The NFL has passed a new “helmet rule,” preventing runners from leading with the crown of their helmet as they make contact with a defender outside the tackle box. While many like Marshall Faulk and Eric Dickerson have spoken out against it, current player and Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson has been used as the example of what not to do.
But Trent Richardson knows how to play football one way. And he isn’t about to learn another way.
“I agree with making the NFL more safer for the players and stuff, but just the way I run, that’s not going to stop me at all,” Richardson said on ESPN Radio in Cleveland, via Sports Radio Interviews. “I’m going to do what I’ve always done and that’s the only way I know. I’ve been doing that since [my] youth. I’ve been doing that since I was 6 years old, and you can’t switch up the way you’ve been playing for 17 years. … I just can’t switch that up, and that’s something that’s always going to be embedded in me.”
“I try not to lead with my head like that but if somebody’s up high to me that’s what they’re going to get. I try to get low and they’re telling us now that we can’t lead with our head with space in open field? I’m not gonna try to do it, but if it happens it happens. I’m just gonna have to be the guy to get a lot of penalties.”
It makes you wonder though how his coaches will react if penalties are piling up and negating big runs, or how strict the referees will call it.
But the point Richardson is making is that ball carriers have been trained to carry and run a certain way for years, get low, push forward, and now they’re expected to run upright into a tackler and gently fall with them? You’re fighting instinct.
“It’s a natural reaction, and it’s really just us trying to protect ourselves,” Richardson said. “And I agree with Roger Goodell trying to make the NFL more safer, but for us as runners it’s kind of hard for us not to make ourselves safer. Ducking the head — that’s kind of tough on our end to just stop doing that. That’s just a natural reaction.”
But defensive players have been expected to do it and comply, so there is a way.
“I kind of understand how defensive players feel now. … We can complain all we want, man, but rules are rules. And it’s kind of crazy for us that we’ve gotta try to change up our style now. For some guys like me and Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice, a lot of guys that like to run people over, that’s all we know.”
And kudos to Richardson for disagreeing but saying he agrees with Goodell repeatedly to avoid being fined.