Last night saw the 2018 preseason opener between Baltimore and Chicago, but the Ravens and Bears were not the biggest items on display. The enforcement of the NFL’s newest rule for illegal contact is getting the most attention today, and one Cowboys’ safety who make his money hitting people is a little nervous.
Kavon Frazier, who just got cleared to return to active duty after some health concerns, reacted to a post from ESPN’s Jac Collinsworth earlier today:
The evolution of football, and “evolution” may be a generous term, towards a safer game hasn’t been kind to defensive players. Years of influence and training toward a hard-hitting style of play are now being legislated against, and Frazier is one of many who are concerned about how they’ll be able to avoid penalties and still perform their job.
Last week, reports came out of the Philadelphia Eagles’ camp that a presentation from NFL officials left players with more questions than answers about the new rules.
According to that report:
“Under the new rule, a player will be penalized 15 yards and potentially fined or ejected for lowering his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent.”
As you can see from Collinsworth’s video, the helmet contact from the Ravens’ player is made in the upper chest. Any layman can watch this and ask, “where else is his head supposed to go?”
Not using your helmet as a weapon is a perfectly legitimate rule. But asking players to raise their heads up on every tackle is not only unreasonable but dangerous. It could lead to more neck injuries if players are making an unnatural, uncomfortable motion in the middle of a high impact play.
In the end, players like Kavon Frazier are left with unanswerable question; how do you play a violent game safely?
Until the NFL accepts what football really is the same way its players do, it is going to keep making a joke of its illogical rules. We’re laughing now, but nobody will be if the yellow flags start raining in the regular season.