Yes, the league is taking the issue of helmet-to-helmet hits seriously. How seriously? As of Sunday, a suspension could come for a first offense, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.
V.P. of football operations Ray Anderson confirmed that the new rule will be announced within 48 hours after hits on Sunday that Anderson called “disturbing.”
“We can’t and won’t tolerate what we saw Sunday,” Anderson said Monday, per Mortensen.
“We’ve got to get the message to players that these devastating hits and
head shots will be met with a very necessary higher standard of
accountability. We have to dispel the notion that you get one free pass
in these egregious or flagrant shots.”
The new rule apparently won’t apply only to helmet-to-helmet hits, but it will also encompass “devastating hits” and “head shots.”
Curiously, the league has yet to reiterate its message from three years ago that players committing flagrant helmet-to-helmet hits will be ejected. Since the new approach was adopted, no player has been ejected for a flagrant helmet-to-helmet hit.
Still, the league is moving in the right direction. But we hope the league doesn’t stop by merely beefing up the words on paper; the policy needs to be applied zealously, and other methods for improving player safety should be explored.