The CFL is adding another referee. The league has released a statement on ‘player health and safety’. This follows on from an ongoing debate about player safety. Especially quarterbacks who are in a vulnerable position. Particularly when it come to head hits.
For now at least, there will be an eighth official watching the action. The eighth official will have no other responsibilities than to watch for a blow to the head or neck of the quarterback that has not already been flagged.
Their job will then be to advise the Head Referee, who can then assess a penalty for roughing the passer. This role will be filled by someone who has experience as a head referee. I’m sure there’ll be a few jokes being made about the two ‘head’ referees at this point!
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said earlier this week that there was a possibility the league could make changes in time for this weekend’s playoff games and now that has happened.
The Brandon Bridge Rule?
This is a change that comes directly as a result of a ‘missed’ hit to the head on Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Brandon Bridge. The refs missed a hit to Bridge’s head by Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat last weekend.
This has been something of an issue this season. Earlier this year, arguably clear head-shots have been missed on a variety of starting quarterbacks. Travis Lulay, Mike Reilly and BO Levi Mitchell have all felt the effects of hits to the head. There may have been more – feel free let me know if I’ve missed any!
Ironically too, Bridge was only starting this game because Riders starter Zach Collaros was still reeling from just such a hit by Odell Willis of BC. That hit wasn’t flagged in the game either.
As has been discussed before football has a problem with concussion. So it’s always good to see the league at least trying to do something to protect the players.
Let’s hope that this helps and that by the time the Grey Cup comes around all we’re talking about is the great action that got us there.
Banner image from cfl.ca