The Patriots have been at the center of many of the discussions regarding potential rules changes this offseason with several proposals, as well as some tweaks that may have been suggested by New England’s conference rivals following a bitter playoff defeat.
And now, in a roundabout way, there’s another rule change that may be put into place in 2015 because of the Patriots. In the second half of Super Bowl XLIX, wide receiver Julian Edelman helped move the chains with a big third-down reception, but after he withstood a bone-rattling hit, it appeared he was wobbly when he got to his feet. Edelman himself dismissed concussion talk after the game, but some people speculated if the receiver was indeed concussed as the result of the hit.
On Monday at the league meetings in Arizona, the competition committee discussed a new proposal where an independent official — what committee members referred to as an ATC spotter who viewed the game from a press box or similar vantage point — would have the power to radio to an official to stop the game if he notices a player who should go through the concussion protocol. The player would then be removed from the game and checked by trainers.
Falcons president Rich McKay, who serves on the competition committee, was asked if the Edelman play spurred the decision to be more proactive when it comes to concussion issues.
“The Edelman situation was a play we looked at, and it was part of the issue,” he said. “There were a couple of other plays that go back a couple of years that we looked at and really it came a little bit from the health and safety committee just saying, ‘We got the ATC spotters, they’ve got a really good vantage point, they’ve got technology in their booth, they’re communicating pretty well with our trainers and doctors and we’ve got a pretty good rhythm going there, why would we miss a player where a player shouldn’t come out?’ And maybe this becomes the fail-safe. So that was the genesis of it.
“We do not expect this to be a rule that gets used a lot. We expect it to be a fail-safe when people just don’t see this player and the distress the player may have had, the ATC spotter does and stops the game.”
McKay also expanded on some of the logistical aspects of what happens when the player is removed from the game.
“(The team) will be able to substitute. In the case of the offense, bring in the new player, the defense will have the chance to match up,” he added. “But we will start the play clock where it was, unless it was inside 10 seconds. Then we will reset back to 10. But the thinking is, we didn’t want to create a situation where a team could potentially gain a competitive advantage or disadvantage through this process.”
The proposal will be voted on this week.