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NFL Owners Nix 'Leaper Play,' Vote to Streamline Replay

NFL Owners advanced through their business efficiently this week in Arizona and were able to vote on several 2017 Playing Rules Proposals* *on Tuesday.

Ownership voted to ban players from leaping over the line of scrimmage during field goals and extra point attempts, approving a proposal that had been submitted by Philadelphia. Elimination of that play is designed to increase player safety.

The NFL did not make any expansions to the use of replay by coaches, which was suggested in multiple proposals. The league did, rather, vote to streamline the use of replay to a handheld tablet that will be viewed by referees before the final decisions are made from a centralized location.

The other playing rules that were approved on Tuesday include several that had been presented by the NFL Competition Committee.

Approved rule change proposals:

By Philadelphia: Prohibit players from running forward and leaping over a long snapper to block a field goal or extra point. *Reason: Player safety*

By Competition Committee: Make permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls (throwing a punch or kicking whether contact occurs, abusive language, taunting). *Reason: Player safety and integrity of the game*

By Competition Committee: Change the spotting of the football to the 25-yard line after kickoffs that result in a touchback for the 2017 season. Backstory — this went into effect last year, and the committee would like an additional year of data before determining if this should be a permanent change. *Reason: Player safety*

By Competition Committee: Extend defenseless receiver protection to players during routes. *Reason: Player safety*

By Competition Committee: Prohibit "crackback" blocks by a backfield player who is in motion even if he is not more than 2 yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped. *Reason: Player safety*

By Competition Committee: Replace a sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and allow designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision from a centralized location. Commissioner Roger Goodell highlighted this in a letter to fans last week. *Reason: Greater efficiency and consistency in the replay process.*

By Competition Committee: Add a rule to prohibit a team from committing multiple fouls during the same down in an attempt to manipulate the game clock. The penalty would be a loss of 15 yards and the game clock would be reset to where it was at the snap. *Reason: Competitive fairness*

By Competition Committee: Make actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half with a substitution violation; or if an on-field ruling is reversed and the correct ruling would not have stopped the game clock, officials will run 10 seconds off the clock—either team could use a timeout to prevent the run-off. *Reason: Greater consistency in application of timing rules*

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Approved bylaw proposals:

By Competition Committee:Liberalize rules for timing, testing and administering physical examinations of draft-eligible players at a club's facility for one year only. *Reason: Make the college scouting process "more equitable for all clubs."*

By Competition Committee: Change procedures for returning a player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness to the Active List to be similar to those for returning a player that was Designated for Return. Backstory— Players who report to camp unable to perform services as a player can be placed on the Reserve/PUP or Reserve/NFI lists. Players on those lists are ineligible for games and practices but can attend meetings. The current wording creates a window after a club's sixth game (including a bye week) to the day after the club's 11th game (including a bye week) in which clubs can begin practicing players for up to 21 days. The player can be restored at any point during the 21-day window. This proposal would eliminate language that closes the window the day after the 11th game. *Reason: Provides clubs greater roster flexibility*

By Competition Committee:The League office will transmit a Personnel Notice to clubs on Sundays during training camp and preseason. *Reason: Provides clubs more roster flexibility*

Approved resolution for 2017:

By Competition Committee: Allow contract or non-contract non-football employee to interview with and be hired by another club during the playing season, provided the employer club has consented. Reason: "Acknowledges the different hiring calendar for non-football employees. In certain situations, it is more opportune for the employer club to have a non-football employee leave during the playing season."**

Ownership tabled:

A proposal to shorten the length of overtime in preseason and regular-season games from a maximum of 15 minutes to 10 minutes was tabled for consideration at a later date.

Rule change proposal that failed:

By Washington: If a kickoff goes through the uprights, the return team will receive the ball at the 20-yard line instead of the 25. Backstory — the league placed the ball at the 25 instead of the 20 after kickoffs that resulted in touchbacks last season on a one-year basis, which was passed again for 2017. *Reason: Player safety*

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