NFL sends new enforcement policy to teams, players
The NFL officially notified teams and players Wednesday of its plan to more strictly enforce its rules prohibiting dangerous, illegal hits during games.
According to a written announcement by the league, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to the teams accompanied by a message and a video showing examples of legal and illegal hits. Each team's head coach is to show the video and read the message to assistant coaches and players, the league announced.
Teams were notified that the league intends to impose tougher disciplinary measures, including possible suspensions for even first offenses, on players for illegal hits to the head or neck of an opponent.
The message that is to be read to players and coaches says that coaches and teams that fail to teach proper techniques to players also are subject to potential discipline.
"One of our most important priorities is protecting our players from needless injury," Goodell said in a written statement released by the league. "In recent years, we have emphasized minimizing contact to the head and neck, especially where a defenseless player is involved. It is clear to me that further action is required to emphasize the importance of teaching safe and controlled techniques, and of playing within the rules. It is incumbent on all of us to support the rules we have in place to protect players."
According to the league's announcement, the message that is to be read to players and coaches says this:
"One of our highest priorities is player safety. We all know that football is a tough game that includes hard contact. But that carries with it an obligation to do all that we can to protect all players from unnecessary injury caused by dangerous techniques from those who play outside the rules.
"The video shown today shows what kind of hits are against the rules, but also makes clear that you can play a hard, physical game within the rules.
"Violations of the playing rules that unreasonably put the safety of another player in jeopardy have no place in the game, and that is especially true in the case of hits to the head and neck. Accordingly, from this point forward, you should be clear on the following points:
1. Players are expected to play within the rules. Those who do not will face increased discipline, including suspensions, starting with the first offense.
2. Coaches are expected to teach playing within the rules. Failure to do so will subject both the coach and the employing club to discipline.
3. Game officials have been directed to emphasize protecting players from illegal and dangerous hits, and particularly from hits to the head and neck. In appropriate cases, they have the authority to eject players from a game."
October 20, 2010; 7:47 PM ET
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