NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell notified teams on Wednesday that more significant discipline, including suspensions, will be imposed on players that strike an opponent in the head or neck area in violation of the rules.
A memo to the clubs from Commissioner Goodell was accompanied by a video to NFL players and coaches. The video, released to the public yesterday, is an attempt to further clarify the league's stance on protecting players from illegal hits. You can view the video (HERE).
The video, narrated by Ray Anderson, Executive Vice President of Football Operations, shows "examples of flagrant violations that will result in higher levels of discipline." Several plays with illegal hits and several that are legal are shown
In a related ESPN video (HERE), their Sports Science team looks at the effect of head-to-head collisions. It ain't pretty.
After the Break, read the exact message from Roger Goodell that was sent to all players and coaches.
TO NFL PLAYERS AND COACHES:
One of our highest priorities is player safety. We all know that football is a tough game that includes hard contact. But that carries with it an obligation to do all that we can to protect all players from unnecessary injury caused by dangerous techniques from those who play outside the rules.
The video shown today shows what kind of hits are against the rules, but also makes clear that you can play a hard, physical game within the rules.
Violations of the playing rules that unreasonably put the safety of another player in jeopardy have no place in the game, and that is especially true in the case of hits to the head and neck. Accordingly, from this point forward, you should be clear on the following points:
1. Players are expected to play within the rules. Those who do not will face increased discipline, including suspensions, starting with the first offense.
2. Coaches are expected to teach playing within the rules. Failure to do so will subject both the coach and the employing club to discipline.
3. Game officials have been directed to emphasize protecting players from illegal and dangerous hits, and particularly from hits to the head and neck. In appropriate cases, they have the authority to eject players from a game.