Rice isn’t a fan of the NFL’s new rule on helmet hits, which states that ball carriers cannot initiate forcible contact by delivering a blow with the crown of his helmet outside the tackle box.
“I don’t like it,” Rice told BaltimoreRavens.com. “I’m just telling you right now, there’s not going to be a guy that’s going to be able to get a free lick on me and think it’s alright. I will defend my case, and I will defend myself as a runner.”
Rice understands the rule from a safety perspective, and said a runner who is lowering his helmet to deliver a hit while going out of bounds, for example, should be penalized.
But he doesn’t want to be wary of hunkering down to prepare to take contact.
“If I’m in the open field and you’re coming at me and I’m coming at you, and I lower my shoulder and I get flagged, I’ll appeal it,” Rice said.
“You’re going to protect yourself as a runner. Not one running back, you ask anyone in the league, not one is going to change their game. People are just going to have to deal with the consequences the first couple years.”
If a running back is simply protecting himself, as Rice said he would want to do, a penalty is not meant to be called. The rule is intended to eliminate dangerous attacks with the helmet.
Delivering a blow with the crown of his helmet is a 15-yard penalty, and the league did note that such hits could lead to fines and other escalating disciplinary action since the rule is intended as a safety measure.
“What about when running backs are getting held up and safeties are coming to nail you in the head? I don’t see that,” Rice said.
“I don’t like it, but at the same time I’m not one to complain. I feel like you either adapt to the change or you get weeded out.”
"It's crazy,” Leach said, “but I think we'll adjust to it and we'll overcome it.”