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Game-Changers? Possible Rule Changes Discussed This Week

Posted Mar 24, 2014

The NFL has grown into America’s most popular sports league largely because of its rich history and tradition, which is passed along to fans from generation to generation. But another reason the game has maintained its popularity and greatness is because the NFL’s stewards are not afraid to make adjustments to the game that yield a safer and fairer product.

Each offseason the NFL’s Competition Committee recommends, and the NFL’s owners consider, changes to the playing rules. The 2014 offseason is no different. Here’s a quick look at some of this year’s proposals, which could be considered by NFL owners this week at their annual meeting.

For a complete rundown of the Competition Committee’s discussion on potential rules changes to be considered by owners this week, click here.

Extra Point No More?
Not so fast! There has been a lot of discussion this offseason about changes to, or the elimination of, the extra point. But according to NFL.com’s Judy Battista, one member of the NFL’s Competition Committee said there is little momentum to do anything to alter the extra point this year.

Expanding the Playoffs
There’s been talk of the NFL expanding its playoff field, with one proposal calling for one additional playoff team in each conference. This would eliminate one first-round bye, giving a bye to only the top seed in each conference and thus adding one playoff game on Wild Card Weekend. NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal says, however, that while the committee continues to support expanding the playoffs, it’s not something that will be voted on by owners this week.

Adjusting Review Process
Since NFL owners adopted back into the game instant replay in 1999, changes have been made to the process in order to improve and streamline the process. More adjustments could be coming this year, including a proposal to have the referee on the field consult with the command center in New York City to get a call correct. A couple other potential tweaks to the review process includes a proposal brought forth by the Washington Redskins that would allow coaches to challenge personal fouls as well as a proposal that would allow the review of a recovery of a loose ball in the field of play (seems like a no-brainer).

Moving Kickoffs to the 40 (essentially eliminating kickoff returns)
Teams that don’t have game-changing kickoff returners may not have to worry about finding one, while teams that do have game-changing kickoff returners, such as the Vikings with Cordarrelle Patterson, may lose a sizeable advantage. While Rosenthal calls this one a “long shot,” it should still make those who love to see kickoff returns shake their heads.

Odds and Ends
A few other proposals:
-- Elimination of overtime in preseason games.
-- Allowing a team to open or close their roof at halftime of a game.
-- Placing a camera on all six boundary lines in order to have sufficient camera coverage for all replay reviews.
-- Allowing more than one player per team to return from injured reserve to the active roster
-- Raising the number of active players on game day from 46 to 49 when teams play on Thursday (or Saturday), excluding Week 1.
-- Cutting down final rosters from 90 players in training camp right to the 53-man roster (eliminating the cut from 90 to 75).
-- The clock should run after all sacks

Focus on Player Safety
Often times, the rules changes adopted by the NFL’s owners have player safety in mind. By the time teams open training camps this summer, expect several tweaks and points of emphasis on rules to be adopted in order to make the game safer for everyone involved.