Earlier Wednesday, we discussed the hit that has cost Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic $21,000 in NFL fines. As you recall, Bostic hit San Diego Chargers receiver Mike Willie with the top of his helmet to dislodge a potential completed pass.
In live action, the hit looked like countless others we've witnessed in football and seen celebrated on highlight shows and by NFL Films. But the NFL found Bostic in violation of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7 (b2), which bars a player from "lowering the head and making forcible contact with the top/crown or forehead/'hairline' parts of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player's body."
Because the ruling doesn't pass our amateur smell test, I thought it was fair to relay a response from the NFL's vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino. In this NFL Network appearance, Blandino was asked what Bostic should have done differently to ensure it was a legal hit under NFL rules.
Here is what Blandino said:
"The Bostic hit is illegal because he used the crown of his helmet to deliver a forcible blow to the body of the receiver. For this hit to be legal, he has to get the helmet to the side and use the shoulder to deliver the blow, or hit the receiver with his head up. Those are the two techniques that we are trying to get back in the game. So using the crown to deliver the blow to the body, that is a foul when you're talking about a hit on a defenseless player."
As we discussed earlier, the NFL is moving away, with all available speed, from anything resembling contact with or to the head. Instead, as Blandino said, it would prefer players hit with the shoulder. If leading with the head is unavoidable, the player must have his head up so that contact is to the face and with the facemask rather than the crown of the helmet. Welcome to the new world order.