NFL football operations executive Ray Anderson told ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" that the league will hold players accountable under a "strict liability" standard for illegal hits to the head and neck starting with games this week, saying the league will not apologize for trying to protect players' safety and enforcing the current rules.
Anderson, the league's executive vice president of football operations, backed away from the word "devastating" in describing the kind of hits the league will act upon beginning with games this week.
"I don't know where the word devastating came from. That's not my word," he said Tuesday. "What I would tell you is that if there are flagrant and egregious violations of our current rules, we will be enforcing, effective immediately, discipline at a higher level."
On Monday, Anderson said "We've got to get the message to players that these devastating hits and head shots will be met with a very necessary higher standard of accountability. We have to dispel the notion that you get one free pass in these egregious or flagrant shots."
Tuesday on "Mike and Mike in the Morning," Anderson stressed that the league's increased attention and discipline on head shots is based on current rules protecting "defenseless" players -- for example, a wide receiver or punt returner making a catch. Those rules have already been a point of emphasis for game officials. this season, he said.
"You should know the rules," Anderson said. "If you're in violation of those rules we're going to hold you to a higher standard."
He said that players should be able to adjust their technique to the rules and avoid illegal hits.
The defender, Anderson said, "has to adjust his target area. He has to wrap up. He has to do things more fundamentally."
Asked about specific hits from Sunday, Anderson said Falcons defender Dunta Robinson's hit on Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson and Patriots defender Brandon Meriweather's hit on Ravens tight end Todd Heap were hits that highlight the league's concerns.
Anderson said Meriweather's hit on Heap was "flagrant" and "egregious."
"That, in our view, is something that was flagrant, it was egregious and effective immediately that's going to be looked at a very aggressive level which could include suspension without pay," Anderson said.