Although the NFL's new helmet rule has turned into a full-blown controversy, the league has decided not to change anything about it heading into the regular season. Well, except for the small part that they decided to change.
After a meeting on Wednesday, the NFL Competition Committee decided that the new helmet rule, which was , would be implemented as it was written. The announcement came from NFL's Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Troy Vincent.
"The committee reviewed feedback received 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 clubs this spring, which includes no additional use of instant replay."
Of course, when Vincent says "no changes," he actually means there will be one subtle change. The NFL announced that incidental contact won't be penalized, something that was not written into the original rule.
"The committee also determined that inadvertent or incidental contact with the helmet and/or facemask is not a foul," Vincent said. "As all adjust to new rule, we will continue to provide video feedback and examples of fouls and incorrect calls to coaches, players and officials over the the next two weeks and throughout the season as this new rule is implemented."
The NFL can send all the videos they want, but it doesn't help if no one understands the rule. Earlier this month, the league attempted to clarify how the new rule, but the video only caused more confusion.
Even the NFL's head of officiating, Al Riveron, wasn't sure about one aspect of the rule. Earlier this week, Riveron had no idea if the new.
"That was discussed by the Competition Committee," Riveron said regarding of possibly using replay. "I know it's been brought up again. But as you know we have rules and bylaws that we have to adhere to. Can that change before we go into the regular season? I don't know."
The NFL finally cleared up that loophole on Wednesday be announcing that the rule wouldn't be subject to replay.
The new rule has been making headlines through the first two weeks of the preseason and that's because it's being called nearly 1.5 times per game. Through 31 games, there have been 55 helmet rule penalties called so far, according to Pro Football Talk.
Although you'll rarely see an NFL player bash a league rule, players haven't been shy about ripping the helmet rule. Richard Sherman says , Eagles players are "frustrated" with the lack of clarity and Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger thinks the rule will have unintended consequences that could lead to injuries, which is kind of ironic, because the new rule is supposed to protect players, not get them injured.
Redskins corner Josh Norman admitted this week that he's still confused by the rule, even after two preseason games. As for Sherman, he's so upset by the rule, he challenged the people in the NFL's front office to show everyone what a legal tackle should look like.
Even NFL coaches have expressed their displeasure with the new rule. Mike Zimmer believes it's going to cost some players their jobs.
The fact that the new rule is causing a controversy before the regular season has even started isn't good for the NFL and things could get worse if the new rule ends up deciding a game or two during the first few weeks of the season.