NFL HEALTH AND SAFETY UPDATE — FEBRUARY 20, 2013
NCAA Football Rules Committee approves strengthening of the penalty for high hits
Last week, the NCAA Football Rules Committee unanimously approved strengthening of the penalty for intentional above-the-shoulder hits.
If approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel next month, the infraction would result in a 15-yard penalty and automatic ejection of the player.
Troy Calhoun, chair of the committee and head coach at the Air Force Academy, said the committee wanted to address clear instances in which a defender is leading with the crown of his head to hit a defenseless player above the shoulders.
“Student-athlete safety will always be one of our primary concerns,” said Calhoun. “We all have a role to embrace when making a positive impact on our game. Taking measures to remove targeting, or above the shoulder hits on defenseless players, will improve our great sport.”
Under the proposed rule, if the foul occurs in the first half, the player is ejected for the remainder of the game. If the foul occurs in the second half or overtime, the player is ejected for the remainder of the game and the first half of the next game.
The rule would allow for the ejection portion of the penalty to be reviewed through video replay. The replay official must have conclusive evidence that the penalized player did not intentionally target a defenseless player in order to overturn the call on the field.
Similarly, in the NFL, Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7 of the 2012 NFL Rule Book (page 67) prohibits forcibly hitting a defenseless player’s head or neck area, forbids an attacking player from lowering his head and making forcible contact with the top/crown or forehead/”hairline” parts of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player’s body, and disallows launching-type hits into a defenseless opponent. A violation of this rule is a 15-yard penalty and, if an action is judged by the official(s) to be flagrant, the player may be disqualified.
To learn more about the NCAA’s proposed penalty, click here.
The NFL and NCAA held the third annual NFL-NCAA Coaches Academy earlier this month in Charlotte, N.C. Established in 2011 by NFL Player Engagement and the NCAA, this year’s program provided 60 coaches and coaching prospects, including 28 former NFL players, sessions to develop tools and contacts to aid their careers. Dr. Brian Hainline, Chief Medical Officer of the NCAA and Dr. John Lombardo, Independent Administrator for the NFL Policy and Procedures for Anabolic Steroids and Related Substance, addressed the participants on a variety of medical topics, including the management, diagnosis and treatment of concussions; medical research and developments; and drug and substance abuse awareness.
“Health and safety issues are not simply matters of concern for the athletic trainer or physician but should be interwoven into the fabric of a coach’s vision,” stated Dr. Hainline, a leading sports medicine advocate with more than two decades’ experience in the field. “Our intent is not to make coaches medical experts but rather to provide them with a good education about pertinent sport science and sports medicine issues so that they can better appreciate how to place the athlete in a context of both excellence and wellness.
“The NFL and NCAA have a special relationship that is very important to the sport of football and to all football participants. We learn from each other, we make each other better and we are both deeply concerned about the game of football and the football athlete.”
Dr. Hainline also announced the NCAA is launching a Concussion Task Force, which will meet in April, as reported by the SportsBusiness Daily. The group’s goal is to best define what is known and unknown about concussions and how to advance areas of need.
“It’s not a group of scientists who want to just protect football, it’s a group of scientists who really are concerned about human beings and what this game is about and what life is about,” Dr. Hainline said.
Concussion research funded by the NFL Foundation
A recent article from KLEW-TV highlighted research into concussion treatment that is taking place at Washington State University. The work, led by WSU assistant professor and neuroscientist Krzysztof Czaja, is funded in part by the NFL Foundation medical grant program. In 2012, the NFL Foundation awarded Czaja $100,000 to support his work on how to treat brain damage caused by concussions. Specifically, Czaja is looking at how to create new neurons that would, in theory, assist a brain in healing following a concussion.
– NFL Communications