LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Every year, NFL owners meet to discuss improvements to the league and how they can continue to grow the brand.
This year, owners have made some major decisions, mostly headlined with the approval of the Raiders relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas. But they also voted on some rule changes that they believe will speed the game and improve player safety.
However, they decided on postponing until their May meeting in Chicago a decision on potentially allowing more creativity in player celebrations.
Commissioner Roger Goodell asked that any adjustments in the rules be tabled so he could meet with players to “bring clarity to the rules while allowing players more ability to celebrate” while avoiding over-the-top demonstrations. He can expect lots of feedback from those players.
They also decided to table the discussion on shortening the overtime period from 15 minutes to 10 minutes.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the approved changes that will be in effect for the 2017 season.
New Rule: Unsportsmanlike Conduct/ Leaping
This rule change directly addresses the emerging strategy of players leaping over the line of scrimmage to block extra point attempts or field goal attempts.
Players and coaches and the league all considered this as a major safety risk. Now, special team coordinators will have to come up with a new creative way to try and get to the kick with out putting their players in harms way.
New Rule: Stronger Enforcement Of Penalties For “Very Eregious” Hits
The competition committee identified several plays from the 2016 season that they claimed were so violent and counter to existing rules that they wanted them “out of our game,” according to chairman Rich McKay.
Just like in the NCAA, the NFL will now enforce a strict penalty of a player’s ejection if they deem they made a dangerous helmet-to-helmet hit targeting a defenseless player. The flag also will result in a 15-yard walk-off and an automatic first down for the team on the receiving end.
New Rule: Intentional Fouls/Unsportsmanlike Conduct
What this means is that teams will now be penalized 15 yards, and the game clock will be restored if they commit multiple fouls on the same play in an effort to manipulate the game clock.
This strategy was employed by the 49ers last year, where in a game against the Saints, they committed a defensive holding violation on every receiver they were defending during a two-minute drill. They were only penalized a 5-yard penalty in exchange for important time that wasted off the game clock.
New Rule: Centralized Replay Review
No longer will referees have to go under the “hood” to review plays. Instead, owners approved for the final say on replay reviews and challenges to come from senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino and his supervisory crew, who will work from the league’s New York command center.
Refs still will be able to communicate in the decision via wireless headsets and a video tablet. The competition committee estimates that quicker review turnarounds could shave up to 1 1/2 minutes per game.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)