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NFL passes rule against lowering head to initiate contact with helmet

Texas Tech v Oklahoma State

STILLWATER, OK - SEPTEMBER 25: A general view of a penalty flag on the field during the game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Texas Tech Red Raiders September 25, 2014 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Cowboys defeated the Red Raiders 45-35. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

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The NFL has made a major rule change aimed at player safety, banning all plays on which a player lowers his head to initiate contact with his helmet.

“It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent,” the new rule says, according to the NFL. “The player may be disqualified. Applies to any player anywhere on the field.”

Rich McKay, chair of the league’s Competition Committee, said today that the rule change is a big one that will outlaw a technique that we’ve previously seen often in the game of football.

“This is a pretty significant change,” McKay said. “We felt it was time for a change of this magnitude.”

McKay said the NFL’s research has found that a large number of concussions happen on plays when a player lowers his head, and that banning such techniques will make the game safer.

Until we see the precise wording of the rule, and how strictly the officials enforce it, it’s hard to say how big an impact this change will have. But with the NFL now imposing a 15-yard penalty for a technique that we’ve previously seen often in football, this sounds like it’s going to have a major impact on the sport.