Richard Sherman, Josh Norman blast NFL for new helmet rule

The NFL is catching heat from its players on the new “lowering the helmet” rule.

Richard Sherman and Josh Norman, two of the league’s most high-profile and hard-hitting cornerbacks, are among those who ripped the new rule, which was approved by the owners unanimously on Tuesday.

The rule states it is a foul if a player lowers his head and initiates contact with his helmet and will result in a 15-yard penalty. The player may also be disqualified.

The goal of the new rule is meant to protect players and reduce concussions but Sherman believes it will result in more injuries.

“It’s ridiculous,” the 49ers corner told USA Today. “Like telling a driver if you touch the lane lines, you’re getting a ticket. (It’s) gonna lead to more lower-extremity injuries.”

Sherman has defended helmet-first hits in the past, too.

When Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was concussed by a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jaguars safety Barry Church in the AFC Championship game, Sherman defended the hit.

See the controversial hit:

“The hit on Gronk is the only way Church could have done his job without just obliterating Gronks knee,” he tweeted at the time. “If he would have just hit him low most ppl would calm (sic) him dirty. So there is nothing he can do to make veryone happy and do his job. Unless you think he should let him catch.”

Norman pointed out that enforcing the rule would be almost impossible and that contact with the helmet in football is unavoidable.

“I don’t know how you’re going to play the game,” he said. “If your helmet comes in contact? How are you going to avoid that if you’re in the trenches and hit a running back, facemask to facemask and accidentally graze the helmet? It’s obviously going to happen. So, I don’t know even what that definition looks like.”

NFL Commissioner attempted to explain the rules change on Wednesday as the league wrapped up its annual owners meeting in Orlando.

“Our focus is how to take the head out of the game and make sure we’re using the helmet as protection, and it’s not being used as a weapon,” he said. “That’s the core of what we’re focused on, and I think we made a tremendous amount of progress ont hat this week.

“There’s still a great deal of communication and education that still needs to take place. We’ll be doing that over the next 90 days including going to each club, having players, coaches, medical staff, all hands on deck at each club to go through the changes.”

Related: See inside the NFL meetings: