Super Bowl LVII: Roger Goodell hints at rule changes to 'take head out of the game' amid concussion rise
Roger Goodell expects there to be an emphasis on rule changes aimed at removing techniques that lead to concussions during the NFL offseason.
The NFL saw concussions rise 18 per cent during the regular season. In that regard, the campaign was defined by the saga of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered two confirmed concussions and one suspected concussion during the year.
Tagovailoa's concussion evaluation during the Dolphins' Week 3 win over the Buffalo Bills in September prompted a change to the league's protocol, with ataxia – impaired balance or coordination – added to the NFL's list of "no-go symptoms".
Goodell attributed that rise in part to the changed definition but indicated rule changes could be coming to "take the head out of the game".
Asked at his pre-Super Bowl press conference what more can be done to prevent concussions, he replied: "I think a lot of the things we have done. Any time we can change the protocols to make it safer for our players, we're going to do that.
"I think that's a reason why concussions went up this year, because we had a broader description.
"Ultimately you want to try to take that head out of the game. You want the rules to make sure you're avoiding the techniques that are contributing to those kind of injuries."
The NFL's competition committee will discuss potential rule changes during the annual league meeting in Arizona in March, and Goodell anticipates that changes to techniques will probably "head the list" of proposed rule alterations from teams.
Goodell rejected the idea, though, that the expansion to an 18-week, 17-game regular season has had an influence on the rise in concussions.
"Total injures were down six per cent this year," said Goodell when asked if the league may need to re-evaluate the extension to the season.
"On Week 18, the injury rate is absolutely no different than any other week, so I'm not sure I accept your premise that we need to re-evaluate.
"It's hard to draw conclusions from one year."