Much Still to be Determined About NFL Helmet-Lowering Rule
Exact language of the rule is up in the air, making it difficult understand full impact.
The NFL spring meetings kick off on May 21 and the hope is that there will be some resolution about how the league’s new lowering-the-helmet rule will be handled by that time.
As Peter King points out for Sports Illustrated, that could be easier said than done.
The first major area where the league needs to develop clarity about the rule is how it will actually be officiated on the field. The exact language of the rule is still in doubt, which makes it difficult to know exactly how officials will call it.
Consistency, especially at the beginning, is going to be a problem. “I think it’s going to be impossible to officiate,” said former head of NFL officials Mike Pereira. “You’ll see the same thing happening with this as we’ve seen with the crown of the helmet rule; very few calls. I think most of it will be taken care of after the fact, with potential fines.”
The league also needs to determine how replays of helmet violations will be handled and if referees on the field will be looking at them or if the officiating command center in New York will have that responsibility.
Coaches will also need clarity about the situation so they know how to best instruct their players to help them avoid penalties and possible ejections.
“It’s now going to be a penalty for an NFL player to lower his head to initiate helmet-to-opponent contact, and the devil will be in the details on this one,” King writes. “The NFL has seven weeks to write the rule the right way.”
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