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Change in horse-collar rule had very limited support


Giants co-owner John Mara, a member of the Competition Committee, recently explained to Michael Eisen of the ongoing efforts to make the game safer. Many believe, probably accurately, that the NFL has been significantly influenced in this regard by a rash of lawsuits arising from the days when the NFL wasn’t doing much to make the game safer.

With nearly 1,200 former players and counting filing civil complaints arising from the alleged health effects of concussions, the NFL is paying attention.

But safety concerns have their limits. Specifically, they could be limited to those areas that give rise to potential liability.

For example, an effort to expand the horse-collar rule to include quarterbacks who are in the pocket failed miserably last month, with Mara telling Eisen that only five of 32 owners supported the move.

“I think the reason the horse collar rule is in effect is it’s such a dangerous play, particularly when a defender grabs the back of a jersey right at the neck area and then ends up falling into the legs of the offensive player,” Mara said. “That’s not really what happens when the quarterback is in the pocket. We just felt it did not create the same amount of risk. I think it was very important. It’s a natural thing for defensive lineman to reach out and grab the quarterback, but you don’t see them fall into the back of the legs like you see in the open field.”

He may be right, but Steelers owner Art Rooney strongly disagrees.

Regardless of whether quarterbacks who get yanked down from behind while in the pocket face the kind of injury risk that should be removed from the game, it’s safe to say that far more than five owners would have supported the move if there was a connection between horse-collar tackles and concussions.