By Sam Young – The Associated Press”We want our players to play with respect for one another, and I think this is a good way to do that,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.
Goodell said he’s pleased that owners have agreed to a plan that includes mandating helmets for players in all games and allowing the league to ban helmets during games for all but a handful of high-profile events, such as the Super Bowl and NFL Draft.
The league’s stance has been widely criticized by players, and the league is already facing backlash from a growing number of fans who say they don’t want their team to face any risks while on the field.
But the league’s chief executive, Roger Goodell, said that the league has a history of working with its players and the NFL Players Association to work with the league on a shared safety plan.
“I think it is a significant step forward for the NFL,” Goodell said at a news conference on Monday.
“This agreement is one step in that direction.”
Goodell said the league and the players’ association will work to find common ground on safety issues in the future.
He also reiterated his stance that the NFL can’t be forced to make any changes to its concussion protocol that would have adverse health consequences for its players.
He said the new protocol would apply to players and their families, but that there are ways for teams to avoid the changes that would be detrimental to players.
Goodell was asked about the possibility of the NFL changing its concussion protocols and whether he’d be willing to make that change.
He replied that the players were working on it.
“There’s a way for us to address these issues and make sure we are protecting our players,” Goodell told reporters.
“But I don’t think we have to make it so complicated that we’re not able to address any of those issues.”
The players’ union and the head of the league have not yet agreed on a common safety plan, and Goodell said there will be an internal review of the proposal.
Goodell called the plan a “fair” compromise.
“I think we’re doing everything we can to be fair and to find a way to get the players to agree to it,” he said.
NFL players are scheduled to have their first off-field training session on Monday in Philadelphia, the same place where they will face off against the Eagles in Super Bowl XLIX.
In a statement, the NFLPA said the “significant steps” in the proposal, including a mandatory helmet rule for all players, are “a step in the right direction.”
“We’re encouraged by the efforts of the owners and the owners are going to be working closely with the players and we will continue to work on a comprehensive solution,” the statement said.
The NFLPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the league will allow helmets to be worn during games.
The move comes amid concerns about the safety of players taking hits while on game days.
Last year, the league suspended three players for helmet-related violations for the first time in a major crackdown on head injuries.