NFL tries to clarify new helmet rule that can result in ejections in social media video

Earlier this offseason, the NFL enacted a new helmet rule that is its version of the targeting rule. Now, after hearing the backlash from several players, the league is attempting to bring more clarity to the the rule so that the NFL community has a better understanding of what kinds of hits can result in a penalty and/or an ejection.

Below, you'll find a video that the NFL football operations department released on Saturday. It contains examples of hits that would be a penalty and hits that would lead to an ejection. You'll probably remember at least one of the examples (Danny Trevathan's hit on Davante Adams last season).

According to the video, "it is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent." To be ejected, a player has to lower "his helmet to establish a linear body posture prior to initiating and making contact with the the helmet," a player needs to have "an unobstructed path to his opponent," and the contact has to be "clearly avoidable" in the sense that the "player delivering the blow had other options."

The rule, which was passed in late March, has been widely criticized by players. During an interview with USA Today Sports, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman called it "ridiculous," compared it to a driver getting ticketed for touching the lane lines, and predicted that it would "lead to more lower-extremity injuries." Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander agreed with his assessment, saying, "There are going to be injuries that you can't avoid. You can't legislate everything out." Other former players also have spoken out against the rule.

There's no doubt that enforcing the rule will be difficult and there's no doubt that fans and players will be skeptical of the officials' ability to make the correct call. Nobody wants to see a star player get incorrectly ejected in a big moment of a big game. But the intent of the rule is to priortize player safety, and it's tough to argue against player safety after seeing countless players -- including Ryan Shazier last year -- get seriously injured when they've lowered their head. 

"For us this is a pretty significant change," NFL competition committee chairman Rich McKay said after the rule was passed, via NFL.com. "This one technique, we saw so many hits when a player lowered his head and delivered a hit and either hurt himself or the player he was hitting.

"It was time for a change of this magnitude."

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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