NFL approves medical timeout to allow hurt players to be examined

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

NFL teams unanimously approved Tuesday morning the addition of a medical timeout during the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

The new timeout was first discussed Monday by the Competition Committee. The timeout would stop action and allow medical officials to remove a player who observers believe to be injured or concussed.

Under the new rule, the player would be removed from the game and undergo an examination on the sideline or undergo the league's concussion protocol. The player's team would be allowed to substitute for him, and the opposite team also would be given a chance to change personnel.

The NFL last season began using independent medical observers in the press box to spot players who might have suffered injuries. They were equipped with video equipment that allowed them to review replays and communication devices to contact medical officials on the sidelines.

"We've got the (medical) spotters," Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons and co-chairman of the committee, said Monday during a press conference. "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.

"And maybe this becomes the fail-safe. 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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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