Published January 04, 2011
NEW YORK – John Madden wants to make pro football safer, not tamer.
Madden and Ronnie Lott, both in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, will co-chair the NFL Player Safety Advisory Panel. It will consist of former NFL players, coaches and general managers and make recommendations to Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Other committee members on the panel announced Tuesday are former players Antonio Freeman, Patrick Kerney, Willie Lanier, Anthony Munoz, former coach Marty Schottenheimer and former general manager Ernie Accorsi.
"This is a way of looking at player safety and the way the game is played and how it will be played," Madden said during a conference call. "Football is a tough game, the NFL is tough. Guys are big and fast and strong and there are violent hits. It's a violent game. Within that, how can we make it safer?
"You are not going to take hitting out of football, or take big, fast, strong guys having collisions out of football. There are ways of making it safer and I just want to be part of that."
The NFL said the panel will review rules, equipment standards and game video, among other things.
Lott says the panel is an important step in making the game safer.
"How do we collect data, information and get smarter?" he said. "If we can do all of that, we will be a smarter league. We need to try to understand all the things we know about the game and all the things we don't know about the game.
"Looking back on my career, I would say, 'Boy if I had known this, I would have been better prepared for that situation."
NFL executive Ray Anderson said Goodell wants input from former players and coaches. So do Madden and Lott, who also plan to talk to current players and coaches. Their committee will study the entire NFL year, from offseason workouts and weight training sessions to minicamps, training camp, preseason games and the regular season.
Madden even mentioned possibly widening the fields if it meant enhanced safety.
"The players are bigger, stronger, faster and playing on the same sized fields, so maybe we widen the field," he said. "I would like to look at NFL stadiums today and could we do that?"
The announcement comes a day after New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate what he says are misleading claims in the selling of new and reconditioned football helmets.
In his letter to FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz, Udall says he is "troubled by misleading marketing claims by Riddell, a leading helmet maker that supplies the official helmet to the National Football League."
Udall also wants the FTC to "look into potential false and deceptive practices related to the reconditioning of used helmets."
Madden said all equipment will be investigated by his committee, including hip, knee and thigh pads that the league has considered making mandatory.
"If we are talking about safety of the game," Madden said, "we want to encompass every guy that plays it to protect him in every way he can be protected in every area of the game."
AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich in Washington contributed to this report.