The NFL’s former VP of officiating says the league’s new hitting rule will be ‘impossible to officiate’

T.J. Ward of the Denver Broncos laying a hard hit on Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton in an NFL game. Joe Robbins/Getty Images
  • An NFL officiating expert says a new rule aiming to discourage players from hitting with their helmet will be difficult for the league to legislate, and he’s not the only one who feels this way.
  • The league is trying to reverse the trend of rising concussions.

A new NFL rule aimed at increasing player safety will be “impossible to officiate,” in the words of Mike Pereira, the Fox analyst who used to serve as the NFL’s vice president officiating.

The new rule bars players from lowering their helmet to initiate contact on a hit and will hand down penalties of 15 yards for such hits or even ejections in some cases. The NFL added the rule after the league found that concussions were on the rise, per But Pereira is sceptical.

“You’ll see the same things happen with this as we’ve seen with the crown-of-the-helmet rule: very few calls,” Pereira said, as reported by Pro Football Talk. “I think most of it will be taken care of after the fact with potential fines.”

Pereira isn’t the only one to question how officials will handle the rule during a game situation.

The former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz wrote in SB Nation: “A running back is heading full speed into a hole at the line of scrimmage. A safety is flying in for the tackle and is aiming for the knees. The running back lowers himself to protect from the hit and also runs him over. Is that back now ejected? What about the safety?

“How are the officials going to figure out these situations? Does the NFL really want more reviews? Do they want to put more judgment calls like this on the officials? I’d guess none of these are what the NFL actually wants.”

The league, for its part, is still working on precisely how to administrate ejections, according to ESPN. It also intends to send executives to every team to educate players on the new rule.