Earl Campbell goes off on new helmet rule: It’s becoming flag football
During an interview with CSN Houston’s Steve Bunin Wednesday, the Hall of Fame running back criticized the league for taking away a physical element of the game by preventing players from using the crown of their helmets for hits.
Campbell, who was an MVP and five-time Pro Bowler for the Houston Oilers during the late ’70s and early ’80s, became known for using every part of his body when he ran. One of his most famous highlights is of him using his head as a battering ram to destroy a defender. Unsurprisingly, Campbell dislikes the new rule.
“Number one, I think football is a very physical game, no doubt. I think we learn that when we’re young. With the NFL changing that rule, I don’t think it’s going to be good at all. I think Roger Goodell at some point has to stop and let football be football,” Campbell told Bunin.
“The way I ran the football, the way I played, I played football with my whole body which I think the game should be played at certain positions like running back.
“I do not think [the rule] is going to last. I think people want to see the running back running the football. I thought we were getting back to that, but pretty obviously we’re not; we’re getting farther away from football.”
Bunin asked Campbell how he thinks the rule would have affected him during his day. Campbell believes he would have received suspensions from the league because of the way he played.
“I played football with my whole body — my hands, my head, my face — I did it all,” he said. “I think you’re taking away from the game of football. I think there are some other things you can do. As far as the running back, I know I wouldn’t have lasted because that’s how I played football.
“I know there’s going to be some things changed, but I never thought I agreed with Jack Lambert. 20 years or 10 years ago, he said the quarterback is going to end up wearing a dress. I did not think that I would live long enough to see that happen, but he’s right.
“I think what they ought to do if they really want to change it all up, give guys like we started football in elementary — flag football — and everybody will know not to bump into nobody.”
Though I completely understand the complaints from former players like Campbell and Eric Dickerson, as well as current players like Matt Forte, the hypocrisy from former players must be recognized. You cannot sue the league for disregarding concussions and the overall safety of players, and then criticize the league when it makes changes to make the game safer. Though Campbell had legendary highlights from using his head as a battering ram, the rule change is a logical response from the league, and players just have to adjust and stop complaining.
Below is video of Campbell’s interview with Bunin: