NFL commissioner Roger Goodell emphasized the league’s concern about player safety Wednesday.
“Our focus is how to take the head out of the game and make sure that we’re using the helmet for protection and it is not being used as a weapon,” Goodell said Wednesday during a press conference at the NFL annual owner’s meeting at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando.
Goodell’s comments came on the heels of a new rule approved by owners this week that makes it illegal for a player to lower their head and make contact with their helmet on another player.
The penalty for that foul is 15 yards and a player could be ejected.
Goodell said the new policy received unanimous support from owners and coaches.
“I did not hear a single coach who didn’t believe this is what we have to do and this is the right thing to do and we can do this,” Goodell said.
Players were not as supportive.
Former Bucs and current Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger tweeted: “THE GAME WE LOVE IS GETTING DESTROYED EVERYDAY.”
All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman told USA Today: “I don’t know how they’re going to play the game.”
Goodell responded to those comments on Wednesday.
“We understand that the players – they haven’t yet seen all the data that we have,” he said.
“They haven’t seem exactly how we’re going to approach this but I’m confident in the next few months we’ll be able to do that and they’ll understand and our game will be in a much better place for it.”
Goodell also addressed anthem protests, which were a hot topic coming into the meetings.
“Some discussion on the anthem but only in the context of ‘Is this the platform with which to help the players address these issues in their communities’,” he said.
Regarding the Pro Bowl returning to Orlando next season, a league official said it was discussed during these meetings but nothing more. The same official said there is no time table for making a final decision.