Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a bill that requires coaches to remove any player who shows signs of a concussion. Those students would need to be cleared by a doctor before they can compete again.
All public and private school districts in the Garden State also would have to develop policies to handle head injuries.
Christie signed the bill at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford. He was joined by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, New York Jets Chairman and CEO Woody Johnson, and several former New York Giants defensive players.
Christie said the legislation lets children know that the first and most important job is to take care of themselves.
"This is not about someone not willing to play hard in whatever sport they're in," the governor said. "This is about protecting someone's long-term health from being overwhelmed by the sense of competition we sometimes feel in our country."
Christie said he hopes the message to student athletes is clear: "Above anything you do on the sports field, your first and most important job is to take care of yourself."
Attention to concussions among pro and student athletes has increased over the year and national athletic and medical groups have made recommendations to address the problem.