PHOENIX -- The NFL approved a rule change that makes it illegal for a ball carrier or tackler to initiate contact using the crown of his helmet in the open field.
NFL teams voted 31-1 to approve the rule. The Cincinnati Bengals voted against it.
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett understands why the rule is in place, but has concerns.
"It’s really a tricky thing from the standpoint of, it’s so well-intended," Garrett said. "I think the league, coaches, players, we all value the health and safety of our players, maybe above anything else. You want to make sure you implement rules that can help advance that. I think the league’s done a great job of that over the last few years. A lot of it’s trying to take the head out of the game, get the shoulder back into the game. They’ve done it in a lot of different ways. I think it’s changed how certain players play in a good way to help improve the health and safety of players, and I think this is just another attempt to do that."
League officials reviewed two weeks -- Week 10 and 16 of the 2012 season -- and determined there were 11 ball carriers who used the crown of their heads on a play. There were no repeat offenders, the league added.
The crown of the head has been determined to be the top of the head and not the front of the face mask, to help officials, coaches and players understand what can and cannot be used during a play. A video will be distributed to every NFL team regarding legal plays with ball carriers.
"We all understand the challenges that it puts the officials in," Garrett said. "A lot of the defenseless player calls they’ve had to make over the last couple years are hard calls. The game happens fast, and they’ve got to be bang, 'he hit him with his head first, it wasn’t his shoulder.' Players duck. All the things that go into making those snap judgments, they’re difficult, and I think that’s the real concern that the coaches might have is simply that. It’s a hard rule to officiate, and far be it from us to say we understand what an official’s going through, but the game does happen fast, those collisions happen quickly. I think it’s well-intended."