NFL players are just as upset about new tackling rule as everyone else

Blake SchusterYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/teams/sfo" data-ylk="slk:San Francisco 49ers">San Francisco 49ers</a> running back <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/players/31394/" data-ylk="slk:Jeff Wilson">Jeff Wilson</a> gets tackled by <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nfl/teams/hou" data-ylk="slk:Houston Texans">Houston Texans</a> defensive back Andre Chachere in a preseason game featuring lots of questionable flags. (Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson gets tackled by Houston Texans defensive back Andre Chachere in a preseason game featuring lots of questionable flags. (Getty Images)

Another week of preseason football, another week of head-scratching flags being thrown. Welcome back, NFL.

Ever since the league adopted its policy of handing out 15-yard penalties for “lowering [the] head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent” this past offseason, many have questioned just how this rule would be enforced. 

Well, if it’s anything like how referees are applying the rule in preseason games, this NFL season could be as tough to watch as any.

According to officials in Minnesota this week, a simple sack is now considered roughing the passer:

Another hit from the latest slate of preseason games shows what was once thought of as a solid tackle. Now it’s a penalty:

Fans, players, agents and media all have serious concerns over how football is supposed to be played now. And from the looks of things, the frustration is already beginning to mount.

NFL players sound off

A sampling of social media on Sunday shows that past and present NFL players are already upset with the change and plenty already calling to reverse the rule.


The flags will soon get worse

Keep in mind that this is still preseason. Players are usually taking it a bit easier and not trying to hit as hard or get injured. Once the game is being played at full speed in a few weeks, it’s going to get even more uproarious to see calls like this get made.

Yahoo Sports Terez Paylor can already see a future in which tortured teams are held back even further because of the helmet rule. And already the league has been doing damage control by trying to explain what a perfect tackle should look like in today’s game. But that explanation only confused people more. 

It’s just enough to make you miss the replacement refs. Say what you will about the ‘Fail Mary’, it was at least exciting.

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Blake Schuster is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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