Michael Thomas, the former Miami Dolphins defensive back and special teams ace who is now with the New York Giants, has a lot of feelings about the NFL's new defensive rule change.
In simplest terms: He's not a fan.
"We've been the step-child and now it's even more impossible," Thomas said Thursday morning on WQAM's Joe Rose Show. "What more can you know ask us to do and continue to play this game the way it's supposed to be played?"
Under the new rule, which was approved at the league owners meeting in late March, players will be penalized 15 yards and potentially ejected from the game if they lower their head and make contact with their helmet.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
"It just seems that players at every level are getting more comfortable playing with their helmets as a weapon rather than a protective device," NFL competition chairman Rich McKay said at the time, according to ESPN. "Therefore, we need a rule that is broad and puts that in context, and that's what we think this does."
While Thomas, 29, said he never intend to intentionally hurt another player, he nevertheless feels this rule change provides a staunch advantage to the offense.
"The name of the game — and you've been taught this since you were a little kid — is low man wins," Thomas said. "So if I'm going to make a tackle, a full-speed decision, I've already broke, the receiver or running back, let's say they already have the ball in their hands, if they turn up and see me ... their whole body's going to drop and I have to get low in order to create leverage and use power from the ground and complete the tackle. How are they going to officiate that?"
Thomas also touched on a few of the NFL's other new policies and rule changes. Among them:
▪ The response to the league's new national anthem policy, which requires players to either stand on the sideline or remain in the locker room during the national anthem.
While Thomas, who knelt on the sidelines last season, didn't directly speak on the new policy, he noted the positives that can come out of the players' response.
An example close to home: the Dolphins' creation of the Project Change college scholarship, which is awarded to one deserving student each year committed to enacting social justice change. The Dolphins on June 13 announced that Valicia Ross, who graduated from Olympic Heights in West Palm Beach and will be attending Florida State, was the inaugural schoalrship winner.
"I'm not able to ask them to create this scholarship program if this movement was never started," Thomas said. "There are, even though they are small victories, there are things that are coming out of this that are positive. We've just got to keep doing things like that in our community to make real change.
▪ The league's new kickoff rules. Thomas said he is OK with most of the new rules to be implemented. The one change he disagreed with is the new wedge rule, which now bans players from coming together to double block.
"Taking away that wedge, it takes away that fourth or fifth d-end, or fourth or fifth d-tackle, or that seventh or eighth offensive lineman who's trying to make the team," Thomas said. "They're less valuable now because they're not going to be able to play on kickoffs."