NFL makes safety-oriented rule changes
NFL owners Wednesday approved rule changes designed to make pro football safer, including an expansion of receiver helmet-to-helmet protection.
Rules concerning blindside blocks were also expanded and the so-called
wedge blocking scheme on kickoffs was abolished.
We don’t in any way try to pass rules for player safety that affect the game negatively, said Rich McKay, co-chairman of the NFL’s competition committee.
What we do is pass rules to try and make the game safer. Teams will adjust, coaches will adjust. The game will be just fine. We have to be proactive in dealing with player safety.
Any contact to the head of a defenseless pass catcher will now draw a 15-yard penalty. It was also ruled that the initial force of a blindside block cannot be delivered by a helmet, forearm or shoulder to the head or neck. An illegal blindside block will be penalized 15 yards.
On kickoffs, the kicking team cannot have more than five players bunched together to pursue an onsides kick. That would result in a 5-yard penalty, Also, no blocking wedge of more than two players will be allowed. A violation would bring a 15-yard penalty.
Another change allows for a video replay to determine if a loose ball is a fumble or an incomplete pass. That change came as the result of a controversial play involving Denver quarterback Jay Cutler’s fumble in the final seconds of a Week 2 contest with San Diego.
It was ruled an incomplete pass when replays showed it was a fumble. San Diego had recovered but, because the play was not reviewable, Denver was allowed to retain possession and later scored to win the game.