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NFL Enacts New Rule Changes

This is what happened at the NFL Annual Meetings on Tuesday.

NFL: NFL Meetings Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is holding their annual meetings in Arizona this week, and as part of that meeting there have been several rules changes enacted. Here is a brief rundown of the new rules that will be affecting the Minnesota Vikings (and 31 less important NFL teams) this coming season.

Centralized replay review

Rather than officials going “under the hood,” there will be one centralized place for all replay decisions. This is similar to how the National Hockey League handles their replay situations, from what I can tell. All replay decisions will be made by the home office in Wahoo, Nebraska New York. Officials on the sidelines at the games will participate via tablets and wireless headsets.

“Leaping” on extra point and field goal attempts has been banned

Given what we saw from Linval Joseph last season against Indianapolis, this is probably a good thing for Minnesota. (Still don’t know why he thought that was a good idea.) But teams are now going to have to find new and creative ways to get pressure on field goals and extra points, because you’re not allowed to jump over the center anymore. The penalty for any team that does so will be an unsportsmanlike conduct call.

Penalties for “egregious hits” will be stronger

This isn’t so much a “rule change” as it is a point of emphasis. Officials will be more focused on violent hits this coming season and have (apparently) been encouraged to use their discretion when it comes to throwing people out of games for such hits. Since this is up to the judgement of the individual officials, I expect this to be nothing short of a complete clusterfudge and that it will result in several completely ridiculous ejections early in the season before everyone finally gets it together.

Unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for teams committing penalties to manipulate the clock

This is targeted towards teams that commit multiple fouls late in games for the purpose of running time off the clock when they’re ahead. There were times when teams would simply grab onto every available receiver during a two-minute drill, exchanging a holding penalty for the time that had run off the clock. If a team does that now, the time on the clock will be restored and the offending team will be penalized fifteen yards.

Overtime remains 15 minutes long. . .for now

The discussion on shortening the overtime to ten minutes was tabled until later this spring. So, for now, overtime remains fifteen minutes long for all preseason and regular season contests.

The NFL will likely be tweaking their celebration rules

We’ve long talked about how the NFL had become the “No Fun League” as far as scoring celebrations are concerned, and it looks like that might be changing. Roger Goodell has said that he wants to meet with a group of players before deciding exactly how to enact any new rules on the matter.

Here are the other rules that were passed, courtesy of the Vikings’ official website.

  • Touchbacks on kickoffs will still result in the ball being spotted at the 25-yard line. (Apparently there was talk of putting it back to the 20 where it used to be, but the league wants another year of data before making a final decision.)
  • “Defenseless receiver” protections have been extended to players running routes.
  • “Crackback” blocks by backfield players in motion have been prohibited.
  • Rules governing time running off the clock in the final two minutes of a half will be more consistently applied.

One particular rule that was shot down was proposed by the Washington Redskins, who proposed that if a kickoff went through the uprights, the receiving team would get the ball at the 20 rather than the 25. I don’t think that would have been a terrible idea, but it might have added some extra fun to things. . .and, as we know, the NFL won’t be having any of that.

But those are some of the new things that we can look for in 2017 across the National Football League, ladies and gentlemen.