Over the weekend I posted a video to YouTube detailing my frustration with the ending of the Saturday night's Wild Card Playoff game between the Pittsbugh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals.

In it, I said wasn't totally sold on the penalty of Vontaze Burfict for his hit to defenseless receiver Antonio Brown. I was wrong. That is a penalty, and should be called. He's now been suspended for the first 3 games of next season.

But, let me clarify my stance.

If you watched the entire game you surely saw Pittsburgh's Ryan Chazier lead with the crown of his helmet to the head of Cincinnati's Gio Bernard - which resulted in Bernard being instantly rendered unconscious. Here's what I failed to say in trying to make my point: If Chazier's hit wasn't a penalty, how, in the closing seconds of a playoff game, with everything on the line, do the officials throw a penalty flag on Burfict? In other words, why this one and not the other.

The NFL "safety" rules the league has been implementing are specifically designed to protect players from severe head injury.

I'm not saying anytime someone gets a concussion I believe a flag should be thrown. But, this particular case was blatant and seems to directly contradict what the league is attempting to do, prevent severe head injury.

While Bernard is not a defenseless receiver on the play I'm questioning, THERE IS an NFL rule about leading with the crown of one's helmet, despite the fact that neither 'expert; former NFL official turned rules analyst Mike Carey, nor Phil Simms seem to know the rules. Via NFL.com, daing back to the start of the 2013 NFL season:

NEW RULE: A ban on a ball carrier initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field or by a defender while making a tackle.

What the rule changes: A 15-yard penalty will be called if a runner or a tackler 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 (an area extending from tackle-to-tackle and from 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team's end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or a tackler against an opponent would not be deemed a foul.

Why the change was made: The NFL is trying to avoid concussions at all costs, so this rule will make it illegal for players to use their helmets as weapons. Using the helmet on hits against receivers already is illegal, so this is the next logical step.

It states that neither ball carriers, nor tacklers should lead with the crown of their helmet. I've heard on talk radio that refs often don't call the crown of the helmet penalty. I surmise it is for this reason - leading with the crown does not necessarily mean one or both players will wind up with head injuries. If you lead with the crown to an opponents chest, shoulder, ribs, thighs, heck if you dove at his ankles head first it doesn't really meet the intent of the league's rule to prevent serious brain injuries. But in this case, Chazier all but teed up Bernard, led with his crown and did so to Bernard's head and neck area. It resulted in Bernard being concussed and momentarily knocked out.

How is that not a penalty? In my opinion it is.

Selective enforcement of protective rules only allows for further brain injuries, while also confusing players, coaches and fans as to what the rules actually are.

Here is my original video:

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