The National Federatioin of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee recently approved 10 rules changes for next season, including three related to helmet safety.
From the NFHS's release:
An illegal personal contact foul was added to Rule 9-4-3 to state that “no player or nonplayer shall initiate contact with an opposing player whose helmet has come completely off.”
In addition, a new listing in Rule 9-6-4 will state that it is illegal participation “for a player whose helmet comes completely off during a down to continue to participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged.”
The committee also added language to Rule 3-5-10 to clarify that if the helmet comes completely off during the down or subsequent dead-ball action related to the down – and is not directly attributable to a foul by the opponent – the player must leave the game for at least one down, with the exception of halftime or overtime intermission. When this occurs, an official’s time-out shall be called.
“With its continued focus on risk minimization, the committee determined that a helmet-less player shall not block, tackle or otherwise participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged when the helmet came completely off,” Bob Colgate, NFHS director of sports and sports medicine, said in the release. “The penalty would be a live-ball, basic-spot foul.”
As I understand the new rules, a running back who has his helmet knocked off must stop running, but he need not worry about being hit, as it would be illegal for anyone to make contact with him. (Joe Flacco still might, depending on the situation.)
For all of the rules changes, visit NFHS.org.