–By Nick Browne
Player safety in the NFL has been at the forefront of changes to the game in the last several years. With that, comes rule changes implemented to better protect defenseless players, and an attempt to eliminate shots to the head of players.
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Concussions and head injuries are especially troubling for the league. The league has concussion protocols in place that players need to pass in order to be able to return to the field. In 2015, the league took things a step further.
How so? Near the end of the 2011 season, an injury video review system was implemented which included adding another set of eyes with independent (certified athletic trainers) ATC spotters to the press box. Since 2012, the ATC spotters would review game film and were able to notify trainers on the sidelines if a player appeared to have suffered an injury.
For the 2015 season, the spotters were given the ability to notify game officials to stop the game if a player was exhibiting obvious signs of being disoriented or was clearly unstable. Once the officials are notified, the player is removed from the game to be evaluated by medical staff. The spotter is in place to stop the game only if the officials or team medical staff fail to recognize that a player may be injured–specifically with a possible head or neck injury.