Home » NFL General » 15 yd. penalty on Cribbs: Lowering the crown.

15 yd. penalty on Cribbs: Lowering the crown.

As you can see in the thumbnail, Cribbs lowers the crown of his helmet before having it taken off by Ellerbe’s STILL LEGAL hit.  Thus on top of being knocked unconscious for ten minutes, Cribbs costs his team fifteen yards for the personal foul of ‘Lowering the crown.’


‘Cribbs has the ball.’  ‘Ellerbe targets his head with his shoulder.’ = LEGAL.

Cribbs lowers crown of helmet. = ILLEGAL.


Think that’s an outlier? Au contraire, mon frere. Here is another shoulder hit. This particular hit gets flagged under the ‘defenseless receiver’ rule. But if Jordan Shipley had managed to take a step with the ball he’d be considered fair game.


Great job NFL.

As has been said here before:

“… the solution couldn’t be easier: you can either make targeting heads illegal or require players to sign waivers accepting that they’ll have some level of brain damage after leaving the game.”

For more on my take on the NFL and head injuries, see this post.


Edited to add (3/22):  Here is a rules committee honk telling us this is rule change is not about litigation protection.



  1. dan says:

    I think you’re misreading the rule. As is stated in the article you link to: “We know there is going to be helmet-to-helmet contact,” Fisher said. “The running back has an opportunity to protect the football, lower the head, lower the shoulder, as long as he doesn’t load up and strike with the top of the helmet.”
    Cribbs isn’t initiating contact by striking with the crown of his helmet, so this wouldn’t be a foul.

    • jimkanicki says:

      i think youre misreading my post. here’s the point, the headline i maybe shouldve gone with:

      ‘NFL pays more lip-service to player safety by implementing ineffective rule change.’

      would the play in the video above be a penalty on cribbs? well technically his crown _is_ lowered and he _is_ outside the tackle box. we dont really have to worry about our interpretation of the rules on this, though, because you can be sure as shit mike mayock will be there to tell us whether or not it should be a 15 yd penalty while cribbs is unconscious on the field.

      as though that’s what’s important.

      net, net; after the owners’ meeting rules changes: the hit to cribbs head is still legal, right? because cribbs has the ball, right? thus the ‘crown lowering’ rule is superficial bullshit that pays lip service to addressing head injuries without addressing head injuries, right?

      that’s what i’m trying to say here.

  2. When the rule change was announced, all I could think of was Usama Young knocking himself out last season. Normally, I would cite some compassion thinking that these players are going to be brain dead in 20 years, but in some cases you can’t fight stupid.

    Ed. note: is this what yer thinking of?

    • jimkanicki says:

      well there’s THAT stupid but i’m railing against the other stupid.

      nfl rule changes always feel like they came out of a committee loaded with sloan analytics mbas, nike suits, bob-sugar-type agents, espn execs, and darren rovell: basically anyone who is interested in sport for the wrong reasons.

      cant you just see these nobs sitting around a conference table? ‘we’re gonna get sued. how can we address head injuries without enacting a rule that acknowledges past culpability?’

      how else to explain these rules that still fail address hits like the one in the video? it _could_ be that theyre stupid, thats the charitable view. but it’s more probable that theyre focused #1 on milking those network contracts to the max for the next decade until plagues of mesothelioma lawyers descend on the owners with CTE lawsuits.

      • I’ve always (for at least two years, that is) that the ONLY reason for these rule changes are just mere lip service in response to the damaging reality that former players’ brains are badly damaged. And you’re right about the “milking of the contracts.”

        Depending on your level of conspiracy nut, you should check out the Simmons podcast with Don Van Natta from a few weeks ago. The cover story on Goodell is also worth it. In the podcast, Van Natta mentions how DeMaurice Smith basically thinks Goodell wants to keep the game violent in order to reduce the league’s future pension liability. More head injuries=shorter careers=not on the hook for as many pensions.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Don’t dip your head.”

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