BALITMORE (CBS Baltimore/AP) — Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice doesn’t plan on changing how he plows into defenders despite the new rule change.
The Super Bowl champion tells NFL.com that he will still lower his helmet into a defensive player even though owners ruled last month to bar ball carriers from using the crown of their helmet to make forcible contact with a defender in the open field.
“I don’t like it,” Rice told NFL.com. “I’m just telling you right now, there’s not going to be a guy that’s going to be able to get a free lick on me and think it’s all right. I will defend my case, and I will defend myself as a runner.”
Rice — who ran for 1,143 yards and 9 touchdowns last season — says he will do anything to protect himself while on the field.
“If I’m in the open field and you’re coming at me and I’m coming at you, and I lower my shoulder and I get flagged, I’ll appeal it,” Rice said. “You’re going to protect yourself as a runner. Not one running back, you ask anyone in the league, not one is going to change their game. People are just going to have to deal with the consequences the first couple years.”
The player safety rule passed last month to help protect defensive players came with much debate. Several coaches and team executives expressed concern about officiating the new rule, but Commissioner Roger Goodell championed it and it passed 31-1. Cincinnati voted no.
Goodell was eager to get approved the competition committee’s proposal to outlaw use of the crown of the helmet by ball carriers, and there was talk the vote would be tabled until May if the rule change didn’t have enough support.
But after watching videos of the play that clearly showed the differences in legal and illegal moves by ball carriers, the owners voted yes — and then applauded the decision, something Rams coach Jeff Fisher said is “rare.”
“We had discussions with the players association and the players themselves, the coaches’ subcommittee,” said Fisher, co-chairman of the competition committee. “A lot of people talked to us about this rule and how to roll it out in our game.”
The penalty will be 15 yards from the spot of the foul, and if the offensive and defensive players both lower their heads and use the crown of the helmet to make contact, each will be penalized.
“It’ll certainly make our runners aware of what we expect relative to use of the helmet,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “One of the questions I ask a lot is who gains from this, offense or defense? And it’s a toss-up as to which side of the ball has the advantage on this rule, if any. The main thing is it’s pro-health and safety, and that’s the big thing.”
The owners discussed simply using fines on ball carriers to eliminate the tactic, but instead voted to make the rule change.
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