The NFL continues to seek different ways to make football safer. Yet, one rule change proposed by the competition committee for next season was met with strong resistance from Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte.
As reported by Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, the rule would make it illegal for rushers to lead with the crown of their helmet once they got outside the tackle box. The proposal was one of three safety-related suggestions.
Forte isn't a fan.
He sent out three tweets in succession about the subject to make his point.
The proposed rule change for running backs might be the most absurd suggestion of a rule change I've ever heard of.— Matt Forte (@MattForte22) March 17, 2013
In order to lower ur shoulder u obviously have to lower ur head. It's a way of protecting ur self from a tackler and a way to break tackles— Matt Forte (@MattForte22) March 17, 2013
U can't change the instinctive nature of running the football.— Matt Forte (@MattForte22) March 17, 2013
While it's no surprise Forte would express his displeasure with a rule aimed at running backs, just as defenders weren't happy with all changes that impacted how they play, he makes a solid point. The action the NFL proposes to outlaw is a natural instinct.
When a running back gets out in the open field, it's very common to see him lower his shoulder and head in an attempt to plow through a defender. Somebody like Forte, who spends a lot of time on the edge, does it quite often.
What's your opinion of the proposed rule?
If the league decides rushers aren't allowed to do it anymore, it's going to take a concerted effort on his part to change the way he plays. On the first pass of the screen when he gets one-on-one with a defender, his instinct might be to drop down and barge through.
It will take some time to train himself to do something else, just like it took time for hard-hitting safeties to back off on so-called "defenseless" receivers. Players aren't happy when rule changes affect their game.
It doesn't appear that will stop the NFL from continuing its quest to revamp safety standards and rules to protect them, though. The tricky part will be figuring out when to stop overhauling the rules before all the physicality—which is part of what attracts viewers—is gone.
Forte seems to believe the league has already crossed that line with its newest proposal. We'll see whether his concerns are given serious thought before the owners vote at their annual meeting.
Unfortunately for Forte and his fellow running backs, the phrase "safety first" has been winning out a lot lately.