March 21, 2013

Player safety a focus in rules committee vote Staff

TORONTO — The CFL Rules Committee is expected to vote Friday on a proposal to eliminate open field blocks below the waist in a bid to further improve player health and safety.

“Protecting the well-being of our players within the context of a tough and physically demanding game remains a key focus for our league and our rules committee,” said Tom Higgins, the league’s Director of Officiating.

The proposal is to eliminate all blocks below the waist, or “low blocks”, unless they are executed between the tackles along the line of scrimmage by interior linemen or by other stationary players three yards on other side of the tackles.

It comes on the heels of previous rule changes which eliminated blocks below the waist on special teams and passes beyond the line of scrimmage.
The Rules Committee is made up of head coaches, general managers, team presidents, league officials and a representative of the CFL Players’ Association. It meets here today and tomorrow and its recommendations are subject to approval by the CFL Board of Governors.

The committee will also consider proposals to:
• Allow coaches to request the video replay official to review and possibly overturn a ruling of a missed field goal or extra point.
• Allow a coach to use both of his time-outs in either half of a game, instead of being restricted to using one in each half.
• Allow a player who loses his helmet in the act of catching a pass or recovering a loose ball to participate in the immediate continuation of his attempt to gain possession of the football without penalty, with the play to be blown dead the instant the ball is in possession of player without a helmet.
• Change the penalty for pass interference from possession at the point of the foul to a specific yardage penalty and an automatic first down.

The committee meets here as teams prepare to evaluate top prospects this weekend at the CFL Combine presented by Reebok in Toronto.

The combine kicks off Friday afternoon with player arrivals, medicals and team interviews. On Saturday, the players’ strength, athleticism and flexibility will be tested from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET at the Park Hyatt Toronto Hotel. The event’s final day takes place Sunday from 8:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET on the football field – and features the 40 yard dash and football drills — at Varsity Centre at the University of Toronto.