NFL owners voted Wednesday to approve a proposal that would allow for a new form of timeout: the medical timeouts, which will be determined by a third party athletic trainer spotter at stadiums.
NFL competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay said at a press conference on Monday ahead of the vote that under the new rule, the spotter will have the "ability to stop the game, to radio to the side judge" if he suspects a player "displays obvious signs of disorientation or is clearly unstable."
Time will stop and the identified player will be removed from the field to receive a medical evaluation without costing a timeout to either team.
The decision to institute the rule came after Seattle Seahawk Kam Chancellor leveled a particularly violent hit on the New England Patriots' Julian Edelman during this year's Super Bowl, which led critics to question whether Edelman had been properly evaluated.
McKay said Monday that the Edelman hit served as part of the rule's "genesis," noting there were a couple of other plays from past seasons that added to the concern.
The NFL said this hit was "part of the issue." (Source: YouTube)
Edelman's helmet-to-helmet collision raised eyebrows as he wasn't immediately checked for a possible concussion, despite wobbling while regaining his footing and crawling after a subsequent play. However, other sources say the player was checked for a concussion and cleared to play the reminder of the game.
The vote passed Wednesday, along with five other safety proposals, ESPN reported, at the annual NFL Owners meetings, which are taking place in Phoenix, Arizona. A Boston Globe report said the teams passed the proposal unanimously.
Either way, McKay said he doesn't expect the new rule regarding medical timeouts to have much interference in the game.
"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," McKay said.
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