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#pounditSunday, September 25, 2022

NFL makes notable rule tweak for 2022 season

Roger Goodell at a press conference

Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announces the final pick of the 2021 NFL Draft for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL implemented a rule in 2018 that prohibited players from lowering their helmet to initiate contact with an opponent, and the wording of that rule has been changed a bit ahead of the upcoming season.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noticed that the NFL has made a quiet tweak to the lowering of the helmet rule. The rule now states the following: “It is a foul if a player lowers his head and makes forcible contact with his helmet against an opponent.”

Previously, the rule said that a foul occurs when the player “initiates” contact with an opponent. That word has been removed. The word “forcible” has also been added and was not in the previous rule.

What does all that mean? Florio was told by a source that NFL officials removed the word “initiate” because it became a big topic of debate when players were fined. It was likely difficult to prove which player initiated the contact, which worked in the favor of players during the appeals process.

By adding “forcible,” the NFL is probably trying to allow officials to use more discretion. Of course, that could also become a problem during appeals.

We have seen some ridiculous calls that stem from the lowering the helmet rule. It is possible that the NFL is trying to avoid situations like that.

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