Opinion: NFL’s helmet rules unfairly punish defensive players

Ryan Scott

Anne Buie

Ryan Scott Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed was suspended for one game for an illegal hit on Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders last week.

Reacting to the initial suspension of Reed, Steelers safety Ryan Clark, tweeted, “tough on Ed getting suspended. I can’t say I agree with that. It was a penalty, but I don’t believe he was intentionally trying to harm Emmanuel.”

The suspension was later appealed and reduced to a $50,000 fine, but even that is too much.
While I do not believe the National Football League should encourage dangerous play, suspending and fining players who are doing what they have been taught to do is taking things too far.

Rule 12, section 2, article 8 of the official NFL rulebook states it is illegal for a player to use “any part of his helmet… or facemask to butt, spear or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily.”

This is a rule that should be in place, but the NFL and referees do not realize this puts unrealistic expectations on defensive players.

Based on the way the rule is currently implemented, defensive players are at a disadvantage because they are forced to make split second corrections to account for offensive players’ movement.

With the recent focus on reducing concussions in the league, I understand they are trying to make the game safer for the players.

“I know concussions has been a big thing. I’ve had concussions before, and I know guys are going to have concussions,” Reed said in an article for ESPN. “If you want to stop it, stop the game.”

What those enforcing the rules forget is that football is an inherently dangerous game.

“It is tackle football. It is a contact sport and a brutal one,” Reed said in the same article.

I’m not advocating dangerous play, nor am I a fan of seeing players get hurt. What I am a fan of, though, is defensive players being allowed to properly do their job and not be hamstrung by draconian enforcement of the rules.

Scott, a sophomore computer science major from Huntersville, is an opinion writer.