NFL referees met with Philadelphia Eagles players recently to discuss the new helmet rule, but many are saying they left the meeting with more questions than they had coming in.
“We were trying to ask questions to get a better understanding, and yet they couldn’t really give us an answer,” said linebacker Nigel Bradham via ESPN. “”They couldn’t give us what we were looking for.”
During the presentation, which reportedly lasted close to an hour, players were shown video hits that are now considered illegal hits, some of which appeared to them as routine tackles. Bradham said the players then showed presenters a clip of Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins hit on New England Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks during Super Bowl LII, that knocked Cooks out of the game. The refs, however, could not say definitively whether the hit would be considered illegal under the new rule.
“I’m going to make that play 10 times out of 10. If it’s a flag, it’s a flag,” Jenkins said. “You can’t slow yourself down thinking about rules in a split second. The game happens really, really fast, faster than the rules, I think, take account for, but I won’t let it affect the way I play.”
The new rule, which was instituted this offseason, is essentially equivalent to college football’s targeting rule. And the rule applies not only to tacklers, but to lineman and ball carriers as well.