Watering Down the NFL Even More

The NFL is back at it, proposing a ton of new rule changes at the owners meetings down in Arizona. For a full list of what rules are being proposed for either change or elimination, click here, it’s a great article that will inform you on what the NFL wants to do!

There is one rule in particular that the NFL wants to change that is alarming, and is making current and hall of fame running backs alike angry. The NFL wants to eliminate running backs from lowering their heads and hitting an oncoming tackler. While the league won’t completely rid the game of these hits, it is more focused on running backs using the crown, or top, of their helmet to hit a defender.

Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson is using this hit delivered on Eagles safety Kurt Coleman as the poster image of what the league wants out of the game.

standard of what rule is based off of

After the game, Coleman was asked about the hit, in which he responded ” I didn’t have a concussion. My head was fine…I was fine. It got a little bloody. It’s a mans game and I love it.”

That is exactly what the NFL is, a man’s game! Obviously, I don’t mean to say that football is all about appealing to the male demographic, but the game is played by men, played by some of the biggest, physically fit men in the world. These guys have a mindset they grew up with since playing pee wee football, and that is to play hard, play through pain and never give up. Now, the league is asking for more changes, and players who have spent their entire life crafting their game have to do so again.

The Richardson hit above received no penalty, fine or suspension. Under the new NFL proposal, Richardson would have been penalized 15 yards and fined for the hit. Penalties will be enforced if the running back is more than 3 yards up the field. But yes, a running back trying to avoid being destroyed by a hit should be mindful of 3 yards. The game is moving so fast, how can a back know exactly every single time when its legal or not to lower his head? NFL owners just sit in their boxes, with all their money and make changes and have never played a moment of football in their lives. They don’t know the speed of the game.

Current NFL players and ex players have chimed in on this new proposal.

Matt Forte expressed his displeasure on his Twitter account:


Emmitt Smith, easily one of the greatest running backs of all time, went on a Dallas radio show last week and let his anger be known.

“If I’m a running back and I’m running into a linebacker, you’re telling me I have to keep my head up so he can knock my chin off? You’ve absolutely lost your mind.”

I agree, Roger Goodell, you have lost your mind. Look, Goodell has done some great things for this game, and I understand the importance of player safety. With everyone in Americawhining and getting upset at the smallest things now a days, it’s no wonder Goodell wants to make changes before a horrific injury, or even worse, a death occurs during one of his games. Still, Goodell has changed the game so much already, it’s even so different from the league I grew up watching from 1996-2008. Moving up the kickoff 5 yards to reduce kick returns was absolutely atrocious, and this rule seems no better.

Some other views on the change:

Marshall Faulk (another hall of famer) sees the NFL moving out of the players control and into the hands of the referees. The refs have more power than ever to change a game. Faulk’s message was a powerful one and got his view out clear…if the league views the helmet as a weapon, then take it off!

South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, a first round hopeful who is recovering from his second major knee injury, was asked by Mike Golic on Mike and Mike in the Morning how he feels about the rule changes. Marcus took the high road, saying it would be tough, but all you can do is adjust and play within the leagues rules.

Mike Golic continued by making a great point, saying that the referees will make a lot of calls that wouldn’t warrant a penalty. He explained that the game goes so fast, that if a referee sees a violent helmet to helmet hit, he will most likely throw a flag, even if the hit was later deemed legal. Again, as Faulk said, this is putting the game into the referees hands.

Jeff Fisher, head coach of the St. Louis Rams and NFL Competition Committee member defended the rule change.

” We’ve done a lot of work in this area and watched a lot of tape, and when the crown comes down, it’s a problem. We want to bring the shoulder back into the game”

There are varying opinions around the NFL, but the consensus is that this new rule is here to stay. Running backs, of course, will despise this rule change while many of the old owners and coaches will applaud it. I am all for player safety, but these players know what they sign up for, and get paid a lot of money. They are taking the risk for the reward. The NFL is already changing significantly, with barely any kickoff returns, cornerbacks barely able to touch a receiver and defenders having to watch how they hit a quarterback. This rule change will only weaken the sport in my opinion, as many fans view the Trent Richardson hit on Coleman as one of the most exciting plays of last year. Pretty soon, the league will be playing with flags strapped to the players pants.

Another example:


Ravens safety Bernard Pollard delivered a nasty hit to Patriots running back Stevan Ridley (right: Patriot player on ground). Ridley got knocked out after he lowered his head and collided with Pollard, fumbling the ball. It was one of the more memorable plays during the playoffs, however.

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