Tackling the Technicalities: Inside the NFL’s new penalty and tackling rule.

      NFL players are tough. The iconic image of these hard helmeted Americans rushing at each other is pervasive in our culture. Few things on TV are as impactful as watching a genuine football tackle. What if this vanished? What if tackling changed? What if the rules were adjusted so these hard hits were toned down to slightly aggressive smacks? Current NFL rules have put limitations on the force of the NFL tackle and sports fans are reacting.

      According to an article from the New York Post the NFL has past rules ensuring football players will not lead tackles with their helmets. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell states, “Our focus is how to take the head out of the game and make sure that we’re using the helmet as protection, and it’s not being used as a weapon, and that’s the core of what we’re focused on, and I think we made a tremendous amount of progress in that this week.” The New York Post states this new rule “will penalize a player for lowering his head and leading with the crown of his helmet to initiate any contact with an opponent. The offending player will be penalized 15 yards and could be ejected from the game.”

      NFL players and fans have spoken out against this new rule. In a USA Today article Redskins cornerback Josh Norman says, “If your helmet comes in contact? How are you going to avoid that if you’re in the trenches and hit a running back, facemask to facemask and accidentally graze the helmet? It’s obviously going to happen. So, I don’t know even what that definition looks like.” In the same article 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman says, “It’s ridiculous,” 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman told USA Today. “Like telling a driver if you touch the lane lines, you’re getting a ticket. [It’s] gonna lead to more lower-extremity injuries.”

      One NFL fan, Mike Freeman, wrote about his thoughts on the rule on the blog Bleacher Report. Freeman states, “No one can say what NFL football will look like next season. Not the players. Not the coaches. Not the league. Not the media…The NFL will say there is no confusion and this is all a media creation. It’s not. There are teams genuinely in the dark about how this rule will be officiated.”

      Some fans have taken to calling this new ruling on tackling the beginning of turning classic American Football into gentler flag football. The NFL season has begun, and this ruling clearly has impact on games. In Philadelphia’s recent match against Tampa Bay, teams incurred a sum total of 10 penalties. When this is compared with Philadelphia’s super bowl against New England containing a sum total of seven penalties, this new ruling is making a difference.

      Sources: Bleacher Report, ESPN, New York Post, NFL, Team Rankings

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