NFL owners pass player safety amendments

By BARRY WILNER | May 24, 2011 | 11:43 AM EDT

Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, talks with the media while arriving at the NFL football owners meetings in Indianapolis, Tuesday, May 24, 2011. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — NFL owners have approved rules amendments for player safety that include eliminating a player launching himself into a defenseless opponent.

The 32 owners have voted unanimously to enhance the protection of defenseless players. Anyone who leaves both feet before contact to spring forward and upward into an opponent and delivers a blow to the helmet with any part of his helmet will draw a 15-yard penalty.

Such tackles also will be subject to fines.

The definition of a defenseless receiver has been extended. Now, a receiver who has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a runner even if both feet are on the ground is considered defenseless.