Wednesday the NFL Owners passed a rule outlawing crown-of-the-helmet hits outside of the tackle box for both offensive and defensive players. Judging by the outcry from football fans, media members and even players, you would have thought they approved no beer sales at stadiums. The main problem everyone has is in regards to running backs not being able to “RUN HARD” as one person tweeted me. I want everyone to relax, and here’s why.
The rule as I interpret it in regards to running backs applies when a running back lowers his head and hits the defender with the top of his helmet in the open field. It will NOT apply to a running back trying to punch it in from the 1 yard line coming in as a missile. Whewww, missile dodged. I coached RB’s (I am tired of typing “running back”) in High School, and at no point did I think about teaching them to have their heads down while running the ball. When your head is down you can’t see where you are going. When your head is down you have a tendency to start leaning forward, thus losing your balance. When your head is down it is dangerous as we all know. This notion that you can only “run tough” while your head is down just isn’t true. If a RB wants to add strength behind their carries there are things they can do. Keep the legs moving and the shoulder pads low and square. When a RB is in the open field, the best thing you can do is to make sure you have the ball in the proper hand, so you can stiff-arm and keep defenders off of you so contact isn’t even an issue. If you have/want to initiate contact, you use your shoulder pads. Let’s make sure we don’t mistake the front of the helmet/top of face-mask area for the crown of the helmet. Not the same thing. Keeping your head up while smacking helmets with a defender doesn’t look the same as a RB who looks like he either has osteoporosis or is looking for a contact lens as he runs in to a would-be tackler.
Do we really think Marshawn’s best weapon is the top of his helmet? Is he nothing without that? Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears must think that is HIS best weapon judging by his whiney tweets. “Guess I’ll get my fine money ready” is one of them. “Next year they’ll probably be a no jumping over defenders rule…” is another. Sounds like the fundamentals of running the football aren’t exactly his FORTE. Maybe that explains why he has never had more than 3 100-yard games in a season?
When an ex-player commits suicide by shooting themselves in the chest so their head can be examined to determine the source of their condition, in which direction does the finger pointing head? It’s easy for the fan in all of us to scream about how the players will be wearing flags instead of pads in 5 years. Junior Seau’s mom screaming “TAKE ME, NOT MY JUNIOR” takes a little wind out of that sail and makes you understand a little more from that perspective. Don’t think for a second that I am FOR this rule or the rule that Kam Chancellor broke last year when he lit up Vernon Davis at Qwest field. My feeling is that it is the nature of the sport and these players are more than fairly compensated for willingly participating. But I understand the League has to “do something”, and for all of the outrage, finger-pointing, and lawsuits that the NFL has to endure, this new rule is a very small price to pay. So rest easy Seahawks fans, and fans of the NFL. When the season starts, this rule will be about as impactful as a 6-pack of Tequiza at a tailgate party.