The NFL is all about improving player safety on the field, and while that is a legitimate concern, their efforts have altered the game of football tremendously. That continued on Wednesday as the owners voted 31-1 in favor of creating a "crown of the helmet" rule that will penalize offensive players for ducking their head outside of the tackle box (see: in the open field). In other words, it eliminates the ability for an athlete to not only do what they've been taught since day one, but to react naturally when preparing to engage a defender.
The only team who didn't vote in favor of the new "crown of the helmet" rule was the Cincinnati Bengals.
The addition of this new "crown of the helmet" rule will not only cause players to attempt to control their natural instincts, it will become a nightmare for officials on the field – something owners have both publicly and privately admitted. It puts the referees in a position to interpret what they see outside of the tackle box and make a call based on that alone. All penalties for this new rule will be non-reviewable.
“Jim Brown never used his helmet in the open field, so it can be done," Art Rooney III said.
Owners did consider just making this rule violation finable, but instead opted for a 15-yard penalty. So rather than a touchdown, the following run by Ahmad Bradshaw could now, technically, be considered illegal because he is clear of the line of scrimmage and not "protecting himself" or the ball.
"Get your daughters ready because they'll be playing football soon!" former Giants RB Brandon Jacobs tweeted after hearing of the new rule. "Our head are connected to our shoulders. There's no such thing, you can't drop your shoulders without our heads."
In addition to that new rule, the league properly voted to eliminate the tuck rule. And perhaps not so surprisingly, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft abstained on the vote (so did the Washington Redskins). Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers were the only team that voted in favor of keeping the rule.
The elimination of the tuck rule makes it so a player loses possession when he tries to bring the ball back to his body. If the passer loses control while the ball is going forward, it's still incomplete. If he loses the ball while tucking, it's a fumble.
Perhaps less notable, the NFL passed several other changes as well, including the Jim Schwartz challenge flag rule and jersey rule for tight ends (they will not be able to wear numbers in the 40's).
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