Roger Goodell talks all the time about how concerned he is about player safety. He fines players for hits to the head. The rules change every year in attempts to make the game safer.
Increase the Roster Size
If the roster size was increased, players would not feel they were letting their teammates down by needing to sit out. When teams are shuffling roster spots and only have a certain number of linemen for instance, a lineman is less likely to speak up if he feels it will put his team in a bind. He would also feel more secure in keeping his job since there would be some buffer space on the roster.
While this may be unpopular with owners, I am sure players hurry back in order to stay on the team and keep their contracts. If you have a family of 5 at home to feed and clothe, that can weigh upon you when you live year to year with nothing guaranteed.
Put a Concussion Referee on the Field
Put a referee on the field whose only job is to spot players who seem concussed. I remember watching a Baltimore Ravens game a few years ago,, and their tight end was in the huddle and literally just dropped to the ground. Putting a referee out there to look for players shaken up, he could pause the game and get the player off the field while not penalizing a team for a substitution foul.
Provide Cognition Tests to Players in the Pre-Season and After the Season
Testing players in the preseason and again after the season, the NFL could give the players feedback on brain functioning. Preseason test would be a baseline. These tests would make players aware of any diminishing brain functioning, and it would help to spot problems earlier rather than later.
The logic behind this is simple. Players on PED’s will be bigger, faster, and stronger. All of these result in harder hits. If a player is found to have taken PED’s, he shouldn’t be coming back to play for some time. The current policy is barely a slap on the wrist, and it puts players at risk by putting them up against roided up opponents.
Put Sensors in Helmets
Put some force sensors in the helmets. This would be easy to implement. All forces would be recorded, and if a force above a certain threshold was reached, the player might be required to come to the sideline to get checked out. This one is a bit of stretch perhaps, but the exact mechanics of it could be worked out to benefit players. Obviously, you wouldn’t want opponents setting it off on purpose to get someone off the field. Nor would you want it going off on every play which it very well might. It’s an idea though.
So those are my suggestions for the NFL. Let me know what you think.