Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith didn't mince any words when asked about a potential NFL rule change on Thursday.
If the league's competition committee approves a rule outlawing contact that is initiated by the crown of the helmet, Smith says that will be proof that the league "has lost" its "mind.
Twenty four of 32 votes are needed to pass the safety-minded rule, which would apply to players on both sides of the ball when contact is made outside the tackle box. The vote will be made at next week's owners meetings in Phoenix.
Smith, the league's all-time rushing leader who fought for every one of his 18,355 yards, will apparently be watching with much interest.
“If I’m a running back and I’m running into a linebacker, you’re telling me I have to keep my head up so he can take my chin off?’’ Smith said Thursday in an exclusive interview with Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan. “You’ve absolutely lost your mind.’’
“As a running back, it’s almost impossible (to not lower your head),’’ said the Dallas Cowboys legend. “The first thing you do is get behind your shoulder pads. That means you’re leaning forward and the first part of contact that’s going to take place is your head, regardless."
Given that most of the previous safety rule changes have solely put defenders at a disadvantage, you have to think a few linebackers and defensive backs might want to ask Smith if he likes how it feels to be the target of legislation.
But it's also a strange rule to think about being passed considering that a lot of football's popularity was built on the backs of wrecking-ball runs from players like Earl Campbell, Jerome Bettis and Smith. And from a practical standpoint, how are running backs going to separate themselves from the lowering-their-head instinct that's been ingrained in them since peewee football? It seems like there'd be a lot of flags thrown the first few years.
The crown-of-helmet contact rule isn't the only change coming before the committee. Also up for vote is the tuck rule that started the Tom Brady and the New England Patriots dynasty back in 2002, replay challenges after a coach makes an illegal challenge, low blocks from offensive lineman and what's allowed when teams line up for a field goal. All the proposed rule changes can be seen here< or discussed in further detail here
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