NFL 2014 Rule Changes
The NFL is again tweaking some of its rules this offseason.
Each year, the competition committee reviews rule proposals submitted by teams, which are then voted on by team owners.
Here are the changes which will be take effect in 2014:
- During a replay review, officials will now be allowed to consult with 'officiating department' in New York - basically the NFL headquarters. It seems this would ensure that if officials have a question regarding interpretation of a rule, they can simply ask if they're right or wrong. One example that comes to mind: that opening week Monday night game two years ago between the Packers and Seahawks. There was an interception in the endzone that was close to a 'simultaneous possession.' The refs ruled simultaneous possession and touchdown, ending the game in favor of the Seahawks...it was just a bad call, however, I can understand how you could make that mistake. Had this rule been in place, and replacement officials not been on the field, this likely wouldn't have happened.
- The goal posts will be extended five-feet into the air. Sometimes you see a ball that goes over one of the uprights, and of course there is always the question: 'Would that have hit the upright, and if it did, would it have deflected through or bounced back into the endzone?'' In this video from NFL.com, the discussion indicates there was talk of raising the uprights 10 or 20-feet higher, but there were structural concerns regard the crossbar's ability to support that much more additional weight. So, they settled on five-feet.
- Speaking of the uprights, it will now be a 15-yard penalty if a player 'dunks' the ball over the crossbar of the goal post. Many have said that this is an expansion of the league's rule forbidding use of the ball as a prop during a touchdown celebration. But, I ask, if you were to just spike the ball - as dozens of players do - aren't you using it as a prop? I think you are. There have been instances in the past were players 'dunked' the ball causing the goal posts to shift or tilt, and it has lead to delays in the game as crews worked to straighten the uprights. I think this is more about that, combined the upright's being longer and heavier, than it is about the ball being a prop.
- Also, NFL.com explains what may be called the Navorro Bowman rule: The "NaVorro Bowman Rule" was passed. That allows the officials to make the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play a reviewable call. This loophole was exposed when Bowman clearly recovered a ball in the NFC Championship Game last year, but the play couldn't be under review. It was a terrible call in a huge game! Kudos to the league for addressing it before it happens again. (And, not that it had any impact on the play or rule change, you may remember it as the interception/fumble recovery that ended with Bowman's leg being bent the wrong way and tearing several ligaments in his knee - ugh!)
There is also talk of pushing the extra-point back to the 20 or 25-yard line, instead of the 2-yard line. Apparently the league will experiment with this during the preseason and the ball will be placed at the 20. Add yards of space between the kicker/holder from the line, plus ten more yards to cross the end-zone...It may not be long before NFL extra-points are like 40-yard kicks! It's being done to address the ease of extra points - which are made about 98% of the time. Kickers should still be able to convert, but certainly not at a rate of 98%. Also, consider if you plan to attempt a 2-point conversion, you would now be trying to get in from the 20, not the 2.
For more on the rules that didn't pass, or were tabled, check out this article from Gregg Rosenthal at NFL.com.