The NFL has been trying to reduce head injuries and concussions in the league, as it seeks a sustainable safe sport for players to participate in. However, following changes to the helmet-hit rule, it has experienced a backlash from players who appear “confused” by the new regulations.
“They’ll see how ridiculous it is, once they make the refs call it,” 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said.
“It’s going to be worse than holding, worse than the catch rule.
“On a good form tackle, guys will lead with their shoulder pads, but you bring your head.
“It’s going to be a disaster.”
In trying to reduce head injuries the NFL previously made above-the-shoulder hits a personal-foul penalty. The new rule also adds the possibility of a player being ejected from the game.
There are few players who would not agree with making the game safer, however, the implementation of these new rules has created confusion among players and fans alike.
Eagles players were left ”frustrated” after meeting with NFL referees to get some clarity on the rules.
“We were trying to ask questions to get a better understanding, and yet they couldn’t really give us an answer,” Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham said.
“They couldn’t give us what we were looking for.”
Speaking about the meeting with referees, Eagles running back, Wendell Smallwood said: “Most of the defence was like, ‘Man, how are we supposed to tackle?’ They were frustrated.”
The new rule change has also had an impact on players contracts.
The Chicago Bears have yet to get their first round pick linebacker Roquan Smith under contract and “part of the issue” surrounds the new helmet-hit rule.
Roquan Smith and the Bears have yet to agree financial protections in the proposed contract should the linebacker be suspended if such a hit occurred.
“For both sides, it’s more of a language deal, a language-type deal,” said Bears coach Matt Nagy.
Being a linebacker, Smith is expected to make many more tackles and as a result be more susceptible to violating the new rule than some other positions.
The unintended consequences of the new rule could also lead to injuries warns Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger.
“They want us to, I guess, hit with our shoulder,” he said to ESPN
“I guess not hit a guy when he ducks. So I guess we just gotta aim for the knees. That’s the only way I know how.
“If you don’t want me to hit you, then I guess it’s the only way, the only way.”
Four years ago, Swearinger was involved in a controversial – but legal – low hit during a preseason game against the New York Jets.
Jets tight end Dustin Keller suffered a serious knee injury from the tackle, which ultimately ended his career.