SBD/March 26, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Coaches, Execs Deny Rule Changes Have Made The Game Less Physical

Health and player safety were the topics of conversation during an NFL Network special called “Health of the Game: NFL Evolution Special Report.” The show featured a roundtable discussion on making the game safer. NFL Net's Andrea Kremer said there is “always talk about a built-in conflict of interest that exists between coaches, players and the medical staff.” She asked, “How do you reconcile the need to make the game safe, go through the appropriate protocols and yet get the players out on the field?” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he has “zero influence” on the medical staff "in any way.” Lewis: “That’s a misconception that any coach can be involved that way, saying to the doctor, ‘Oh no, he’s fine.'" Giants President & CEO John Mara added, “It really bothers me too, because no coach wants to send a player out on the field if there’s a suspicion that he has a concussion.” Falcons President & CEO Rich McKay said the issue of player health and safety has not changed the direction of the Competition Committee because, being the “old man” on the committee, the issue “has been at the forefront of the committee since I got on" in '94. Mara said of assertions the new rules are softening the game, “This game is just as physical as it’s ever been and I defy anybody to watch one of our games up close … and tell me that the game is any less physical.” Lewis said, “We’re asking guys to do things differently but the game is just as physical” ("Health Of The Game: NFL Evolution Special Report," NFLN, 3/25).

GAME IS GOING TO CHANGE SOME: Buccaneers CB Ronde Barber said of the rule changes implemented to increase player safety, “It’s going to change. The future of the game is going to slow down.” Steelers S Ryan Clark said “on paper” the game is going to “be safer, but on the field it’s going to softer.” Former NFLer Donovan McNabb said the league “is covering themselves” and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “is coming up with more rules and litigating everything now to make it look like we’re trying to protect everyone. But they still want to see explosive players so we can see it on highlights.” Former NFLer Shaun O’Hara: “They’re trying to make the game safer for us as players, but they want to see their investments out on the field” (“NFL Total Access,” NFLN, 3/25).
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