Kareem Hunt fined most of his game check for helmet rule violation

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/30199/" data-ylk="slk:Kareem Hunt">Kareem Hunt</a>’s fine for lowering his helmet is a rare case of the NFL holding a ball carrier responsible for dangerous contact. (Getty)
Kareem Hunt’s fine for lowering his helmet is a rare case of the NFL holding a ball carrier responsible for dangerous contact. (Getty)

The NFL’s new helmet rule barring players from initiating contact by lowering their heads confounded fans and players and was one of the preseason’s biggest stories.

But one officiating controversy gave way for another when the regular season started as questionable roughing-the-passer penalties have changed the outcome of multiple games.

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Helmet rule flags rare in regular season

As for the helmet rule, Pro Football talk reports that officials have thrown only four flags in the first four weeks of the season after a whopping 51 were thrown in the first two weeks of the preseason.

The change came as officials were directed to avoid flagging inadvertent contact.

NFL: Officials missed flag on Kareem Hunt

NFL officiating head Al Riveron said on Friday that officials missed a call in Monday’s game between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City on Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt when he lowered his head to run through Broncos safety Justin Simmons.

Hunt docked most of his game check

The league did its best to rectify the missed call on Saturday, fining Hunt $26,739 for unnecessary roughness stemming from illegal lowering of his helmet.

As KCTV’s Tom Martin pointed out, that’s a big chunk of Hunt’s game check. Hunt, a second-year player on his rookie contract is scheduled to make $575,250 in base salary this year. 

While that is a hefty fine relative to his salary, the penalty is just. Defenders are flagged for unnecessary roughness violations while ball carriers are rarely held responsible for their role in dangerous plays that result from reckless form.

But maybe the NFL should pro-rate fines based on players salaries.

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