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Old 03-18-2009, 11:53 PM   #1
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Default NFL rule changes put safety first

NFL rule changes put safety first
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...s_616767.html#

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rich McKay, a co-chairman of the NFL's competition committee, said a proposed rule change that league owners will vote on next week does not target Hines Ward.

The kind of block that the Steelers' wide receiver laid on Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers last season, however, will become illegal if one of the new rules designed to protect players is passed.

Among the changes that will be enacted if it gets approval of 24 of the 32 owners who meet next week in Dana Point, Calif., is one that would prohibit helmet-to-helmet contact on blind-side blocks.

Ward broke Rivers' jaw while making a crack-back block last October. Ward, who has drawn the ire of opposing players and fans for his aggressive blocking style, did not get penalized on the play.

"We're trying to advance safety," NFL executive vice president of field operations Ray Anderson said during a conference call. "So, going forward, that would be a flagged play."

McKay said the suggested change in the rules came about after the league and the competition committee made a comprehensive review of game tapes from recent seasons.

"I don't think we focused on Hines' block at all to change the rules," said McKay, who is also president of the Falcons.

"It's not just one or two plays, and we get emotional about it," Anderson added.

Four of the seven changes put forth by the competition committee involve player safety, including one that aims to provide added protection for wide receivers.

If it passes, it would prohibit defenders from launching themselves at receivers that have not established position on the ground and are deemed defenseless by officials. Under current NFL rules, only helmet-to-helmet contact with defenseless receivers is not permitted.

Two hits by Steelers free safety Ryan Clark that did not draw penalties last season one against Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker and another on Ravens running back Willis McGahee in the AFC Championship Game would likely become illegal if the proposed change to the rules is made.

One change that won't come about at the owners' meetings involves the current sudden-death overtime format. Commissioner Roger Goodell had said before the Super Bowl that the competition committee would look into decreasing the advantage a team that gets the ball first in overtime has.

According to the NFL, teams that won the coin flip before overtime won 66.7 percent of the time and scored on their first possession 46.7 percent of the time.

McKay said such numbers concerned him, but he added the overtime format will not be on the agenda at the owners' meetings for a simple reason: There is overwhelming sentiment across the board to stay the course with overtime.

Said Anderson on the players' response to keep the format as it is: "I was a little surprised they were as strong about it as they were."

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 03-19-2009, 12:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: NFL rule changes put safety first

Ward's hit may bring change
Blindside blocks could draw flag
Thursday, March 19, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09078/956738-66.stm

The NFL changed a rule more than 30 years ago that became known as the Mel Blount Rule, and now Hines Ward might have one to call his own as well.

A rule to eliminate a blindside block to the head of a defender will be proposed at the league meetings, which begin Sunday in Dana Point, Calif.

Those proposing the rule acknowledged yesterday that Ward's block in October, which broke the jaw of rookie Cincinnati linebacker Keith Rivers, was among the plays reviewed when they drew it up.

"It's one of several plays we looked at, that's correct," said Ray Anderson, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations. "Under this year's rules, that was a legal hit but we're trying to advance our player safety ... and that would be a flag play."

By that, Anderson meant that the hit raised a flag as to the new rules proposal, and even after viewing it on film they were not sure if Ward's would be a legal hit or not if the new rule passes.

The proposal, according to Anderson and competition committee co-chair Rich McKay, is to try to eliminate or penalize any helmet-to-helmet contact that occurs on a blindside block.

"We have people downfield -- tight ends, receivers or even linemen -- who head back to the line of scrimmage [to throw a block]," McKay said. "We're trying to protect that defender and so that you cannot block that defender in the head. We'd rather have the blocker attempt the block in the chest area, anywhere but the head."

It's not clear even by watching the video, the two NFL officials said, whether Ward's block was with his helmet or shoulder.

"I think there was some debate there," Anderson said. "Some of our eyes may have seen helmet to helmet, some may have seen shoulder to helmet."

Ward was neither penalized nor fined for the hit on Rivers.

"Certainly Hines' was one that was perfectly legal last year," Anderson said, "but as Rich said, the result of those types of hits led to the conclusion that for safety's sake, we want to eliminate those types of blindside hits if you will."

The NFL passed new rules in 1978 that benefited the passing game. Perhaps the major change was the one that become known as the "Mel Blount Rule" because defenders no longer could bump a receiver 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Previously, they could bump a receiver anywhere until the ball was in the air. Blount, a Steelers Hall of Fame cornerback, used his 6-foot-3, 205-pound size to overwhelm receivers before a pass was thrown.

McKay acknowledged that the competition committee focused on player safety when they came up with four of their seven rules proposals for the owners to consider next week. Another Steelers player might have helped inspire one of them.

