During their meeting in Orlando this week, and following much embarrassing publicity last year, National Football League officials made some key changes in their safety rules. http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/03/25/sports/AP-FBN-NFL-Meetings.html?_r=1
Some of the rules passed Wednesday are aimed at protecting “defenseless” players, as the Associated Press described them, such as ball carriers who lose their helmets during action on the field.
One of the changes is that a “defenseless” player can’t be struck in the neck or head area by a rival who uses his shoulder, helmet or forearm to make contact, according to AP. Before, such tackles were prohibited against receivers who couldn’t protect themselves, but now they apply to and protect all players.
The rules changes made by the NFL also include one that mirrors college safety measures. Now in the NFL, if a player running with the football loses his helmet, the game will immediately be stopped, with the ball set at the spot where the helmet came off.
Even umpires are getting more protection under the new rules. Umpires will now be placed behind the offensive backfield, not the linebackers’ area. That change was made because NFL officials had seen “a hundred” examples of umpires being runover.
The National Hockey League also came closer to making more stringent safety rules, in terms of head injuries. It appears likely that hockey officials will impose punishments for blind-side checks to the head effective immediately, not at the start of next season, according to The New York Times Thursday.