NFL to let independent spotters call timeouts for suspected concussions

New England receiver Julian Edelman caught the game-winning pass in Super Bowl XLIX after taking a huge hit to the head earlier in the game.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

NFL owners unanimously approved a measure Tuesday authorizing independent spotters to call a medical timeout during a game if they spot a player showing signs of disorientation and in need of the league’s concussion protocol.

The rule comes on the heels of a huge hit to the head of New England receiver Julian Edelman by Seattle safety Kam Chancellor in the Super Bowl. Although he looked woozy, Edelman did not leave the game and later caught the game-winning touchdown pass.

“The Edelman situation was a play we looked at, and it was part of the issue,” said Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee. “There were a couple of other plays that go back a couple of years that we looked at, and really it came a little bit from the health and safety committee just saying, “We got the [certified trainer] spotters, 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 player where a player shouldn’t come out?”

“And maybe this becomes the fail-safe. So that was the genesis of it. We do not expect this to be a rule that gets used a lot. We expect it to be a fail-safe when people just don’t see this player and the distress the player may have had, the spotter does and stops the game.”