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NFL Owners Adopt New Rules Designed To Increase Player Safety

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Well, at least we're not completely devoid of actual news today. 

The NFL's 32 team owners met today and passed a number of amendments designed to increase player safety. Many of the amendments involve expanding definitions around hits against defenseless players. Yahoo Sports says:

The NFL began a crackdown on illegal hits, particularly those to defenseless players, last October. It threatened suspensions, but no players were suspended. However, Ray Anderson, the league's chief disciplinarian, has said suspensions will be considered for egregious hits this season.

Now, the clubs are being put on notice as well as the players that illegal hits will result in substantial discipline.

Let's review what changes were made.

Players cannot launch themselves into a defenseless opponent. "A 15-yard penalty will result for anyone who leaves both feet before contact to spring forward and upward into an opponent and delivers a blow to the helmet with any part of his helmet."

The definition of a defenseless receiver has been extended. "Now, a receiver who has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a runner even if both feet are on the ground is considered defenseless."

The definition of a defenseless player has been extended. "The definition of such players now includes those throwing a pass; attempting or completing a catch without having time to ward off or avoid contact; a runner whose forward progress has been stopped by a tackler; kickoff or punt returners while the ball is in the air; kickers or punters during a kick or a return; a quarterback during a change of possession; a player who receives a blindside block from a blocker moving toward his own end zone."

The QB "helmet touch" penalty rule has been eliminated. "Hits to the head of a passer that are not considered 'forcible' blows will not be penalized."

Okay, I'm completely behind the last rule which basically eliminates the ticky-tack "hits" that defensive players find it impossible to avoid against an opposing quarterback. 

But....it seems to me that these new rules will eliminate many of the big hits we're used to seeing in the NFL. The way I read the rules, there won't be any more big time kickoff/punt return hits on a player receiving the ball. 

I don't see how these new rules won't affect the mentality of defensive players when they're about to make a hit. Remember when the NFL cracked down on these violations last season and the next week saw the highest scoring week in NFL football in years?

I wouldn't be surprised if these new rule changes are motivated partly by wanted to increase scoring in the NFL. 

Thoughts on the rule tweaks?