A lot of NFL players are displeased with the change in the helmet-to-helmet rule, as according to them, the stricter rule will make it even harder for them to effectively play the game.
According to Brian McCarthy, the spokesman of NFL, “It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent. The player may be disqualified. Applies to any player anywhere on the field.”
The rule states that all NFL players are required to live by the rule. However, defensive players think that they are the ones who will suffer more from it. Furthermore, they are worried that they would fail in altering their approaches and that officials would find it difficult to enforce the rule consistently.
“I don’t know how you’re going to play the game,” Cornerback Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins said. “If your helmet comes in contact? How are you going to avoid that if you’re in the trenches and hit a running back, facemask to facemask and accidentally graze the helmet? It’s obviously going to happen. So, I don’t know even what that definition looks like.”
Cornerback Richard Sherman of the San Francisco 49ers also shared, “It’s ridiculous. Like telling a driver if you touch the lane lines, you’re getting a ticket. (It’s) gonna lead to more lower-extremity injuries.”
Lorenzo Alexander, linebacker of the Buffalo Bills and a 12-year veteran, also agreed to what Sherman’s statement. Alexander said, “In our mind, it makes it hard to play defense in this league. In my mind, there needs to be more of a common-sense approach to it. … It is football at the end of the day. There are going to be injuries that you can’t avoid. You can’t legislate everything out.”
According to Josh Norman, even if players devote some practice time to refining techniques, it is still unlikely that they will be able to change their approaches in tackling.
“It’s not going to do anything. I don’t know any other way to play,” Norman said. “I understand trying to be safer, I get it. We saw what happened to (Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker) Ryan Shazier, and I get it and understand that, but at the same time, it’s football. I don’t know what other way to say it but it’s football. … I pray for the game and hope it’ll still be what it is, but it seems in our day and age, the game as we know it is coming to an end. But really, we’re all playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”