Owners OK changes for safety, replay

The Patriots' Julian Edelman appeared disoriented after this big hit in the Super Bowl by the Seahawks' Kam Chancellor, but he stayed in the game and eventually scored the game-winning touchdown. Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX -- NFL owners have voted to prevent another Julian Edelman situation, giving a third party power to stop a game if a player appears disoriented.

The league announced that the owners voted to allow a certified athletic trainer at each stadium to call a medical timeout if a player appears to be disoriented. During the Super Bowl, New England's Julian Edelman appeared that way after a hit by Seattle's Kam Chancellor. But Edelman remained in the game and eventually caught the winning touchdown pass.

Under the new rule, a spotter at the game would communicate with the side judge if it's determined a player is showing obvious signs of disorientation or is unstable. Neither team would be charged for a timeout -- and teams can replace the affected player only during this stoppage. The opposition also would be able to substitute a player to match up.

NFL competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay said Monday that the Edelman situation was among those they looked at when proposing the change.

"It came a little bit from the health and safety committee just saying, 'We've got these spotters (certified athletic trainers),'" McKay said. "'They've got a really good vantage point. They've got technology in their booth. They're communicating pretty well with our trainers and doctors, and we've got a pretty good rhythm going there.' Why would we miss a play when a player should come out?"

It is one of five safety enhancement rules approved by the owners Tuesday. They also changed the rules for a peel-back block to include all offensive players being penalized as opposed to just those inside the tackle box. They also added to the rule protecting receivers, extending the protection if the pass is intercepted and the intended receivers remain unable to defend themselves from a hit. And they made it illegal for a back outside the tight end area to chop a defensive player engaged above the waist by another offensive player. Pushing a teammate at the line of scrimmage on punts and field goals also was made illegal.

The owners also tabled a proposal to have fixed cameras positioned on the sidelines, end lines and goal lines. They're designed to supplement the broadcast network cameras, thereby guaranteeing coverage of a play no matter where the network cameras are stationed. The teams want to research this issue more before voting their approval.

The owners did approve the ability to review the game clock at the end of a half, game or overtime to determine if there should be more time left on the clock. Of 13 replay alterations proposed, this is the only that passed. Others included extending the number of coaches' challenges and letting them challenge all officiating calls.

Washington's suggestion to use replay to review personal fouls was withdrawn. Kansas City withdrew a proposal to allow replay officials to review all potential scores or turnovers. For example, a pass ruled incomplete in the end zone could be reviewed by the replay official without a coach's challenge. Currently, the play would be reviewed only if it was ruled a touchdown.

Proposals defeated were:

• increasing coaches' challenges by one to three;

• replay reviews of any personal fouls;

• reviews of any penalty resulting in a first down, with no challenge necessary;

• replays on fouls against a defenseless receiver being enforced when a reversal results in an incomplete pass;

• reviewing fouls against a defenseless receiver, with an unsuccessful challenge not costing a timeout;

• reviewing whether time expired on the play clock before the ball is snapped;

• using stadium-produced video for a replay review.

The owners are scheduled to discuss more rule proposals on Wednesday, including possible changes on where a ball is spotted for extra point attempts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.