In an effort to continue improving the safety of its players, the NFL approved a new rule today that bans running backs from leading into hits with the top of their helmet when outside the tackle box or more than three yards down field. In fact, it appears that once a vote was taken the rule passed convincingly:
The crown-of-the-helmet rule has also passed by a wide margin, I'm told.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 20, 2013
This rule is highly controversial. Supporters of the change are happy that this rule continues to push the league in the direction of improved safety and that it puts some level of responsibility on the offensive player to protect himself rather than just penalizing defensive players for leading with their helmets. Opponents question whether the change is necessary and if the rule can be consistently applied by multiple referees watching the game at full speed.
Ultimately, the league absolutely needs to continue to improve the safety of its players, and it seems that the only way to do so is to legislate the conduct of the players on the field by applying penalties and sanctions. Without continuing efforts to improve the safety of the players, the league would most likely find itself in a dire situation with the slew of former players ending up with brain trauma. I just hope that the league abandons its quest for an 18-game schedule instead of continuing that desire and looking horribly hypocritical.
In the same meeting, the NFL has eliminated the "Tuck rule" which has been under much scrutiny and debate for years. It makes sense for a football stripped from a quarterback who is not in the act of trying to throw said ball to be ruled fumbled; I'm happy that this confusing and strange rule will be taken off the books. A more complete explanation for the rule change can be found here.
UPDATE: The NFL also passed the so-called "Jim Schwartz" rule. From now on, an automatically reviewable play will be reviewed even if a head coach throws a red challenge flag.