Minnesota Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo told the media he has worn his favorite hat before, but it seemed fitting on Friday with more complaints around the league about the NFL’s new helmet rule.
“Make Football Violent Again,” the hat read.
— Tanner Peterson (@24tanner) August 3, 2018
It’s a funny hat, and Sendejo said he didn’t wear it just because the helmet rule became a big topic again after the Hall of Fame game on Thursday night. But, the message fits.
“I’ve been wearing this for a while, but I guess it applies more now,” Sendejo said, according to Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Players have spoken out against the rule
The NFL put in the helmet rule to help player safety, but the players aren’t happy.
The Hall of Fame game between the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears was our first glimpse at what will be called. While some calls that drew ire were actually defenseless receiver penalties, there were two “helmet rule” penalties. Officials will call a penalty if a player leads with his helmet to make a hit. The first one Thursday night came less than five minutes into the game, when Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor got flagged for leading with his helmet finishing a tackle on Bears running back Benny Cunningham.
Both calls last night with the rule seemed to be correct calls, with how the NFL will enforce the rule. That might be the problem. Even with just two flags specifically for the rule on Thursday night, everyone could see how the rule could have a huge impact on games.
“I think there are going to be too many flags,” Dolphins safety Reshad Jones told the Miami Herald. “Flags every other play. We’ve got to see how it goes.”
The preseason will be a test for officials and players. Ravens safety Bennett Jackson told SI.com he feels the referees will call far more penalties in the preseason so everyone is fully aware of what the rule is heading into the regular season.
“It’ll be interesting here in the preseason to see how it goes … and see how the referees adjust to it and how the players adjust to it,” Jets safety Marcus Maye said, according to the New York Daily News. “Hopefully it’s not something that they call 10 times a game. But you never know.”
Players don’t want to see the game change
As Sendejo’s hat alluded to, some players like the physical, violent side of football and even though the NFL is trying to make it safer for them, they don’t like seeing the changes. Sendejo tweeted out a picture that poked fun at the new rule.
Made helmet alterations so I’m always “leading with the facemask”. Simplifying calls for league office and playing within new @NFL rule changes.
— Andrew Sendejo (@Asendejo) August 3, 2018
“I’m not changing my game,” Dolphins safety T.J. McDonald told the Miami Herald. “I’ve got maybe one flag since I’ve been in the NFL and I’ve delivered my share of hits. I just try to keep my head up, play as big as possible, but things happen. … I only know how to play the game one way.”
“I’m not going to change the way I play,” Maye told the Daily News. “And I don’t expect the other safeties around the league to change the way they play.”
One prominent player supports the rule
While most players who have spoken about the helmet rule have been critical of it, Los Angeles Rams cornerback Aqib Talib is the rare voice on the other side. He told ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry the rule is “good for the game.”
“They’re just trying to keep the game safe,” Talib told Thiry. “Trying to keep guys healthy.
“They’re trying to have guys healthy when they retire. So it’s good for the tackler, it’s good for the offensive guy.”
The NFL is probably happy any player supports the new rule, because there are likely to be plenty of opposing voices to it through August.
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