Have you ever wondered how the NFL comes up with the rules they use? The rules of professional football are written by the NFL Competition Committee. This committee takes input from coaches, current and former players, managers, the media, medical personnel, and team owners. In addition, they review game film and discuss potential rule changes in depth.

For each potential rule change, the committee asks four key questions:

  1. Does the rule change improve the game?
  2. How will the new rule be officiated?
  3. How will the new rule be coached?
  4. How can players play by the rule?

For any new rule, player safety is the most important consideration.

Once a rule is implemented, the NFL works with coaches, players and officials to help everyone learn and adapt to the new rule. To make this process simpler and easier, the NFL also produces training videos that demonstrate and explain the rule clearly.

New Use of Helmet Rule

The NFL’s new “Use of Helmet” rule is one of the most significant changes for the 2018 season. This rule penalizes anyone who lowers his head and uses this helmet to make contact with an opponent. This rule applies to both offenses and defenses players at all times. This new rule penalizes players can engage in two specific behaviors:

  • Lowering the Head

    Players who lower their head immediately before impact could be penalized.

  • Initiating Contact with the Helmet

    Striking an opponent with the helmet greatly increases the risk of injury, both to the player and the opponent. It doesn’t matter where the contact happens; initiating contact with the helmet to any part of an opponent is a file.

The NFL takes this new rule seriously. Use of Helmet fouls may result in immediate ejection. In addition, all ejections will be reviewed by senior officials, and players may be subject to even more stringent penalties.

Big, exciting hits and dynamic contact are two of the things that make football so exciting to play and watch. However, player safety must be the number one priority. The “Use of Helmet” rule is just the latest in a series of steps the NFL has taken to improve safety.