As part of the initiative to uphold player safety through proper techniques in game play, the league has created the NFL Way to Play Award to commend players who best demonstrate the actions that the NFL expects out of the players. A panel of six experts has been chosen to select the weekly winners of the award, and one noteworthy official headlines the group of panelists.
Former referee Ed Hochuli will join four former players and one former coach on the “expert panel” to judge plays, selected by the officiating department with other members of football operations, for the award each week. The panel includes former players Merril Hoge, Ronnie Lott, Willie McGinest, and Orlando Pace and former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. In his first year of retirement, Hochuli will join these other panelists every week and select a player to win the award, which includes a $2,500 grant which will be awarded to a local youth or high school football program that is chosen by the winning player.
This award also seems to be part of the effort to uphold the new leading with the helmet rule, which has been maligned in recent weeks by media and the fans. The award will become another incentive for players to abide by the new rule and avoid lowering their head to initiate contact with an opponent.