The NFL has brought a new controversy upon themselves. After making several rule changes, fans are furious at the penalties being called.
This offseason, the NFL introduced a new rule where lowering your helmet to initiate any contact is a 15 yard penalty. Another rule was put into place where a player cannot use their full weight on a player they are tackling. These changes might sound reasonable, but the way they have enforced this preseason has players and fans in an uproar.
This sack by Vikings linebacker Antwione Williams in the team’s second preseason game drew a flag. This tackle by 49ers running back and special teamer Raheem Mostert received the same treatment. Both of these plays seemed to be pretty routine and textbook tackles. It now appears that the referees could call a penalty on pretty much any defensive tackle. The calls outraged fans, and even some players spoke out against the new rule. Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe and 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman both shared some harsh comments.
While most were upset with the new rule, former player and current ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi defended the rule on Twitter. He cited concerns for player safety as the reason the rule must stand, which is undoubtedly why it was implemented.
Player safety is definitely a reason for concern, and there should be precautions taken to protect players. However, the new rule is horrible. When textbook tackles are flagged, it makes no sense as to what a clean tackle looks like. Not only that, but the new rule causes more flags to be thrown, slowing down an already slow game. Something needs to change. The new helmet rule could cause fans to walk away from the game of football. The NFL needs to figure this out, and fast.