PHOENIX (AP) — The NFL believes it made pro football safer, particularly for defensive players, with rule changes passed at the owners meetings.
Team owners on Wednesday barred ball carriers from using the crown of their helmets to make forcible contact with a defender in the open field. The previous day, they eliminated the peel-back block everywhere on the field.
“This meeting is primarily about evaluating our rules both from a safety standpoint and what we think we can do to improve and make the game better,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We made some very significant progress on both of those fronts.”
The second significant player safety rule passed this week came with much debate — and some criticism, naturally, from running backs. Several coaches and team executives expressed concern about officiating the new rule, but Goodell championed it and it passed 31-1. Cincinnati voted no.
But if it was good enough for football’s greatest running back, NFL owners figure, it should work in the 21st century.
“Jim Brown never lowered his head,” Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney said with a smile. “It can be done.”
The changes were the latest involving safety, and head injuries in particular, with the issue receiving heightened attention amid hundreds of lawsuits filed by former players claiming that the NFL did not do enough to prevent concussions in years past. League officials have defended the NFL’s record and did so again Wednesday.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.