Lose a helmet, lose a play

I’m sure many of you have at least seen the replay of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning having his helmet knocked off in a preseason game the other night and taking a physical beating.

Multiple readers have said they’ve seen helmets coming off more often in the past and wondered why. I’ve noticed some helmets flying myself. I have not been able to get the “why?’’ part of the question answered, but I’ve got a call into an NFC South equipment manager who may be able to at least shed light on precautions teams are supposed to take to keep helmets on.

I also reached out to the NFL office and NFC information director Randall Liu, who sometimes had to double as vice president of preventing international incidents when the Saints were in London two years ago, and he supplied me with some good information.

One of the league’s new rules for 2010 relates to helmet removal. It simply states, “If a ball carrier’s helmet comes off during a play, the ball will immediately be blown dead.’’

I can think of a catch by Tampa Bay’s Michael Clayton last year where he ran for a touchdown after losing his helmet. Under the new rule, the play would have ended as soon as the helmet was off.

“We watched some tape where players are running in the field of play without helmets,’’ Atlanta Falcons president and co-chairman of the NFL’s Competition Committee said. “In our mind, that is not a safe situation.’’

So, at least we know how the league plans to deal with this issue. But I’m hoping that equipment guy calls back so we can get a little better understanding of why we’re seeing helmets flying.