In case you missed it last week, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) recently approved 10 rules changes for next football season, including three related to helmets coming off players’ heads during games.
If you remember, last year’s rule change required players to sit out one play if their helmet comes off while the ball is live. As a follow-up, the NFHS Football Rules Committee added three additional rules for 2013 as an extension of that:
--- An illegal personal contact foul was added to Rule 9-4-3 to state that “no player or nonplayer shall initiate contact with an opposing player whose helmet has come completely off.”
--- In addition, a new listing in Rule 9-6-4 will state that it is illegal participation “for a player whose helmet comes completely off during a down to continue to participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged.”
--- The committee also added language to Rule 3-5-10 to clarify that if the helmet comes completely off during the down or subsequent dead-ball action related to the down – and is not directly attributable to a foul by the opponent – the player must leave the game for at least one down, with the exception of halftime or overtime intermission. When this occurs, an official’s time-out shall be called.
“Player safety has been and will continue to be the top priority for members of the NFHS Football Rules Committee,” Brad Garrett, chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee and assistant executive director of the Oregon School Activities Association, said in a statement. “These rules changes regarding helmet-less players are more examples of the group’s commitment to minimize risk within the game.”
One of the notable rule changes not related to helmets: While offensive and defensive pass interference will still each draw a 15-yard penalty, offensive pass interference no longer will result in loss of down and defensive pass interference will no longer automatically result in a first down.