NFLPA Vote to Reject Injured Reserve Rule Changes

This news is important, unfortunately, it’s not getting the attention it deserves. 

This past May, the owners voted to change the existing injured reserve and trade deadline rules, making them more lenient for teams. 

The previous injured reserve rule was that a player on IR would be ineligible for the rest of the season, but would also not count towards the roster limitations, freeing up a spot for a healthy player. 

Under the new rule, teams would be allowed to bring one player off of the IR list, meaning that a player could temporarily give up his roster spot while he recovered. This would be extremely valuable for teams with a high profile player who was hurt, but had a chance to make it back on the field late in the season.

For example, the Colts could have IR’d Peyton Manning last season, holding out hope that he would be able to come off of it later in the season. Instead, they kept him on the active roster, wasting a valuable roster space. Another Colts’ example would be the Anthony Gonzalez fiasco from a few years, where the receiver was put on IR, but was then found later to be healthy enough to return. Unfortunately, he could not with the IR rule in place. 

In terms of the trading deadline, the owners voted to move it back from Week Six to Week Eight, giving teams a little bit more time to replace players with mid-season injuries. 

Now, however, it seems that neither of those beneficial changes will become reality, at least in 2012. 

 According to ESPN NFL Insider John Clayton, the NFLPA has confirmed that it has rejected both of the rule changes, for what seems to be fuzzy reasons: 

The proposed rule changes were linked to changes to in-season practice rules, a source told FOXSports.com. Under that scenario, the NFLPA refused to accept.

“The changes would have meant one step forward and one step back,” NFL (Editors Note: ESPN meant NFLPA here- KR) executive George Atallah said in an email to FOXSports.com.

I’m not sure what these practice changes are, but I am a little confused what George Atallah meant by saying “one step forward and one step back.” According to my math, that means it would keep them at the exact same place, so there’s no harm in going ahead with the changes, right? 

Nitpicking aside, it is frustrating as a fan of the NFL to not see these rule changes go through. There hasn’t been any mention of practice rules being changed in connection with this vote, so for us, the rejection is mind-boggling. 

According to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports, a source told him that “the NFLPA unsuccessfully tried to get concessions from the NFL related to other negotiations in exchange for accepting the new trade and IR rules.”

The rule changes had been met with near-unanimous approval in the media, and would have given teams much more flexibility in roster management. It would also be beneficial for players who want to play, but get thrown on IR early in the season and are unable to return for the playoffs or late in the regular season. 

Unfortunately, the constant bickering and haggling by the NFL and NFLPA once again is causing issues, and for this issue, we all lose. 

Kyle J. Rodriguez

About Kyle J. Rodriguez

A film and numbers guru, Kyle writes about the NFL and the Indianapolis Colts for Bleacher Report, Draft Mecca and The Football Educator, and is a co-founder and associate editor of Colts Authority. Kyle also is a high school sports reporter for the MLive Media Group in Michigan, covering high school sports across the state.

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