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Giants running backs past and present bemoan new helmet rule

David Wilson returns a punt for a first-quarter

David Wilson returns a punt for a first-quarter touchdown during a game against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. (Dec. 9, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

The new rule aimed at preventing NFL ballcarriers from initiating contact with the crown of their helmet outside the tackle box is not popular with Giants running backs past or present.

David Wilson, last year’s first-round pick and this year’s projected starter, said today that he doesn’t like it.

“But the rules are the rules,” he said. “It’s the game I like and they keep modifying it, but I’ll adjust to it, I guess. You’re a runner. You run with a lean and, any time you run, your head is the first thing to get there, even in track, if you watch a track meet. Saying you can’t lead with your head or chest, it’s tough. We don’t want to get fined, so we definitely have to change how we run.”

Yesterday Wilson’s predecessor with the Giants, Ahmad Bradshaw, was on ESPN Radio in New York bemoaning the rule as well.

Part of Bradshaw’s angst was over how the rule will be called in games, a concern voiced by many coaches during discussions at the league meetings in Arizona this week.

“I think it’s going to be hard to decipher if they use the top of the head or the hairline,” Bradshaw said (hits initiated with the facemask or hairline of the helmet, by the way, will remain legal). “That’s just part of the game … I don’t think you can judge the way of how you hit somebody when your head’s down. If you have an opponent coming at you the same way, I don’t get how they expect you to protect yourself. That’s the part that’s getting me…You’re running somebody over, your head’s still down, you know, as you’re going forward. I don’t get the point.”

Bradshaw went even further, saying that he thinks this new rule could lead to more injuries, not prevent them.

“I guess they want us to run upright, but that’s not what we learned when we were little kids,” he said. “That’s not what football is. They always teach you to be low. Football’s a low game. The lowest man wins. And they expect us to run upright like Emmitt (Smith) says. They expect us to give ourselves up as we’re running the ball.”

Among the other injuries Bradshaw said could occur if running backs are not allowed to, in essence, duck?

“Just broken ribs and anything else, get punched in your heart,” he said. “You just never know what can happen, just getting your ribs up and someone just blasting you in your chest.”

- With Kimberley A. Martin

(Yes, it took three of us to write this!)

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