NFL owners vote to make blindside blocks illegal in an effort to reduce concussions

At the NFL owners meetings on Tuesday, the league made a sensible change entirely unrelated to instant replay, overtime or any other hot-button issues that have dominated the discourse down in Phoenix. With player safety in mind -- specifically, trying to reduce concussions -- the league voted to outlaw blindside blocks.

As the league announced, "It is a foul if a player initiates a block in which he is moving toward or parallel to his own end line and makes forcible contact to his opponent with his helmet, forearm, or shoulder." According to the NFL, blindside blocks were responsible for one-third of concussions that were sustained on punts. 

Below, you can see a couple examples. They're pretty easy to spot.

This shouldn't come as a surprise. As more information becomes available and as more studies find that there's a link between football and CTE, the league has started implementing rule changes to address player safety. In 2015, one study found that 87 of 91 deceased players had CTE, a degenerative brain disease. In 2017, another study found that the brains of 110 of 111 former NFL players had CTE. It is, however, worth noting that in January 2018, a study found that repeated hits to the head -- not concussions -- can lead to CTE.

In recent years, the NFL has changed the kickoff in an attempt to make it safer. Changes to the punt could be coming. The league has also made it more difficult for defensive players to hit quarterbacks or defenseless players. A new helmet rule was implemented last year. Eliminating blindside blocks was just the next logical step for the league to take, even if it will change the game. Changes to a violent sport, however, are necessary.  

More rule changes -- ones not related to player safety -- might still arrive later on Tuesday as the league could vote on possible changes to instant replay. Regardless if those rule proposals are passed or rejected by the owners, the results are sure to generate more controversy than the rule change that banned blindside blocks. But that doesn't make player-safety rule changes any less important.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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