One prominent NFL player is speaking out against the new NFL version of “targeting,” and it’s shocking who it’s coming from — Ryan Shazier.
The NFL has instituted a new rule similar to the college targeting rule. Players who lead with their helmets to initiate contact with another player are subject to a 15-yard penalty and potential ejection. We see prominent former players decry rule changes, but it’s surprising to hear Ryan Shazier, who the rule was instituted partly because of, speak out somewhat against it.
Shazier didn’t say he was against the rule, but rather that it was going to be hard to for players to change their tackling form due to muscle memory. Here’s what Shazier told Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk:
So it’s kind of hard when they are trying to tell you to avoid hitting a certain way because at the end of the day, a lot of people who are playing this game have been probably playing it since before they could really speak full sentences, and honestly it’s a little hard.
Shazier is right. These current players have been trained anywhere from 15-30 years to tackle a certain way. Suddenly, the NFL wants that to change. In the long-term, it’s almost certainly the right move. In the short-term, it’s going to be a mess.
However, the NFL seemingly doesn’t realize that this rule will do punitive damage to a team’s chances to win a game when a player makes what is now an illegal hit with no ill intent. While the goal of health is good and ultimately paramount, expect this rule to change division races for the next few years.
On its surface, the rule is a good one. Players shouldn’t use their helmets as weapons on the football field. However, there has to be some intent element here. Otherwise, the rule will not only be hard for players to abide by, but impossible.