File:US Navy 071201-N-6463B-543 Navy Quarter Back Troy Gross (14) gets sacked by a blitzing Army defender at the 108th annual Army vs. Navy football game at M^T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD.jpg

For football head to head contact is smashing between the helmets of two players with a high degree of force. Such collisions are hazardous due to the high risk of injury they present, and intentionally causing them is banned in most leagues. Possible injuries include concussions, spinal cord injuries, and even death. Helmet manufacturers are given the responsibility to make helmets as best as possible to protect against injuries from such collisions.[1]

Major football leagues such as the NFL and NCAA have taken a tougher stance on helmet-to-helmet collisions since US Congress has launched an investigation into the effects of repeated concussions typically suffered by football players.[2]

Many players criticize bans on helmet-to-helmet collisions on the basis that gridiron football is a game that is supposed to be composed of the world's biggest and best athletes, and placing such restrictions "waters down" the game.[3]

An image of two helmets colliding and smashing had been presented on Monday Night Football for more than 20 years. This was removed in 2006, as a crackdown began on such activity. The NFL also ordered Toyota Motor Company to stop using such footage in its advertisements.[4]

Rules by leagueEdit

  • Helmet-to-helmet hits are banned in the NFL, with a penalty of 15 yards for violations. In 2010, the NFL placed its policies pertaining to these incidents under review, considering heavy fines and suspensions.[4] In addition to prohibiting these hits during actual play, the NFL does not allow the sale of these hits on its site in hopes of reducing them.
  • The Canadian Football League prohibits the use of the helmet to butt, ram, or spear an opponent. Players are penalized for what is not deemed to be an 'acceptable' football play.[5]
  • In the NCAA, helmet-to-helmet collisions have been banned for years, but they were illegal only when intentional. In 2005, the NCAA took the word "intentional" out of the rules in hopes of reducing these incidents even further.[6]

Notable helmet to helmet collisionsEdit

  • Former Carolina Panthers running back Eric Shelton sued the NFL in 2010, alleging that a helmet-to-helmet collision caused him a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed, and he was not appropriately compensated for his injuries.[7]
  • In 2011, a Frostburg State player died from a helmet-to-helmet collision.[8]
  • On October 17, 2011, a 16-year-old high school football player in Homer, New York died from bleeding in the brain suffered from a helmet-to-helmet collision. [9]
  • On December 13, 2011, the NFL suspended Steelers linebacker James Harrison for one game for a helmet-to-helmet hit that caused Browns quarterback Colt McCoy to suffer a concussion. It was the first time the NFL ever suspended anyone for this violation. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he chose to suspend Harrison because it was his fifth such hit in three years. The suspension cost Harrison $215,000 in salary.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. Garrett, Melanie. Under His Helmet: A Football Devotional. p. 23.
  2. Gill, Sam (October 27, 2010). "Helmet-to-helmet hypocrisy: NFL, NCAA blame football players - when the problem is football programs" (in English). New York Daily News. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  3. Gregory, Sean (Oct. 22, 2010). "Can Football Finally Tackle Its Injury Problem?" (in English). Time Magazine.,8599,2027053,00.html. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Thomas, Katie (October 21, 2010). "N.F.L.’s Policy on Helmet-to-Helmet Hits Makes Highlights Distasteful" (in English). New York Times. Retrieved 9 December 2011.
  5. Bucholtz, Andrew. "Concussions: the CFL's rules and the impact on defensive players" (in English). Yahoo Sports. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  6. Nowinski, Christopher. Head games: football's concussion crisis from the NFL to youth leagues. pp. 104–05.
  7. Schwartz, Allan (November 29, 2010). "Ex-Player Is Suing Over Pay for Injury" (in English). New York Times. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  8. Quigley, Rachel (September 15, 2011). "Another young footballer dies from brain injury after helmet-to-helmet collision" (in English). MailOnlineNews (CBS news). Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  9. Eliasoph, Jeff (October 17, 2011). "16 year old football player killed by helmet to helmet contact" (in English). KWWL News. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  10. Klemko, Robert (Dec 13, 2011). "Steelers LB James Harrison suspended one game" (in English). USA Today. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
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