On Wednesday, NFL senior vice president of officiating Al RIveron posted a video to Twitter, hoping to educate everyone further on the league’s new helmet rule.
The NFL is trying to explain to everyone — players, coaches, fans — what the new rule is. The rule is that no longer can a player lower his head to initiate contact, and that has left many players frustrated and confused. Give the NFL credit for trying to get the message straight, including with Wednesday’s video.
The only problem with Riveron’s video is it left everyone more confused than before he posted it. And therein lies the problem with the helmet rule.
The NFL’s video on the helmet rule added to the confusion
Here’s the video Riveron posted. It’s three legal hits, and then three hits that were flagged. The clean hits are pretty obvious. The illegal hits are hard to find:
The Use of Helmet rule is designed to protect players from unnecessary risk. It's illegal to lower your head to initiate contact against an opponent. This rule applies to all players & the entire field. The 1st 3 plays are examples of the #NFLWaytoPlay and the last 3 are fouls. pic.twitter.com/HzfR196UIg
— Al Riveron (@alriveron) August 15, 2018
You need to have a very keen eye to catch that. It’s using coaching film, which is not the best angle for something that needs a close up view. There’s no narration or slow motion. Some arrows might have helped. It’s hard for the untrained eye, or even the trained eye, to see what was illegal. Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith tried clearing it up.
A lot of people were confused by this video so I checked with the league office. They told me that on the three penalties shown, the first was on the tackler, the second was on 82 of the offense and the third was on 92 of the defense https://t.co/n8EwCnILs9
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) August 15, 2018
The adjustment period for the new rule continues
Again, a big issue with the helmet rule is players seem confused by what’s legal anymore and what will draw a flag. The complaints started in the Hall of Fame game and have continued.
The NFL got rid of its confusing and frustrating catch rule, and then added another potentially confusing and frustrating rule.
It’s hard to totally rip the NFL for the helmet rule, even amid some of the doomsday opinions about it. We can’t criticize the NFL for not caring about player safety, then criticize the league for enacting a rule designed to improve player safety. It’s not the first time there has been a major rule change involving hitting or tackling. The players will figure it out and adjust.
But for the time being, there will be much angst about the helmet rule. The NFL’s officiating video on the new rule, which was designed to clear it up, showed just how far there is to go.
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