tackle box extends only three yards beyond the line of scrimmage? So, theoretically, a running back trying to bulldoze his way into the endzone, between the tackles, could be called for this penalty at the one yard line if the play began at the four or five yard line.

Generally speaking, though, it seems the spirit of the rule is to call a penalty only in the open field. It will be interesting to see how it’s officiated in real life.

This is obviously another attempt by the league to bring as much safety to the game as possible and as the Competition Committee said last week, it’s an attempt to “get the shoulder back in the game.”

Not an easy one to understand, but I hope this helped.


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