NFL: Linemen Who Lower Helmet to Make Contact out of Stance Will Be Penalized

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2018

The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers square of at the line of scrimmage during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press

NFL linemen will need to make an effort to avoid head contact as they come out of their stances if they don't want to be penalized during the 2018 season. 

According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, league head of officiating Al Riveron showed reporters a webinar to further explain how linemen will be affected by the new lowering the helmet rule.

Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk cited Pelissero and noted Riveron said even defensive linemen who initiate contact with the head as they are coming out of their stances will be penalized.

"Can't do it. He's got to get his head up," Riveron said when asked about defensive linemen.

Smith suggested this could be the first step toward the league eventually eliminating the three-point stance considering how often players make contact with their heads at the snap coming out of those stances.

Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com reported on the new rule in March, writing "a player will be penalized 15 yards and potentially ejected any time he lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent. It will apply to tacklers, ball carriers and even linemen, and it will take the place of a previous rule that limited the penalty to contact with the crown of the helmet."

Seifert cited NFL research and noted almost half of all helmet-to-helmet hits caused concussions during the 2017 campaign.

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The possibility of ejections stands out, but Riveron said, "It’s not going to be an ejection-fest" and clarified there needs to be an unobstructed path, per Pelissero.

Pelissero highlighted a couple of examples from the presentation:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

“That posture right there is what we need to eliminate from our game.” Referring to Browns player here. Colts player stumbling, defending himself - not a foul. https://t.co/ZW4S2SazVC

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

No surprise Danny Trevathan’s hit on Davante Adams is also on the ejection reel. Example of what Riveron keeps saying about a player having an obstructed path, making a choice to hit with helmet. https://t.co/8Xdu4ZjAw8

This is all in an effort of making the game safer as the NFL looks to reduce concussions and head injuries, but linemen may see themselves penalized more often this season until they become fully accustomed to the rule change.

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