Report: NFL Officials Will Speak About Controversial Helmet Rule Before Season

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2018

A detailed view of the shirt of NFL field judge Greg Gautreaux during the Pro Football Hall of Fame NFL preseason game between the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Ravens Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, in Canton, Ohio. The Ravens won 17-16. (AP Photo/David Richard)
David Richard/Associated Press

The 2018 NFL season hasn't even started and there are reportedly already plans for league officials to discuss the controversial new helmet rule. 

According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, NFL officials will talk about the rule during a conference call Wednesday. Florio noted "it's expected that participants in the call will lobby for potential tweaks" and pointed out "the overriding goal will be to come up with ways to narrow the focus for the officials."

Among the possible tweaks to be discussed is extending replay review to include calls regarding the new rule, limiting penalties to hits involving just the crown of the helmet rather than the entire thing or limiting flags to only plays with forcible helmet contract.

That replay could be extended to this rule stands out considering Florio previously noted NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron said doing so was a possibility.

As it stands, the rule that was approved in March calls for flags and even ejections in severe cases whenever an offensive or defensive player "initiates contact with his helmet to any part of an opposing player's body," per Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today.

The issue, though, is that the broad language of the rule has placed officials in situations where they have to make quick calls with fast-moving targets colliding during plays regardless of the intent of the players.

Confusion and criticism have followed in the preseason, with Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer suggesting, "It's going to cost some people some jobs," per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. "Playoffs, jobs, the whole bit, I guess."

Elsewhere, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman called it "idiotic" while pointing out the flaws:

Richard Sherman @RSherman_25

There is no “make adjustment” to the way you tackle. Even in a perfect form tackle the body is led by the head. The rule is idiotic And should be dismissed immediately. When you watch rugby players tackle they are still lead by their head. Will be flag football soon.

There has been enough noise surrounding the rule in the preseason that NFL officials felt it necessary to discuss potential changes during a conference call before the games start counting in the standings.