The NFL’s new helmet rule has become a lightning rod for criticism over the past few weeks but the league said Wednesday in a conference call that there will be no “substantive alterations” made to it.
According to ESPN, a statement released by Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, says the NFL’s competition committee resolved that there will be no changes to the rule as approved by clubs this spring, which includes no additional use of instant replay. But, Vincent added, “the committee also determined that inadvertent or incidental contact with the helmet and/or face mask is not a foul.”
The NFL rule book, as approved by team owners this spring, reportedly states: “It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent.” The wording reportedly does not specify the degree of contact required, and it limits the use of replay to reviewing ejections as a result of the rule.
NFL owners approved the rule in March after a presentation from its health and safety office showed that the helmet-lowering posture was a key factor in causing concussions and spine injuries in recent years. Players have reportedly been penalized under the new guidelines 51 times in 33 games this preseason, totaling an average of 1.55 times per game, as complaints about its efficacy and practicality have reached a fever pitch.