- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was one of the prime examples shown on the video presentation the NFL gave in March about the new rule that will penalize running backs for leading with the crown of their helmet in the open field. Murray is aware of this, and true to bullheaded NFL player form, he says he's not going to change his running style to fit some stupid new rule that's designed to keep him from paralyzing himself someday, no sir. Per Calvin Watkins:
"I'm not changing my running style," Murray said last week at a charity event. "If I get fined, hopefully, [Tony] Romo will take care of the first couple [of fines]."
Earlier this offseason, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he had concerns about how the NFL will regulate the rule.
"It's really a tricky thing from the standpoint of, it's so well-intended," Garrett said. "We all understand the challenges that it puts the officials in. A lot of the defenseless player calls they've had to make over the last couple years are hard calls. The game happens fast, and they've got to be bang, 'He hit him with his head first; it wasn't his shoulder.' Players duck. All the things that go into making those snap judgments. They're difficult.
"I think the real concern that the coaches might have is simply that it's a hard rule to officiate, and far be it from us to say we understand what an official's going through. But the game does happen fast and those collisions happen quickly. I think it's well-intended."
The Cowboys said they are working with Murray to keep his head up.
I'm sorry, but Garrett's right about the rule's intentions and I'm just really annoyed about the reaction fans and especially running backs have had to this rule. I completely disagree with the notion that it will deprive the game or its running backs of any necessary physicality. I completely disagree with the notion that it will be a hard rule to officiate. The rule will penalize a running back's team 15 yards "if he initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players clearly are outside the tackle box." That's pretty doggone specific and will be really easy to spot. And the only thing it's telling running backs not to do is something that's incredibly dangerous for them and something no qualified coach has ever taught them to do at any level.
Murray can sit there and insist all he wants that he's still going to duck his head and try and use it to level defenders in the open field. That's his right, to say that. But if he does, it's going to result in 15-yard penalties for the Cowboys and quite honestly could result in a serious head, neck or spine injury for Murray himself someday. If he's telling you he doesn't care about that, then I guess that makes him a genuine NFL tough guy you're supposed to admire for his refusal to evolve as a sensible human being at the expense of excessive violence. Woo hoo. Forgive me if I don't applaud.