NFL Rule Changes: owners wait on vote to eliminate RBs use of helmet in open field

This is probably more an example of leading with his shoulder, which the NFL wants to bring back, according to Rams coach Jeff Fisher, although a penalty could be thrown next season if a rule change is made. - Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Owners mulling rule changes, including one in which a 15-yard spot foul would occur if a running back "obviously" uses the crown of his helmet to strike an incoming defender.

It seems only fair to enforce safety on both sides of the ball.

The NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell have taken plenty of heat in this space over the blatantly contradictory policy of enforcing penalties, fines and suspensions on defensive players striking (defenseless) offensive players in the head while allowing running backs to lower their respective helmet boom on defenders in a far more intentional manner.

Not to support or decry either side, but if you're going to call it, call it both ways.

Not coincidentally, that officiating mantra is the reason the owners tabled a vote to penalize open field runners who lower their helmet to strike oncoming defenders. A vote is expected Thursday.

They aren't sure how, exactly, it will be penalized. According to ESPN, it would be a 15-yard penalty.

John Harbaugh, the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, appears to be against it (the owners on proposals brought forward from the Competition Committee, on which Harbaugh sits).

"In all fairness, it's going to be tough on the officials, it's going to be tough to make that determination at live speed with one look," he said. It seems fair to then ask how they're expected to see defenseless receivers being hit in the same manner. At least running backs have the ball in their hands, and no one is watching anything else if the ball carrier is in the open field.

Based on the comments coming from the competition committee, it seems their aim isn't to penalize a ball carrier who tucks the ball with both arms and "gets small," meaning, he brings his shoulders down over the ball in an effort to protect it. According to ESPN, the committee saw five instances in one week of games last season in which they agreed a flag should have been thrown.

It would be a spot foul, meaning it would come from where the infraction occurred, and they only want it to be called on "obvious" plays.

While it's interesting, and a step in the right direction if the owners wish to rebuild the integrity they lost when they decided to attempt to sell the public on the idea defenders are the only ones making the game unsafe.


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