The Canadian Football League will add an extra official to the field for the rest of the playoffs to watch for any blows delivered to the head or neck of a quarterback.
The development comes after Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Brandon Bridge was hit late in the fourth quarter of last weekend’s West semifinal loss to Winnipeg. Bridge was rocked by a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jackson Jeffcoat, who was not penalized as the head referee’s view was blocked on the play.
If the extra official sees an illegal blow that has not already been flagged, they will advise the head referee, who can then assess a penalty for roughing the passer, the league said Thursday.
“It is very important that this sort of potentially dangerous play is penalized on the field in addition to being subject to supplementary discipline,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement. “Not only is it important to the integrity of the game, it can act as a deterrent. That is why we are adding an additional set of eyes, with a strictly limited but well-defined mandate, to our officiating crew.
“No system is fail-safe and no human is incapable of error. And nothing we do on player safety should be held up as the ultimate solution. Our approach must constantly evolve. But we believe this is a step forward. We will continue to look for ways to not only penalize dangerous play but, more importantly, prevent it.”
At a team availability on Tuesday, Bridge said that he underwent concussion testing following the hit, but was feeling better and could have played this weekend if the Roughriders had won.
The Blue Bombers will visit the Calgary Stampeders in the West final on Sunday while the Ottawa Redblacks will host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the East crown.
The extra official will have no other responsibilities and cannot suggest or call a penalty for other infractions. The league said it will discuss the change in the off-season with the Canadian Football League Players’ Association and the league’s rules committee, officials and governors.
The Grey Cup is set for Nov. 25 at Edmonton.