With player safety a continued emphasis for the NFL, owners held a pair of votes Tuesday to improve the game in that sense.
The kickoff changes implemented last season, which eliminated wedge blocks, disallowed running start and instituted alignment regulation, was voted on and made permanent. According to the NFL, concussions decreased by 38 percent on kickoffs last year compared to 2015-17.
At today's Annual Meeting, owners voted to make permanent the kickoff rule changes that were implemented in 2018. The changes resulted in a 38% reduction in kickoff concussions vs. 2015-17, largely impacted from eliminating wedge blocks. Here's an overview. pic.twitter.com/RISl3DT9Kr- NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) March 26, 2019
Owners took it another step further and voted to eliminate blindside blocks. Per the NFL, one third of concussions from punt plays resulted from blindside blocks.
Of course, those types of blocks can take place on other types of plays, but all blindside blocks are now illegal. The new rule means that "any forcible contact by the blocker with his head, shoulder or forearm is prohibited."
To expand protection of the player being blocked, @NFL owners voted to eliminate blindside blocks. One-third of all concussions on punts were caused by blindside blocks. With the rule change, any forcible contact by the blocker with his head, shoulder or forearm is prohibited. pic.twitter.com/abA2cENnXe- NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) March 26, 2019
Both scheduled votes were expected to pass, so the changes come as little surprise.
Additionally, all the competition committee will introduce a new replay provision that allows an official in the booth to initiate reviews for blatant no-calls on the field, according to ESPN. The rule received support from all 32 head coaches, and the proposal gained traction following the pass interference no-call in the Rams-Saints NFC Championship Game two months ago.
One proposed change that did not pass the competition committee was the idea that a 4th-and-15 down would replace an onside kickoff.