Photo - Aj Mansour (KFAN)
By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - When the NFL passed the "Crown of The Helmet" rule earlier this spring, they had to have assumed that controversy would not be far behind it's decision. Following the 31-1 vote that passed the rule on March 20th, 2013, NFL players immediately took to twitter and bashed the legislation that earlier that very day was assumed to have been dead in the water.
Chiming in with the first wave of players, Vikings safety Harrison Smith was one of the first to sound off when he tweeted, "Soon everyone will get a trophy for participation."
Defensive end Brian Robison was soon to follow saying, "My main concern is that the rules are just too confusing at times. Ex. When can a RB lower his head now to protect himself?"
Three weeks later, and the league-wide malevolence continues. Last weekend Ray Rice sounded off sharing his disdain for the new rule and Tuesday afternoon, out in Beaverton, Oregon for a Nike event, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson became the latest to jump into the deep end and share his feelings on the league's new rule.
"Sooner or later we're going to be playing touch football," Peterson told me amidst rolling eyes and a frustrated shaking head. "That's just the passion in me that said that and then the maturity in me said, you know what, it's an okay rule because it protects players."
Despite his ability to step back and realize what might be the best intentions of the league, Peterson was not shy to make his displeasure with the new rule crystal clear as we continued to chat.
"The one thing I do not like about the rule is they single it out towards running backs," Peterson explained. "From my point of view, when you're looking at the defense and there's eleven guys coming at you. There's so many times that guys have came at me and lowered their helmet not with their face mask facing me. They just lowered their helmet and came in and dived at me, my legs and my knees."
In its full extent, the rule is supposed to be applied towards both sides of the ball including ball carriers and defensive tacklers. Still, the tactic of lowering the helmet in today's game is primarily utilized by running backs who are bracing themselves for a collision, or as Bears running back Matt Forte puts it, "lowering the boom." Because of this, there are not many that will argue the notion that running backs, especially aggressive and forceful running backs like Adrian Peterson, will be most impacted by the restrictions that the new rule will carry.
It then becomes important to understand that the instinct to lower your helmet and protect the body is at the very essence of human instinct. Add to that the realization that coaches have been teaching players to lower the helmet to protect the ball since the beginning of time and you've got a recipe for disaster when that motion is then legislated to become illegal.
So when the running back who currently resides at the top of the NFL's food chain speaks and doesn't fully appreciate the protective inclinations of the new enforcement, it's likely to catch the ear of somebody over at the league office.
"We have to protect ourselves and that's one of the ways that we have always learned," Peterson continued. "A lot of guys will still do it, but I'm one of the guys that does it that way. I'll be more comfortable with it if they just spread the love and bring that over to the defensive side and make sure when those guys come in to attack us, that they've got their head up and face mask showing as well. And anytime that they have their helmet down, they get flagged just like they are putting on us. I'll be satisfied if they do it that way."
It's unclear exactly how many times this new rule would have impacted Peterson during his historic rushing performance in 2012, but judging by his reaction during our conversation, it's fair to say that it's a decently regular part of his game.
So Adrian will have to adjust and adapt.
He remains visibly bound and determined to become the first running back in league history to run for back-to-back 2,000 yard seasons. As long as there is no plan in Peterson's mental playbook to let a silly rule stand between him this accomplishment, I would suggest that we stop doubting him and let him continue to amaze.