Despite criticism from several players and coaches about the new rules limiting the use of the helmet in games, the NFL will not make any adjustments to the guidelines adopted in March. But an important clarification was made that may mean some collisions won’t be subject to penalty.
NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent, a former All-Pro cornerback, said Wednesday that the competition committee spoke by telephone and opted to keep the rules in place. Under the recently revised policy, no player can initiate contact with his helmet, or he will be assessed a personal foul penalty. The rule was adopted as a way to reduce the frequency of helmet to helmet hits.
“The committee reviewed feedback to date from players, coaches and game officials,” Vincent said in a statement. “The committee resolved that there will be no changes to the rule as approved by the club this spring, which includes no additional use of instant replay.”
Suggestions have been made in recent days to make the helmet rule penalty subject to replay review.
Vincent said, however, that “inadvertent or incidental contact with the helmet and/or facemask is not a foul.”
Some players and coaches have complained that penalties were called in situations where it was impossible for a player to prevent his helmet from being involved in a collision due to the speed of the game.
“As all adjust to the new rule," Vincent said, "we will continue to provide video feedback and examples of fouls and incorrect calls to coaches, players and officials over the next two weeks and throughout the season as this new rule is implemented."