NFL rule changes: Running backs can no longer lower their “crown”

With player safety and concussion concerns being among the top of league priorities, the NFL has passed a rule that will no longer allow running backs (or ball-carriers) to lower the their crowns in space, using it as a weapon against their opponents.

While not enforceable in goal-line or most short-yardage situations, the rule will penalize teams 15 yards if one of their players lowers their helmet into a would-be defender when both players are outside of the tackle box.

“I didn’t use my head,” Former Browns running back Jim Brown said on Monday. “I used my forearm. The palm of my hand. And my shoulder. And my shoulder pads. I wasn’t putting my head into too much of anything. I don’t think that’s a good idea. At least, it doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.”

Current Browns running back Trent Richardson has been linked to this rule due to the hit he put on Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Kurt Coleman during the team’s 2012 Opening Day game.

Many head coaches have expressed concern over how the rule will be officiated, being of the belief that there is a lot of grey area involved in it’s enforcement. The measure passed by a vote of 31-1.

Other rules that have been augmented include the infamous “tuck” rule as well as the banning of peel-back blocks.

[Related: The Browns are right to lay low with Lombardi]

  • BuckeyeDawg

    I agree with your theory. It seems to me that having much of the energy from the hit going into sending the helmet flying 15 yards downfield is preferable to having that energy absorbed by the defender’s head. Perhaps “pop off helmets” have a future in football?

    In addition, I also have an idea for helmet improvement: make the helmet two distinct pieces: one a “skull cap” of sorts that fits tightly around your head (think combat helmet), and then the other piece would be the outer shell itself. The two pieces would be connected by a series of springs or “shock absorbers” of some kind. This would require a slightly larger helmet than what is used now, and the helmet would necessarily have a little bit of “slop” when a player would quickly turn his head or take a violent hit. But that “slop” is theoretically what would help make the helmet safer by helping to absorb/deflect the energy from the hit.

    Sounds good in my head, anyway.

  • Garry_Owen

    We went to the moon and came back – 6 times (not counting the non-landing trips)! We can do this.

  • Garry_Owen


    I like your idea, too. The “two-layer” helmet system, if designed properly, could be great.

    Remember Mark Kelso from the ’90s Bills? He had that extra layer on the top/front of his helmet that theoretically did the same thing. I understand that it wasn’t proven to actually provide any more protection (because the “main” helmet was still a bad design), but I think the theory was absolutely correct.

  • Garry_Owen

    Notice how Harv introduced quantum mechanics into the discussion and thus ended it? That’s what happens when the observer, by observing, changes the conditions of the thing being observed.

  • mgbode

    and Voyager just left the solar system. and is still somehow sending us data back.

  • Craig Lyndall

    Are they the Josh Gordon ones that are flagged and fined or the Anquan Boldin ones that are allowed to spring 4th and 30-something screen passes? Oh I never know with the coming and going of NFL rules and when they’re enforced, fined, etc. I give up.

  • NoVA Buckeye

    Players CAN STILL lower their crown, but ONLY inside the hash marks.

  • mgbode

    unless the NFL actually starts enforcing spearing again. this is from their Rulebook:

    Article 6: Unnecessary Roughness There shall be no unnecessary roughness.
    This shall include, but will not be limited to:
    (h)using any part of a player’s helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/”hairline” parts) or facemask to butt, spear,or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily