Perhaps the biggest news to come out of this week's NFL owners meetings was the nearly unanimous decision to make it illegal for a runner or tackler to lead with the crown of his helmet. Rams coach and competition committee member Jeff Fisher pointed to Browns running back Trent Richardson destroying Eagles safety Kurt Colemanback in Week 1 of the 2012 season as an example of how not to do things, and going forward such a play will incur a 15-yard penalty from the spot of the infraction.
On Wednesday, Richardson, the Browns' 2012 first-round pick, said he felt responsible for the proposal becoming a rule.
"I feel like I made it bad for all the backs," he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot. "I feel like it's my fault. … People keep telling me it's the T-Rich rule. I guess I made history today."
And like almost every other running back -- both current and former -- Richardson questions the rule's efficacy.
"I know why they did it, but I won't say that I fully agree with it," he said. "I'm not saying it's a dumb rule, but the backs are all talking about it and it's kind of hard on us."
If nothing else, Richardson gets points for diplomacy, something his backfield brothers didn't have time for. The latest to join the chorus: former Steeler Jerome Bettis.
“It really makes no sense,” Bettis said Thursday on Mike and Mike in the Morning, via PFT. “The running back now is going to have some indecision with his helmet and his head. ...Whenever a running back has indecision, there's potential for injury.”
And that's the biggest issue: The NFL's intentions are good -- it wants to make the game as safe as possible -- but the execution might leave something to to be desired, especially if the unintended consequences result in an uptick in injuries. Then there's the enforcement issue; The play will be a judment call and not reviewable, which troubled Bengals owner Mike Brown enough to vote against the rule.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin voiced similar concerns.
"I think it's obvious that we all want those types of plays out of the game," he said via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "In spirit, they are obviously great rules that are intended for the good of the game, but officiating it is another thing."
"I think that's what we are trying to avoid, the gray [area]," Tomlin continued. "I think that we are talking about -- the obvious foul. I think that is a word that has been used here quite a bit in regards to it -- obvious. So we are trying to look for black and white as opposed to gray in regards to that."
However this plays out, Richardson isn't changing.
"I don't know how they're going call it, but (laughing) most likely I'm going to be the one getting all the fines and all the penalties because I just know I just can't change the way I play the game," Richardson said.
"I'll still play me," he continued. "I'll still play the way I play. ... I'm going to try to be as safe as I can, but I'm going to protect myself first. I know there are a lot of runners that feel the way I feel."