May 18, 2019 – NEW YORK, NY – For decades, NFL football has been associated with excellence on the field, prosperity, glory and fame – and injuries. There are risks with everything, from the minor to the great. The Shield is all about progression and the need to protect players from unnecessary risk is at its highest priority. And the league will be blindsided no more.
“You (NFL officials) know what you are looking at, you made the adjustments,” said NFL vice president of officiating evaluation and development Wayne Mackie as he addressed the umpires in their meeting.
Mackie was referring to the infamous holding call. Among all the penalties, holding keeps the officials alert. Fortunately, the NFL Caretakers are stellar in flagging that infraction as the process is simpler than other calls.
While holding calls help keep the officials on their toes, player safety is at the highest priority, and blindside hits will garner the spotlight beginning in the 2019 NFL season and beyond. According to NFL Football Operations, 63 percent of concussions during punts are caused by blindside blocks.
One-third of all concussions on punt plays were caused by blindside blocks. From 2015 to 2018, blindside blocks were the cause of this statistic:
- On punts, 17 blindside infractions caused a concussion.
- On other serious injuries, 27 blindside hits generated a concussion.
- On kickoffs. seven players were concussed.
- On passing plays, nine players sustained a concussion.
- On rushing plays, a blindside block produced four concussions
Entering the 2019 NFL season, the blindside block will be the new holding.
Due to advancements in medical research, the NFL sees where it can reduce concussions with rule and technique changes. The NFL Caretakers figure prominently in game day injury reduction.
Last season, using the shoulder or forearm to block an opponent in the direction of the blocker’s goal line was legal. This year, applying the shoulder or forearm for a blindside block will be illegal. Moving forward, shielding a player without force in the direction of the blocker’s goal line is legal.
In Week 10, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown locked in on Miami Dolphins defensive back Bobby McCain coming across the field for a devastating block and laid McCain out with his shoulder.
Week 16 of last season’s Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams contest, Cardinals guard Oday Aboushi ran down the field, but came back and to lay out Rams linebacker Samson Edukam with his shoulder.
Those examples were displayed during the meeting and the emphasis on blindside blocks will be expressed throughout the season. NFL Football Operations wants players to keep blindside blocking simple, by setting a pick with the body in firm position (like in basketball) to shield a without striking force. However, if a player use any play of the body to strike, especially to the head or neck, then it becomes illegal.
Concussions in the NFL have dropped because player protection is at its greatness importance for the league. With the attention focusing on blindside blocks, the percent of concussed players in the NFL will continue to decrease.