No amount of screaming from legendary players, including, most recently, Jerome Bettis, or hooting from fans about the gamer turning into flag football is going to deter the NFL from enacting more stringent safety rules. Don Banks points out that the hue and cry over the new rules which prohibits players from using the crown of their helmet is a classic overreaction.
By Don Banks, SI.com
PHOENIX -- Emmitt Smith, Matt Forte, Eric Dickerson and running backs everywhere may squawk, but every change the NFL makes these days on behalf of player safety makes somebody squawk, doesn't it? Should the league really care? Not if it feels like it's on solid ground, as it does with the common-sense proposalthat would ban players from using the crown of their helmet in the open field.
The reality is this: The rule change, passed at this week's NFL annual meeting at the Arizona Biltmore, won't represent a sea change in the way running backs ply their craft. Education and adaptation will help mitigate this issue in time. But we're not there yet. We're really only in the beginning stages of the debate, and that means the loud crowd often drowns out all else, with Smith saying anyone proposing such a rule has "absolutely lost (their) mind,'' and Forte claiming that it "might be the most absurd suggestion for a rule change that I've ever heard.''
Provocative, inflammatory quotes to be sure, but here's a heads-up, guys: The league's effort to legislate against heads-down contact isn't going away any time soon. With brain injuries and concussions still being the hot-button topic in the league, this train is moving in only one direction. And it's not back to the day when a Walter Payton or an Earl Campbell gave us all those iconic images of them dropping their head and burying it in the chest of an over-matched linebacker or defensive back in the pursuit of five extra yards.
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