NFL's new targeting rule draws criticism.
The NFL has announced a number of rule changes this off-season, including a stricter helmet-hit rule that will penalize players who lead with the crown of their helmets to initiate contact against an opponent on any play.
According to USA Today Sports, an NFL spokesman laid out the rule as such, “It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent. The player may be disqualified. Applies to any player anywhere on the field.” Such a hit would warrant a 15-yard penalty and the offender could be ejected from the game depending on the severity of the hit.
Obviously, this had some NFL defenders scratching their heads. Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman questioned how players are supposed to tackle anymore.
“I don’t know how you’re going to play the game,” Norman said via USA Today. “If your helmet comes in contact? How are you going to avoid that if you’re in the trenches and hit a running back, facemask to facemask and accidentally graze the helmet? It’s obviously going to happen. So, I don’t know even what that definition looks like.”
San Francisco 49ers corner Richard Sherman called the new targeting rule "ridiculous."
“It’s ridiculous," he wrote in a text message to USA Today. "Like telling a driver if you touch the lane lines, you’re getting a ticket. (It’s) gonna lead to more lower-extremity injuries.”
Others, such as Buffalo Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, also expressed concern over the rule.
“It continues to put us in a predicament,” he said in a phone interview with USA Today Sports. “In our mind, it makes it hard to play defense in this league. In my mind, there needs to be more of a common-sense approach to it. … It is football at the end of the day. There are going to be injuries that you can’t avoid. You can’t legislate everything out."