They can’t get the players into a room to negotiate a new deal but they can implement rules that inevitably will be challenged as violations of the anti-trust laws at some point. O.k. not really as it’s not a “labor practice”. Nonetheless, the league owners approved in a unanimous vote new rules that prevent defenseless players from being hit.
The first rule simply states that you can’t lead with your head. Period. It’s a safety concern and should be met with fines and penalties, or at least the former if the latter isn’t called and it’s seen on review. Players should never have any reason to try and get away with those types of hits. As they teach from the very beginning. Facemask to the chest!
The second portion of that rule now makes it illegal to “launch” at a player. This is for those players who leave their feet in order to make the hit. It’s normally seen from defensive backs or linebackers who launch into a player with their shoulders that tend to hit above the shoulders of the offensive player. Again, this is a safety issue and should be something that the league enforces.
Players who are “not yet running” are considered defenseless. Not sure I agree with this as a player in the act of making a catch should be able to be hit, and hit hard. However, this really goes more hand in hand with the first two changes so a legal hit on a defenseless receiver would be one that does not involve launching or leading with the head or a shot to the head. It also covers punters, kickers, and QB’s who are not chasing down the ball carrier.
Finally, the league has improved in one aspect of their rules. That being the hit on a QB’s head. No longer will penalties be thrown on incidental contact to the head or when the head is “grazed” by a defenders hand. It’s not going to be called when the defender actually hits the QB’s head. Too many times we saw a players hand slide off the shoulder pads or the arm, or even the ball and slap on the crown of the QB’s helmet. An instant 15 yard penalty. The league approved to take that out of the equation.