Emmitt Smith critical of proposed safety rule
DALLAS — The NFL has proposed a rule change that would prevent ball-carriers from initiating contact with the crown of the helmet. It’s an attempt to make the game safer – but the league’s all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, thinks the NFL should have its own head examined.
“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.”
The NFL’s rules-making competition committee will propose this change to NFL owners at league meetings next week. At least 24 votes from 32 owners are required for passage.
“As a running back, it’s almost impossible (to not lower your head),” the Dallas Cowboys legend said. “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.
“I disagree with the rule altogether. It doesn’t make any sense for that position. It sounds like it’s been made up by people who have never played the game of football.”
It is the league’s view that the crown of the helmet is dangerous for both the defender (who isn’t allowed to use the technique against ball-carriers) and the player with the ball. The competition committee is clearly seeking extra protection for defenders.
“That’s part of the game,” Smith said of “the violent part of the game … I don’t know how you’re going to be able to enforce that rule without really jeopardizing the integrity of the game itself.”
Smith, who helped the Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles and in his 15 NFL seasons amassed a record 18,355 rushing yards, believes the league’s effort “makes the ref’s job, that’s already hard, even tougher. There’s no way in the world a running back is not going to be able to avoid contact without leading with his head first. … If this is truly what the NFL is trying to get after and they’re calling that ‘defenseless’, it’s so subjective that it doesn’t make any sense. That’s one rule that absolutely does not make sense.”