OK... maybe not literally. But pretty much in terms of functional effectiveness, that's apparently what's on the books.
As you've probably heard, the NFL has plans to discuss whether or not to penalize RBs from lowering their heads into tacklers in this week's competition committee. When I first heard it, I kind of shrugged, because to me it seemed so asinine that it would never pass.
And then ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported regarding Rodger Goodell's intent is so strong that, well, as he put it: "It's passing."
What in the flying blue hell? First off, let's do a quick test, Goodell. I want you to run full force into 3 guys bigger than you. Oh, they're coming full force as well. Two are going to do upper-body tackles while the third goes lower body. Or hell, switch it up. I don't care. Then tell me how you do.
Oh, what's that? You instinctively lowered your head? Maybe you didn't mean to turn your body into a spear, but you did it anyways? You couldn't help it, it was not only basic human instinct: IT KEPT YOUR HEAD ATTACHED?!
Yes, some- well, almost all- RBs lower their heads (which are covered by helmets) into guys who are coming at them as means of ‘hitting back'. But whatever. How are you possibly going to tell who did that, and who lowered their head on pure reaction but accidentally bumped someone with it? What about the RB lunging for one more yard? You can't expect running backs to keep their heads upright when they are charging into piles... good G-d that will lead to some decapitations.
But equally important is the absolute absurd "poster boy" of this rule change (as reported by ProFootballTalk): Trent Richardson. During an Eagles-Browns game, Richardson did what every single RB in the NFL does when they're about to take a tackler head one, and lowered his head. Kurt Coleman, of the Eagles, was the one making the tackle, and the force was so great his helmet went flying. OMG!
Except....... Coleman was fine. No concussion. A cut on his chin from the chin strap flying off, and that was that. Even he didn't think there was anything wrong afterwards (and not in that woozy post-concussion way).
The NFL is really screwing up here. We've seen with helmet-to-helmet calls, and also with some roughing the passer calls, that refs can have a hard time really making some judgment calls. Many times a player absolutely launches a devastating helmet-to-helmet hit, and nothing gets called (fines after the fact notwithstanding). And then other times, there is at best incidental contact that simply occurs over the course of a football game- nothing intentional, malicious, or damaging. But... TWEET! Flag gets thrown. You throw another wrench into the gears with this bizarre rule- a rule apparently proposed on a play that didn't even injure anyone- and we Vikings are going to see a looooot more flags in our games pretty soon.
Even more horrifying in the NFL's incompetence in this matter is that once again, a RB lowering their head can often protect them. This means that RBs will face the devil's choice: get a flag, or get hurt. Again, go charging into a pile with your head up. Good luck and G-d bless you.
There's a lot of talk about the NFL becoming a passing league. Well, that's fine and good so long as it's not being legislated as such. Banning hits against defenseless receivers was a continuation along the lines that included sensitivity towards protecting QBs... rules that, as a side effect, enhanced the effectiveness of the passing game. But never have I seen the NFL actively pass a rule intended to actively reduce the potential effectiveness of the running back position. Let's just hope at the competition committee, cooler heads and common sense prevails, and Rodger Goodell doesn't get his boneheaded way.