Player safety a focus in rules committee vote | | Official Site of the Canadian Football League 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.

Fan Comments
Smart to try to stop blocks (outside of tackle box, as it reads) below the knees. So easy to take out someone knee's (a good db, safety etc) from the game, season or even their career. Has to be stopped. No reason you can't just push them with your hands, or throw your body into their upper body like most WR's do now.
March 21, 2013 - 7:57pm
als rule
2 much interference by the league brass and from tom higgin's video box that continues to ruin the league!!
March 24, 2013 - 1:20pm
Becareful rules commitee, game is slowly morphing into flag football.

It's FOOTBALL!! Controlled violence.
The game is based on collisions with every play.

Players will get to a point they are so busy thinking ''can I hit high?''. ''Dare I hit / block low?''

As for this rule being qualified > • Change the penalty for P.I. from possession at the point of the foul to a specific yardage penalty and an automatic first down....

0:45 left in Q4, on my 12 yard line, down 5 PTS. I call for a deep (55 yard) fly route. Opposing DB knows he can chuck a forearm into my WR & take a ''15 yard'' penalty. So now rather than my team snapping the ball deep upfield where the infraction occured, the officials ''award'' me 15 yards. I burned 8 - 11 seconds off the clock, and now have the ball on my 27 yard line with 0:33 left in Q4.

It will resemble NBA game where the ''D'' knows they have a ''foul'' to give before they get into the bonus.

Please scrap that last bullet point in this article of potential rule changes. If a dummy like me can expose the softness of this rule change, whats a seasoned professional D-C gonna' do with it.
March 21, 2013 - 5:18pm
But a game / half can not end on a penalty. So you keep chucking 55yd bombs and they can keep taking the 15 yds until you get closer, or they play fair and hope you end up with a hail-mary catch in the endzone or the win. Also makes for easier referee calls. It's also just as frustrating now to see a qb throw the ball 60 yds, only for the ref to be 20 yds behind and someone getting a soft PI call and the offense gets to march those 60yds. How many times do you hear the announcers say, just toss it up (dieing minutes of the game / half) and hope you get a PI call. Definitely a frustrating penalty.

It does go both ways though, if a DB gets easily beaten by a WR on a long route, he might just tackle / trip him instead of giving up a TD for only 15 yds and another attempt to stop him. But there are definitely two sides to the story. WR's selling long deep passes hoping to get a call, DB basically tackling WR's purposely knowing its only 15 yds.

Hope they kind find a medium. Maybe any pass within 15 yds is a 15 yd penalty, anything over is a 25 yd. I don't know. But have to look at both sides of it.
March 21, 2013 - 7:54pm
Valid points Sasky Riders, but if they implement a grid format for penalty yardage as you suggested, there might be some merit.

The offence still has a long field to work with. Also see your angle about the Hail Mary where the offence is praying for a PI.

Maybe I hate change. =)

But ready for Ottawa and hopefully later a franchise from the Maritimes.
March 21, 2013 - 9:23pm
Don't see anything wrong with incidental PI as yardage, and blatant as point of foul. If the league goes with yardage only, every DB in the league will take a penalty on a play more than 30 yards from insurance VS huge gain (unless in perfect position). I think it will severely hamper the big pass plays the league is known for if DB's are tackling receivers before they even have a shot at the ball. Maybe I don't like change either, but if the coaches like BC Ben feel current ruling impacts the game too much, look at broadening what defines incidental. Just picturing how I'd feel if the rule changed and we start seeing receivers tackled and on the turf before ball is half way there...
March 22, 2013 - 9:45am
als rule
more rules to hang cuff the defence in a offensive league!!
March 21, 2013 - 11:05am
How do you take away the player's ability to dive and make a tackle in the open field? Not every tackle can be made straight up. I think the blocks below the knees should be eliminated inside the tackles where OL are the ones who have their knees destroyed. Open field tackling is far less of a risk.
March 21, 2013 - 10:58am
It's blocks they're taking away; I think they're going to let you contact the ball carrier the same as you have done but the other guys get a little more protection.
March 21, 2013 - 1:07pm
The PI rule should not be changed. DBs will take more penalties deep to save TDs if all they give up is yds. Amateur football has this type of rule not pros.
March 21, 2013 - 10:51am