The NFL’s new injury timeout rule that gives medical spotters the authority to call down to the field and order an injury timeout if it appears that a player has a concussion has the potential to make a huge impact on the game: A key player could be removed from the field even if he insists that he’s fine, just because someone in the box upstairs thinks it looks like he suffered a concussion.
But NFL V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino says the rule change probably won’t be as significant as people think. Blandino said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that trainers will use the authority sparingly, and it’s not expected to happen more than a few times in an entire season.
“We’ve looked at a lot of tape, and it’s a handful of times. If it was 10 times, that’s a lot,” Blandino said. “I really don’t anticipate it happening very often. . . . I’d be surprised if it was as widespread as some people think it’s going to be.”
Blandino said the officials already cal medical timeouts when necessary, and the medical spotters are just another set of eyes on the rare occasions when no one else notices that a player looks dazed.
“What we’re teaching our game officials, and this has been the direction for a while now, is if you recognize a player who is unstable or disoriented and is clearly not 100 percent, then we have to get that player attention and we have to stop the game and get him out of the game,” Blandino said. “Where the trainer upstairs, where they’re really going to have to come into play, is when something happens and it’s behind the play, they don’t see it and the medical staff misses it, they’ll have the ability to call down to the game officials.”
The rule might have been employed in the Super Bowl when Patriots receiver Julian Edelman seemed to suffer a concussion but stayed in the game, and if it had been it could have altered the outcome of the Super Bowl. So the potential on-field impact of this rule is significant. Even if the NFL doesn’t think it will be used often.