Marshall Faulk echoes other RBs on rules proposal: 'This is a joke'

If the proposal were to pass, Richardson would face a 15-yard penalty for leading with his helmet. (USATSI)
If the proposal were to pass, Trent Richardson would face a 15-yard penalty for leading with his helmet. (USATSI)
We can add another Hall of Fame running back to the list of those unimpressed with a new rules proposal that would make it illegal for the runner (or would-be tackler) to initiate contact with the crown of the helmet.

“This is a joke,” Marshall Faulk said on NFL Network, via “If you’re a ball carrier and you’re trying to protect yourself, you’re going to duck. … I understand they want safety, and I’m all for safety within the game. But it can’t just be some old guys in the room who didn’t carry a football making rules that are really going to affect how this game is being played. I just don’t understand.”

These sentiments echo those voiced by Emmitt Smith last week.

“If I'm a running back and I'm running into a linebacker, you're telling me I have to keep my head up so he can take my chin off?'' Smith said during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan radio in Dallas. “You've absolutely lost your mind.

“As a running back, it's almost impossible [to not lower your head],'' Smith continued. “The first thing you do is get behind your shoulder pads. That means you're leaning forward, and the first part of contact that's going to take place is your head, regardless.

“I disagree with the rule altogether. It doesn't make any sense for that position. It sounds like it's been made up by people who have never played the game of football."

Bears running back Matt Forte called the proposal "the most absurd suggestion of a rule change I've ever heard of," while Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, who also happens to hold the single-season rushing record and knows something about meting out punishment, told's Mike Freeman that he lowered his head "to protect myself."

Dickerson continued: "Sometimes I did it to deliver punishment. It's a violent game. I think it's a bad rule, mostly because it's a natural reaction. You'll never be able to police it. Running backs have to be able to protect themselves, and doing that is protecting yourself."

And that's the rub: The rules committee wants to make the game safer, but the proposal could have the unintended consequence of doing just the opposite. Runners lower their heads as a means of protecting themselves. But the alternative to leading with the crown of the helmet isn't running upright and, in the words of Smith, letting a linebacker "take his chin off."

In theory, anyway.

Jeff Fisher, Rams coach and competition committee member, on Monday said, “We want to bring the shoulder back to the game. As we all know, the helmet is a protective device. It’s not designed to be used like it’s being used as of late, and we want to protect our players, specifically out in space.”

That would mean what Browns running back Trent Richardson perpetrated against Eagles safety Kurt Coleman during Week 1 of the 2012 season would now be illegal (via

If the proposal passed, Richardson would be facing a 15-yard penalty.

Incidentally, at the time, Coleman had no problem with the play.

"My head was fine," the safety said after the game. "Got a little bloody. It’s a man’s game, and I love it. I love it, and I thank God for being able to play this game."

Faulk, meanwhile, has his own solution.

"Take the helmets off. Let’s be honest, if you think the helmet is a weapon, take it off. Because I know the helmet on my head is not being used to head-butt anyone; it’s being used to protect myself."

In theory, maybe. Practically speaking, having 250-pound men running full speed into one another sans helmets probably isn't the best way for the league to eradicate serious injures from the sport.

Either way, the owners are expected to vote on the proposal in the coming days.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the Pick-6 Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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