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There’s good news as it comes to that largely useless video posted by NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron regarding the new rule against lowering the helmet and making contact with an opponent: It’s been revised both to ditch the Commodore 64 graphics and, more importantly, to add animation that highlights which player is or isn’t complying with the rule.

Here’s the bad news: It still lacks narration or explanation, making it only slightly less useless than it was. (It’s not clear why Riveron didn’t simply do a video that includes his explanation as to why a given play is or isn’t a foul.)

Here’s my quick assessment of the six plays shown on the video, with the first three not a foul and the last three examples of a violation.

In the first play not involving a foul, Rams safety Steven Parker closes in to make a form tackle. As he approaches the ball carrier, Parker LOWERS HIS HELMET. If the ball carrier had shifted slightly to his right (Parker’s left), Parker would have struck the opponent with the lowered helmet, and it would have been a foul.

In the second, Jets safety J.J. Wilcox approaches the Falcons receiver and Wilcox instinctively LOWERS HIS HELMET. Wilcox actually makes contact against the receiver with the helmet. So why wasn’t it a foul? As the grossly broad lowering-the-helmet rule is written, it should have been.

In the third, Jets cornerback Jeremy Clark makes a form tackle on a kickoff return. Just before impact, Clark LOWERS HIS HELMET. Clark manages to deliver the blow without making contact against the opponent with Clark’s helmet.

As to the two situations that clearly aren’t fouls, the outcome is driven more by happenstance than technique. Basically, Parker and Clark got lucky, in that the opponent didn’t move into the path of the lowered helmet. If they had, it would have been a foul, based on the manner in which the rule is written.

In the first play showing a violation, a Rams defender chases down a ball carrier and, at the point of impact, instinctively dips his helmet and makes contact. Technically, it’s a foul. But what was the player supposed to do differently? There will be many plays in which the defender won’t be able to square up and make a form tackle. If what the defender did in that case is a foul, what could he have done that wouldn’t have been a foul — other than sprint down the field and circle back in the hopes of maybe being able to approach him from the front?

In the second play, Browns tight end Orson Charles goes in motion from right to left before the snap, then goes back to the right and delivers a block that seals the path to the ball carrier. Charles instinctively lowers his helmet and seems to make contact with the helmet against the Giants defender Charles is trying to block. Again, what could he have done differently, other than collide with the defender while standing straight up, and in turn been blown up by the lower man? (An arguably more obviously foul appears on that play, when Giants defensive back Orion Stewart, wearing No. 45, performs a head-down lunge into the ball carrier while he is being tackled.)

The third play represents a mirror image of the second one, with a Saints player moving left to right to block Jaguars defensive lineman Lyndon Johnson, who lowers his helmet just before colliding with the blocker. It happens quickly, but it definitely appears to be a violation of both the letter and the spirit of the rule; Johnson could have at least tried to move his helmet to the side instead of putting his helmet in the blocker’s stomach.

Bottom line? The rule continues to be far too broad, its application will far too often be driven by chance and randomness, and it’s becoming far too late to implement a meaningful fix that requires the blow to be forcible and that carves out any incidental contact that happens while the tackler or blocker is attempting to deliver a hit without making contact with the helmet.

In 22 days, this rule will be applied to games that count.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Panthers will not be punished for their handling of Cam Newton’s injury during a playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints on Jan. 7.

The NFL and the Players Association announced Wednesday that Carolina’s medical staff correctly followed concussion protocol guidelines. The league released a statement Wednesday saying it reviewed game footage and medical reports, as well as statements and interviews with Newton and coach Ron Rivera, before making its determination that “there was no protocol violation.”
After walking off the field with a second-half eye injury, Newton stumbled to the ground near the sideline when asked by trainers to take a knee.

The league said they believe that stumble was caused by a previous knee injury.

The NFL said the league’s 2015 MVP had an MRI on Jan. 8 that “confirmed ligament and cartilage damage and very extensive swelling in the knee.”

Panthers interim general manager Marty Hurney told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Newton will not need surgery on the knee.

Newton sat out one play, but returned on the next offensive series and finished the game.

Hurney said on Jan. 8 that Newton intentionally took a knee because he was told to by the team’s training staff so Carolina could get an official timeout, thus allowing backup quarterback Derek Anderson a little more time to warm up on the sideline.

Anderson came in for one third-down play and threw an incompletion.

“He took a hit,” Hurney said of Newton. “But when he walked off and he told the trainers he got poked in the eye, then they did take him into the tent and checked him for a concussion, which he did not have. And it was really getting poked in the eye.”

Up for debate in the investigation was whether Newton should have been taken to the locker room for evaluations.

The league and the players union changed its concussion protocol in December after Texans quarterback Tom Savage returned to the field after having a concussion that left the quarterback’s hands shaking following a hit.

The changes to the protocol include the requirement of a locker room concussion evaluation for all players “demonstrating gross or sustained vertical instability (e.g., stumbling or falling to the ground when trying to stand.)”

Newton did not visit the locker room.

Newton said after the team’s loss to the Saints that “it wasn’t my head. It was my eye. My helmet had come down low enough over my eyelid and it got pressed by the player’s stomach.”

“Our review of all of the facts do not support a claim of inappropriate medical care,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement. “Mr. Newton was immediately evaluated for a concussion and cleared by the team physician and unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant.”

The Seattle Seahawks were fined $100,000 in Week 10 after the league and union determined they failed to apply the concussion protocol properly after quarterback Russell Wilson took a blow to the head against the Arizona Cardinals.