It's time for the NFL to establish a hit zone.
Every year the NFLs competition committee meets to try and make the game safer by defining new rules to protect its players. Unfortunately the final written rule is so complex that even the best interpretation is debated both on and off the field.
Take a moment and read Rule 12 Player Conduct, Section 2 Personal Fouls, Articles 8 & 9.
Welcome back. If you managed to read the whole PDF, I applaud you. If you are even more confused than when you started, don't worry I think the NFL as a whole is lost at this point too. So what is a legal hit? When is a player deemed defenseless? What constitutes a legal hit to the head? The failure of the interpretation of the rule is the failure of the author(s) responsible for its wording. A failure that could easily be cleared up with a simple graphic depicting what is an acceptable hit on all players just as the strike zone in baseball accommodates an entire league of players.
Major League Baseball (MLB) has just as much wording within their official rulebook as does the NFL, however the strike zone can be easily described as the area on a player between the numbers and knees. The enforcement of the zone is then left up to umpires officiating the game. For a player to argue a call is means for ejection. Simple. So simple that a graphic is all that is needed to understand the rule.
Now lets apply the same theory to the National Football League.
1) Any area above the chin strap would be considered an illegal hit.
2) Any hit from the below the chin to a player's mid thigh would be a clean, legal hit.
3) Hits below mid thigh must be made with the hands or arms only. Special consideration would need to be given to kickers and quarterbacks.
Most importantly these rules can be represented in a simple and clear graphic that players, coaches, fans and referees could easily understand. Final rulings would be up to the referees and as in the game of baseball further penalties could be enforced if a ruling is argued by the player(s) or coach(es).