GREEN BAY - A new NFL that will make it a penalty for running backs to hit a defender with the crown of their helmet outside the tackle box has its critics. Among them is former Packers running back Ahman Green.
“I say this people got to get ready for a lot of cloth on the ground, maybe design a dress or something and it's going to be yellow,” said Green of the penalty flags he expects to see this season.
Speaking after a recent Green Bay Blizzard practice, a team which he owns part of, Green said that runners should not be leading with the top of their helmet anyway. The Packers all-time leading rusher said, with good coaching, players should have no problem running the right way.
"I like where they're trying to go,” said Green. “They're trying to promote the health and safety of the game but the wording has to probably be presented a little differently to know for the running back we don't have to change our game or let up.”
Green said, if he was playing, he wouldn’t change how he runs because of the new rule; however, he says he never led with his helmet, only his shoulder or the front or side of his helmet. He worries, however, some players might be penalized for just that: leading with their shoulder or front of their helmet, but the officials may see it wrong.
“We [running backs] can still hit full throttle protect ourselves but know we're protecting ourselves for the greater good,” said Green.
The NFL owners who passed the rule cite it as an example of improving player safety.
"It'll certainly make our runners aware of what we expect relative to use of the helmet,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told the Associated Press. “The main thing is it's pro-health and safety, and that's the big thing."
Ultimately, Green says his advice to current players: keep running the way you were always coached, which should keep you within the rules, whether or not the officials see it the same way.
"I would tell any running back, young or old, [the officials have] just got to throw the flag,” said Green.