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Riveron hints at possibility of replay for helmet rule

The new NFL helmet rule is only 21 words, but it's been problematic in game action.

Last night, I made the case for the league expanding replay to include the new rule against lowering the helmet, mentioning that NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron explained during Friday’s #PFTPM that replay had been discussed by the Competition Committee.

But then I did something fairly radical. I went back and listened to Riveron on this point, and it sounds like the door is more open than I’d previously believed.

“That was discussed by the Competition Committee,” Riveron said regarding the possibility of using replay review for helmet rule calls. “I know it’s been brought up again. But as you know we have rules and bylaws that we have to adhere to. Can that change before we go into the regular season? I don’t know but that’s part of what the Competition Committee will discuss as we go along here, and there’s always the possibility.”

He’s right about the “rules and bylaws,” but the NFL has a history of doing whatever it wants, whenever it wants, however it wants. If it wants to avert potential disaster by supporting real-time officiating as to the new helmet rule with replay review, it can. And it should.

But the clock is ticking. Once the season starts, it will be hard if not impossible to make further tweaks to the rules.

And so the question is whether the league hears the concerns, whether the league shares the concerns, and whether the league is willing to take steps aimed at addressing the concerns.