New Helmet Rule just feels wrong

On one hand, defensive players have possessed the short straw for quite some time when it comes to the NFL's continued effort to introduce rules that better protect players from their peers. And thus it's nice to see things creep closer toward being balanced with a new rule that will penalize ball carriers for lowering their heads into defensive players. 

But on the other hand, this is a change that seems to dramatically contradict the way running backs and other offensive players are taught to play the game. Has the league finally gone too far? 

As Emmitt Smith told me earlier this week, this rule change "is totally against what people are teaching players." It caused Smith to wonder if the people behind these proposals have ever played football. 

I've played football. Not in the NFL, but I've played. And I've learned a lot about the game over the years. With that experience and knowledge, I can buy the idea that a defensive player shouldn't be allowed to use his helmet to hit a defenseless player from the opposing team. It changes the game a bit and it's tough on defenses, but in order for the game to evolve it has to suck it up when it comes to sacrificing the freedoms of defensive players. 

But are we really going to start telling 12-year-old running backs that they're supposed to duck out of bounds rather that drive forward when they're a yard short of the first down? The alternative might not necessarily result in a penalty, but if the odds are greatly increased, that'll happen naturally.

It's also possible the ball carriers themselves will become more vulnerable to injury by exposing themselves in those fight-or-flight moments. They won't want to shy away out of bounds and they'll also fear getting too low. It's unnatural and guaranteed to be controversial.

And it truly could change the game. Do we really want to add more judgment calls for the Bogers and Colemans and Winters and Triplettes of the officiating world to deal with?

Let's hope this is a one-year mistake that will be fixed next offseason. 

Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at, Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.