On Tuesday morning, NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson was interviewed on Mike & Mike in the Morning. The focus was on the league's approach to hits to a player's head or neck area going forth, and Anderson, in short, said that no new rules would be drafted, and that existing rules will simply be enforced "to the letter of the law."
Anderson cited Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8 of the rule book, which addresses hits to the head or neck. He said that if a player initiates contact on a defenseless player with his forearm, shoulder, or helmet, he will be in violation of existing rules, and the NFL's new approach will be to exact punishment in each and every one of these incidents. First-time offenders, he said, will not be exempt.
Anderson made a point to define the "defenseless player" -- for example, he said, a player in pursuit of the ball is a defenseless player, but a runner in possession of the ball is not. Mike Golic asked Anderson whether such hits to a runner in possession of the ball are "fair game," which Anderson did not deny.
With regard to punishment, Anderson noted that the NFL would address and further clarify the level of authority granted to referees, and said that players could be ejected from a game for an illegal hit. Suspensions without pay, he said, will also be handed out as punishment.
When Anderson said the league would be enforcing the rules "to the letter of the law," he was certainly consistent with himself. Later in the interview, he said it would be unnecessary for the league to determine intent, and if the pad levels of the players changed at the last second, this would not be taken into account.
Anderson explained that by enforcing these rules, the NFL hopes to lead by example and act as an influence on lower levels of football. The test now, it seems, is whether the league can significantly reduce concussions and related injuries without changing a letter of the rule book.