Ryan Clark had celebrated hits on New England wide receiver Wes Welker and Baltimore running back Willis McGahee last season, which were decried by many but declared legal and never drew fines. Those might fall in a gray area if Rule Proposal No. 4 passes next week.

"In 1995, we passed a rule that allowed there to be protection for a defenseless receiver in the air, helmet to helmet," McKay said.

The new rule would expand that to include a hit with a forearm or shoulder to the head until the receiver has two feet on the ground.

"There were an awful lot of hits in the last couple of years that have been legal but very tough on the players," McKay said. "We're trying to expand that protection."

While Clark's hits came with his shoulder to the head, both receivers had their feet on the ground at the time, so that type of hit still might be legal if the new rule passes.

Other safety rules proposals involve the elimination of the "bunching" of players on onside kicks and limiting the number of players who can be used in a "wedge" on kickoff returns to two.

Some other minor rules adjustments will be considered, including a small expansion of plays that can be reviewed by replay. The owners also will continue to discuss expanding the regular season to 17 or 18 games but no decision can be made on that. The NFL Players Association would have to agree to such an expansion and that likely will be among the debates when the sides begin labor negotiations.

There is a proposal to change the draft order of teams involved in the playoffs, but there is little sentiment by players or club officials to change the NFL's overtime rules, the two league officials said yesterday.
Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com.
First published on March 19, 2009 at 12:00 am
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Old 03-19-2009, 12:46 AM   #3
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Default Re: NFL rule changes put safety first

I look forward to flag football in about 5 years. I think the NFL should change its acronym to one of two things, National Flag League or National Fine League. What a profanityfilterprofanityfilterprofanityfilterprofa nityfiltering joke.
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Old 03-19-2009, 12:49 AM   #4
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Default Re: NFL rule changes put safety first

screw this bs
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:56 AM   #5
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Default Re: NFL rule changes put safety first

My God this is football right? Man when I played highschool and college ball it was a alot different, now days they are turnign it into touch football which is so sad. Look we all know the sport can be violent and all the players know this as well. You know this is kinda like those that sign up to go to the military, yes they know the risk yet they are willing to still go to support thier country. All football players know very well the high risk in playign the game but they love the game and are willing to put everything on the line, week in, week out. Just let the guys play lets not turn this into Thursday touch football at the YMCA.
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Old 03-19-2009, 03:30 AM   #6
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Default Re: NFL rule changes put safety first

NFL rule changes put safety first
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...s_999999.html#

By Rotorhead
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, March 19, 2010

Rich McKay, a co-chairman of the NFL's competition committee, said a proposed rule change that league owners will vote on next week does not target the Steelers Defense

The owners will be voting in the coming weeks to ban the Steelers Defense from actually playing football. In their place, they will only allow a high school cheerleading squad . . . as long as they stay out of the way . . . to try to cheer fear into opposing offenses.

A spokesman for the NFL has stated that the Steelers Defense is far to aggressive and overpowers opposing offenses to dominately. In order to make games the ultra high scoring affairs we all want them to be, we must eliminate the top defense every season until it is just offenses on the field scoring as fast as possible. "It is ultimately do to the safety of the players, I mean, we don't want to see contact out there, someone might jam a pinky!" - Roger "Moron" Gooddell

In other news, the Steelers Defense has been seen around the Pittsburgh area with their uniforms on and capes - "We are trying out for our new jobs as Super Heroes" - Big Snack. Crime in the Pittsburgh area is currently down to 0% due to fear of being crushed like a quarterback.
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Old 03-19-2009, 03:37 AM   #7
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Default Re: NFL rule changes put safety first

I guess they need to dress the players in there squirts and let them run around and play in the grass.
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Old 03-19-2009, 06:12 AM   #8
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Default Re: NFL rule changes put safety first

Is every rule change going to be named after Steelers players from here on?
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Old 03-19-2009, 06:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: NFL rule changes put safety first

Quote:
Originally Posted by OX1947 View Post
I look forward to flag football in about 5 years. I think the NFL should change its acronym to one of two things, National Flag League or National Fine League. What a profanityfilterprofanityfilterprofanityfilterprofa nityfiltering joke.

Well said....slowly but surely they're trying to take the violence out of the game. Let's be honest, violence is part of football and always has been...you take away the violence and you take away part of the game.

The Steelers have always intimidated their opponents, it's part of their philosophy and this intimidation factor has paid huge dividends over the years. I hope Rooney fights this "panty waist" rule change as hard as he fought for the Rooney rule itself.
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Old 03-19-2009, 06:36 AM   #10
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Default Re: NFL rule changes put safety first

What a crock of The players wear pads and helmets, not ballerina skirts and posies in their hair.
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