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John Elway: Player safety is the 'No. 1 goal' of the NFL, Competition Committee

PHOENIX --As one of just three former NFL players who are on the NFL's Competition Committee -- and the only former pro quarterback in the group -- John Elway brings a unique view to the prestigious group tasked with discussing potential changes to the rules of the game.

"Yeah, it's interesting to see it from that aspect, too, but obviously being an offensive guy, there's more defensive guys on that committee, too, so I think I give a different perspective," the team's Executive Vice President and General Manager told Broncos TV on Sunday during a break from the NFL Annual Meeting at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.

"Everybody kind of comes at it from different angles, but it was a tremendous committee, and I'm glad to be a part of it, and I think my years of playing it, my role now with the Broncos -- it's been good to get my perspective. "

But his most unique view came on the discussion of banning the leap over the line of scrimmage by teams defending placekicks. No team benefited more from a leap than the Broncos, as Justin Simmons' perfectly-timed hurdle over the Saints on what could have been a game-winning extra point turned into a block that Will Parks returned for two points in a 25-23 win at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last Nov. 13.

The proposal to ban leaping, made by the Eagles, was done in the name of player safety, which is the committee's top priority. That is what changed Elway's perspective, because at first, he was not in favor of banning the leap.

"But then as we start talking about it, and you talk about player safety, that's really what it was for, because it would only take one bad accident to have someone fall and get hurt seriously on that play," Elway said.

"Then we'd realize that we probably made a mistake if we hadn't put it in, so I think in the name of player safety, I was for [the change] but I thought it was an exciting play."

Other changes in recent years were more impactful than the ban of the leap would be, since it is a rare play that only arises a handful of times each season league-wide. But it fits under the broad umbrella of on-field player-safety issues.

"Each year they look to get better, and I will tell you this: The one thing that this committee has done and what the league has done over the last eight to 10 years has been tremendous for the game of football as far as making it safer," Elway said. "It's still the same game, but it's much less unnecessary hits in the game that they've taken out, and it continues to get better and better.

"Player safety is the No. 1 goal of the league, and we continue to do the best we can to take some unnecessary hits out.

"We've taken it out on a receiver running a route now, especially under five yards, so he's going to get protected -- which is a good thing, because there were some bad collisions that could have turned out bad. I think it's another step forward for us in player safety."

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