March 18, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a press conference at the annual NFL meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Competition Committee to Address Player Safety Rule Changes


Oct 23, 2011; London, ENGLAND; General view of Wembley Stadium during the opening kickoff of the NFL International Series game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Chicago Bears. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

News on the wire is that the NFL Competition Committee is starting to propose the annual rule changes to make the game of football “better”. The theme of this year seems to be player safety, and honestly it is not a bad thing when they want to protect the players.

Back in December 2012, the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was interviewed by Time Magazine.

One idea that Goodell predicts will get more consideration: eliminating kickoffs. Fans may object to this rule change, since kickoffs produce thrilling returns. TIME sat in on meeting between Goodell and Rich McKay, head of the NFL’s powerful competition committee. Goodell brought up a proposal promoted by Greg Schiano, coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: after a touchdown or field goal, instead of kicking off, a team would get the ball on its own 30-yard line, where it’s fourth and 15. The options are either to go for it and try to retain possession, or punt. If you go for it and fall short, the opposing team would take over with good field position. In essence, punts would replace kickoffs, and punts are less susceptible to violent collisions than kickoffs. “The fact is,” Goodell says. “It’s a much different end of the play…It’s an off-the-wall idea. It’s different and makes you think differently. It did me.”

Now getting rid of the kickoff is one of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard. The kickoff is an important part of the game of football. It gives both teams the chance to battle for where possession of the ball will be. Just giving possession at the 30-yard line would change the dynamic of the game, especially late in games when teams are down by a field goal or a touchdown. It changes the strategy and honestly makes the game boring.

That being said, it doesn’t seem like the NFL is going that route yet. Here are the proposed rule changes that the Competition Committee will be voting on courtesy of nflevolution.com:

PROPOSED RULE: A ban on a ball carrier initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field or by a defender while making a tackle.

What the proposal would change: A 15-yard penalty would be called if a runner or a tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players clearly are outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle-to-tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or a tackler against an opponent would not be deemed a foul.

We have already heard from Matt Forte via Twitter about his opinions about this rule. Here is my opinion. It is nice to see that the Competition Committee trying to protect the defensive players, but this is really not the way. I agree with Matt Forte on this one. Matt tweeted:

In order to lower ur shoulder u obviously have to lower ur head. It’s a way of protecting ur self from a tackler and a way to break tackles

Remember that the runner is the one being tackled. They do have to protect themselves. I think that this one is not about player safety as much as it is about the defensive players complaining that the offense can duck their head and they can’t.

PROPOSED RULE: A ban of “peel-back” blocks inside the tackle-box area.

What the proposal would change: A 15-yard penalty will be called on a player who is aligned in the tackle box when the ball is snapped, then moves to a position outside the box and initiates contact on the side and below the waist against an opponent if: (a) the blocker is moving toward his own end line; and (b) he approaches the opponent from behind or from the side.

Now this is a rule I can stand behind. This rule will immediately protect the defensive players. I never understood the “peel-back” blocks or “chop” blocks that occur. I think that any block below the waist should be banned, not only to prevent knee injuries, but to keep lineman and tight-ends honest. If you miss your block, take it like a man. Don’t dive for the guys legs because you couldn’t do your job. You already failed, don’t take the chance of hurting the other player or making yourself look even more stupid when you are lying on the ground after you missed the low block as well.

PROPOSED RULE: A ban on teams overloading one side of the defensive line on point-after and field-goal attempts.

What the proposal would change: “During a field-goal attempt or a Try Kick: (1) No more than six Team B players may be on the line of scrimmage on either side of the snapper at the snap; Penalty: For illegal formation by the defense, loss of 5 yards from the previous spot. (2) Team B players not on the line of scrimmage at the snap cannot push players on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation. Penalty: For unnecessary roughness, loss of 15 yards from the previous spot.”

I don’t know about this rule. What is wrong with loading up one side or the other trying to block a kick? The NFL Committee is saying that after reviewing tape that there were lots of injuries. Okay, if they say there are a lot of injuries, I will believe them. I just think it is making kicking field goals and extra points too easy.

Out of these three rules, the one that makes the most sense to me has to be eliminating the chop blocks. If you are not allowed to dive at a quarterbacks legs, then you shouldn’t be able to dive at anybodies legs.

What do you think as an NFL fan? Do you like the proposed rule changes for players safety? What kind of rule changes would you like to see?

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Tags: Chicago Bears Matt Forte NFL Competition Committee