NFL Rule Change Displayed in Chargers-Cowboys Preseason Game (Not on the Kickoff)

Among the many rule changes in the NFL, the most discussed one has been about the new spot on kickoffs.

By putting the kicking tee on the 35-yard line as opposed to the 30, the rule change has resulted in more touchbacks. A downside to this rule change, as greatly discussed, has been that it has decreased the value of a kick returner.

In tonight's San Diego-Dallas exhibition game, however, there was another rule change that caught my attention.

With 12:47 left in the fourth quarter and the Chargers leading 17-7, the Cowboys had the ball on San Diego's 23-yard line. On third-and-1, Phillip Tanner ran 23 yards for a touchdown -- after his helmet got removed from his head by a defender.

Due to a rule change, stating that a runner is ruled down once his helmet is removed, the touchdown didn't count.

Tanner would have had his touchdown called back anyway because the Cowboys committed a five-yard illegal shift penalty. However, the play still caught my attention.

It caught my attention because it shows an unfair advantage that has been created as a result of the rule change. Now, a defender can essentially tackle an opponent with the mere act of taking off his helmet.

I am not arguing against the rule change. Obviously, players' safety is an important issue, and playing without a helmet is definitely unsafe.

And yanking a player's helmet by the facemask is still illegal.

However, it's a little unfair that a defender can tackle an opponent by yanking off his helmet via, for example, one of the earholes. It's something the NFL should look into.

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