Attempts to clear up the players understanding of the new NFL helmet rules left Philadelphia Eagles players frustrated and confused.
NFL referees used videos of tackles to highlight the impact of the new rules. and left the Super Bowl LII champions more in the dark than before.
The meeting descended into farce during a Q&A session which highlighted Malcolm Jenkins’ hit on wide receiver Brandin Cooks in Philadelphia’s 41-33 victory over the Patriots earlier this year. A panel of referees was split on whether the tackle contravened the new rules which can result in a 15-yard penalty and ejection.
Jenkins was adamant afterwards that he would still make the play. “I’m going to make that play 10 times out of 10. If it’s a flag, it’s a flag,” – he said. “You can’t slow yourself down thinking about rules in a split second. The game happens really, really fast, faster than the rules, I think, take account for,” he continued. “But I won’t let it affect the way I play.”
The Eagles aren’t alone in their bewilderment at the rule change. Richard Sherman, San Francisco 49ers cornerback, called them “ridiculous”, before adding they were “gonna lead to more lower-extremity injuries.”
Redskins cornerback Josh Norman agreed. “I don’t know how you’re going to play the game,” – he argued. “If your helmet comes in contact? How are you going to avoid that if you’re in the trenches and hit a running back, face mask to face mask and accidentally graze the helmet? It’s obviously going to happen. So, I don’t know even what that definition looks like.“