We’d understand if some fans were given pause by the NFL’s new injury timeout rule.
It certainly sounds like a rule with great potential to cause outrage: A so-called medical spotter will sit in a booth, with the power to stop the game via an injury timeout if they believe a player might have suffered a concussion. To wit, they could have a player taken out of a game when everyone on the field, that player included, are attending to business as usual. It’s a seemingly reasonable player safety measure, but that might be hard to keep in mind if you’re seeing a key player on your favorite team be taken off the field by an unseen hand in a crucial moment.
But the NFL insists that the fans have nothing to worry about. They’re quick to point out that referees already have this power, and that the new rule will just allow for another set of eyes on the field, from a different angle. Besides that, they say the rule won’t be put into action all that often at all.
NFL vice president of officiating (and heel to all those Cowboys fans who saw Dez Bryant make that catch in Green Bay) Dean Blandino recently said that, of all the film the league has watched in making the rule change, there have been 10 instances, at the very most, in which it would have applied.
“What we’re teaching our game officials, and this has been the direction for a while now, is if you recognize a player who is unstable or disoriented and is clearly not 100 percent, then we have to get that player attention and we have to stop the game and get him out of the game,” Blandino said, per Pro Football Talk. “Where the trainer upstairs, where they’re really going to have to come into play, is when something happens and it’s behind the play, they don’t see it and the medical staff misses it, they’ll have the ability to call down to the game officials.”