Earlier this week, NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron posted a short video aimed at helping fans better understand the new rule against lowering the helmet and initiating contact. For a variety of reasons (including an inexplicable lack of narration), the effort fell short. Riveron has now compiled for media consumption a much lengthier video containing the various lowering-the-helmet fouls from Week One.
What the league wants by way of body posture is becoming more clear. It’s also becoming more clear that, barring a dramatic change in player techniques, there will be a lot of these fouls called (and, given the limitations of real-time, naked-eye officiating, not called) in 2018.
Language of the new rule notwithstanding, the league seems to want to eradicate situations where a player dips his head, making initial contact with the crown/top of his helmet. That instinctive maneuver will require many players to undo years of habits and muscle memory. It also will, in too many cases, turn on dumb luck; the helmet can be lowered and the crown/top can approach the opponent as long as the shoulder makes the initial contact with the opponent.
The video concedes that at least two plays triggering fouls during the Week One preseason games were not violations, including the hotly-debated hit by Cardinals safety Travell Dixon on Chargers receiver Geremy Davis. But, as explained here in the aftermath of the game, it appears that the rule as written was applied correctly, given that Dixon did indeed lower his helmet before impact.
But here’s the thing: Dixon’s helmet wasn’t lowered to the point where the crown/top of it made first…