By BRENNAN PRUSAK
Football has long been one of the most violent sports in the country. Although rules have been implemented over the year to try and slow the speed of the game down and limit injuries, the recent prevalence of CTE in former players has caused the league to take drastic measures.
While helmet-to-helmet hits on a defenseless player have resulted in a 15-yard penalty and often a fine, NFL owners unanimously passed a new rule to give a 15-yard penalty to any player that lowers his head to initiate contact along with a possible ejection, defenseless or not.
Back in the 1950s, pretty much anything went in the NFL. Form tackling as we know it today wasn’t necessarily as ubiquitous when player like Dick Lane were running around the field clothes-lining opposing receivers or yanking them down by their face masks. In today’s game both of these techniques will result in a personal foul, but there weren’t any players barking about how it would change the way that the game is played.
Players across the league are not happy with the new rule, and thing that it could be disastrous for the sport.
“They better figure out a way to narrow down the interpretation of a foul here,” said offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, who played eight years in the NFL. “The game is played too fast to determine on-the-field ejections.”
Richard Sherman, a corner for the 49ers, is also having a hard time figuring out exactly how he’s going to do his job this upcoming season. “It’s ridiculous. Like telling a driver if you touch the lane lines, you’re getting a ticket. [It’s] gonna lead to lower-extremity injuries.”
Sherman raises an interesting point here that the news media hasn’t fully embraced. While many members of the media have noted that this rule will likely reduce the amount of concussions in the sport, they fail to address the other injuries that will result from lower tackles.
Just last year superstar Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a season-ending injury when he was hit below the knees by a defender. This hit was scrutinized for week and labeled a dirty play, but if you can’t hit high and are a dirty player for going low, there is nowhere left to go.
“I don’t know how you’re going to play the game,” all pro corner Josh Norman told USA Today, and honestly, I’m not sure either. In a game where the low man always wins, being penalized for dipping your head will certainly result in some controversial flags and ejections.