The NFL has passed a rule that makes it a penalty for ball carriers to strike defenders with the crown of their helmet in the open field.
It's another rule change made in the interest of player safety, and it's sure to stir controversy despite passing 31-1. The best running backs often operate on instinct instead of thinking about how to get around or through a defender. Now, if they lower their head, it's a 15-yard penalty. The rule does not apply to short-yardage or goal-line situations. "We're bringing the shoulder back to the game," said Rams coach Jeff Fisher, a member of the competition committee. "The helmet is a protective device, but it's not being used as that as of late." Officials will also have a hard time policing this as most tackles are bang-bang plays. In other rules news, the "Tuck Rule" has been eliminated. Unfortunately for the Raiders, it is not retroactive.