Most of the NFL’s emphasis on player safety in recent years has focused on reducing hits to the head. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at his State of the League press conference that he’s concerned about knees as well.
Specifically, Goodell mentioned that he wants the league to focus on eliminating dangerous low blocks and improving field conditions as it continues to try to eliminate shots to the head.
“The Competition Committee’s agenda will include looking at eliminating certain dangerous low blocks; further taking the head out of the game and expanding the standards for the quality of our playing fields,” Goodell said.
Field quality became a particular concern after Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons both suffered serious knee injuries on a terrible playing surface at FedEx Field. Low blocks have long been a topic of discussion, especially among defensive players who think the NFL has put all of its focus on protecting the offense. But there was renewed enthusiasm for changing the rules to protect players from low blocks when Texans linebacker Brian Cushing suffered a torn ACL when Jets guard Matt Slauson took him out at the knee. Goodell said the league takes injuries like that seriously.
“In working with our Player Advisory Committee that Ronnie Lott and John Madden chair, we talked about that earlier this year shortly after the Brian Cushing injury. We need to review all of those low blocks,” Goodell said.
So hits to the head aren’t the only kinds of hits that Goodell wants to reduce.