Friday, August 26, 2011

Do the new NFL rules go far enough for player protection?

Everyone is all over the football thing.  Including me, not gonna lie.  With the late CBA and the threat of shortened or NO season *gasp*, it was on everyone's mind fo' sho. 

And with this anticipation of would we or wouldn't we have a season, was also the anticipation of the NEW rules.  Most of the focus I've found has been on the kickoff ball placement thing... that it's at the 35 and not the 30, and that players can't line up more than 5 yards behind the ball, this being to limit the "run up" the players can get, thereby decreasing the chance of serious injury.

My thoughts on this one.  Kinda lame.
I mean, the moving the ball in my opinion just will produce more touch backs.  This gets done what, I guess, they wanted to be done, because you will have less running and therefore hitting.

But the "not more than 5 yards behind the ball bit"?  Uh, that is reaching, in my opinion.  It seems that would only be a factor when the kick was short.  How often is the kickoff going to be short?  Why would that (outside of on-sides kick) be a strategy?  And if a player is going to haul ass down a football field and level someone, he's going to make it happen.  That's all I'm saying.

The new rules *I* and most intrigued with are the ones that surround player safety and those that are designed to limit head injuries.
These are going to be so hard to regulate.  So much is so objective, so much pressure is on the ref.  I think it's all with a good intention though, and one that is very needed.
The main points that I find interesting are:
  • "...expanded rules to prevent 'defenseless' players from taking shots above their shoulders." 
  • "...reworded rules prohibit a player from launching himself off the ground and using his helmet to strike a player in the defenseless posture in the head or neck."
  • "...when a player loses his helmet, the play is immediately whistled dead."
  • "...during field goal and extra point attempts, the defense cannot position any player on the line directly across from the snapper, who's considered to be in a defenseless position."
  • Also, the inception of a standardized sideline concussion assessment protocol.  
OK, so I'm glad that the NFL is taking a step to protect "defenseless" players.  My question, aren't ALL players defenseless at one time or another in any given game?  How hard is THIS going to be to monitor?  They have a finite description of what a defenseless player is, but still, while it's a good step, it's a toughie.

No launching of oneself to strike a defenseless player in the head or neck?  Their momma's should have taught them that.

Losing your helmet = dead play.  YES!  Thank You!  Had this not been included, I would have thought for sure they weren't taking ANY of this seriously.  I mean really, you are going to allow play to go on when someone lost their helmet but claim you want to decrease head injuries?  I didn't think so.

The snapper is "defenseless" and the league recognizes this?  Long snappers everywhere are jumping up and down and belly bumpin'!  I've seen many long snappers get injured because they got run over on a snap.  They are vulnerable, and they should be protected.  I bet you see the number of made FGs and EPs go up too!  Just sayin'. 

Now my fave, the standardized sideline concussion assessment protocol.  FINALLY!!!  As an ATC at the high school level for many years, I know how valuable this can be!  And, working with some pro athletes in other sports, I can see how political the entire process can be.  And it's hard.  I mean the pro athletes I work with have the opportunity to win, like, $2500 or maybe $5000.  But NFL players have way more on the line than that.  I think a standardized protocol is a very important thing to implement.  Also, when a player has received a concussion, they have to be seen by an independent neurologist.  Again, brilliant, due to the political nature of the sport as noted above.  Sometimes the people you are supposed to trust, you just can't.  Bummer.

But - this is *my* sticking point.  If you really, seriously want to reduce head injury and concussion?


It's not that hard, people.  I did it all the time, games, practices, all the time.  It takes 2 seconds and a little pump pump of air in, Boom, you're done.

I can't even tell you how it makes my skin crawl when I see an ill-fitting helmet.  A helmet not correctly fitted can cause undue neck strain and/or injury, injuries to the face from it slipping down on, and a WORSE concussion that they would have had in the first place.

Why?  Because of the second impact forces that cause the head, and consequently the brain, to rattle around in the helmet during impact.  Those suckers are called helmets, not bonnets.  They are not to hold your hair our of your face.  They are not meant to feel like a ball cap.  They are mean to be tight.  Wear them that way, for crying out loud!

I'm talking to YOU, Mr. NFL Player!!

And?  If the helmets were properly fitted, then you wouldn't need the "play whistled dead when the helmet pops off rule".

Check out this and this.  I really had a hard time finding the info I wanted, so if anyone can point me to the official rules, not just the digest, from the source, that would be rad!


  1. I agree with you 100% on the better fitting helmets. I don't GET that!!! And furthermore if the helmets DID fit correctly how on EARTH do the players wear those big ass diamonds in their ears?!?! There's NO way that's comfortable in a properly fitting helmet. I remember in the past trying to put on people's helmets not even meant for my head and it tore at my earrings... If it's tight enough to protect there is no room for bling.

    I don't know about the whole kick off thing - seems really strange to me. Then again all of this while proper for protecting the athletes still makes me feel like it's all going a bit soft. Defenseless fine, I get it but this is football... not FLAG FOOTBALL. I want people to be safe but we can't take all the BAM out of the game.

    I just sort of hate seeing my favorite players start to look like they are lost in the game because they have to rethink their whole way of hitting someone, but at the same time I don't want to see anyone hurt so bottom line is it's a good thing that the rules are being changed up to protect players - I just don't have to be 100% happy about it.

    [Yes I'm the same person that likes to see Nascar wrecks so long as they don't involve serious injury or death - so in my NFL I like to see some big hits... just without serious injury or death].

  2. Let me start my comment with--I start floating off the ground when I see my son launch himself off the ground and take a running back out.

    That is part of being mom to a Linebacker.

    Let me finish this with saying you should come check all of Jason's gear. I mean we have, and coaching staff does, but one more set of eyes making sure his gear was on safely makes this mom really happy when she sees her son launching through the air like Superman, sans tights.

  3. i didn't know that much was changing. everyone just keeps talking about the kick offs. i sincerely hope the number of injuries goes down. no one wants scrambled eggs for brains at the age of 35

  4. I totally don't know how refs are supposed to enforce some of those rules.

  5. @Kelly - I know, it does "soften" the sport some. I feel the same way. And personally, I feel like some of the things that can be done to protect other players are fundamentals. Hitting with the numbers, wrapping up, etc, these are all based on keeping the head and neck out of it. BUT does the NFL have time to RE-teach fundamentals? Prob not. So, we are left with more rules... *sigh*

    @Wife - no sweat, any time.

    @Michelle - I agree, no scrambled brains please. And unfortunately, that's what happening. :(

    @KLZ - me neither!

  6. I'm so glad to see this. You would think with all these rules and regulations, they would do the simplest of things, which is make sure the helmet fits right! UGH.