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Owners Pass Rules Changes

Posted Mar 26, 2014

The NFL owners voted to approve rules changes that will take effect for the 2014 NFL season.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- When the 2014 NFL season kicks off, there will be a few minor changes to the game's rules and procedures. See below for a list of proposals that have passed.

1) Extending the goal posts upwards
The goal posts will be extended to be five feet taller, making it easier to determine whether kicks split the uprights.

2) Centralized replay system
NFL referees can consult with members of the NFL officiating department during replay reviews wirelessly. This is intended to help with both speed and accuracy of official reviews.

"We expect it to speed up the process and be more efficient for us," NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino said. "We can communicate with the referee immediately as soon as he’s done making his announcement, we can start that conversation as to what we’re going to look at and what he is going to see. There isn’t that delay of getting over to the monitor, putting the headset on and having a 45 second discussion. We think it will be more efficient, accurate and consistent."

"This is strictly tied to replay reviews," he continued. "The referee is the only official that we can communicate with. We can’t communicate with the other six officials."

As for how the league will handle multiple reviews at the same time?

"There will be a small group; myself, Al Riveron, the senior director of officiating, will have monitors, but there will be a small group of people that will actually be speaking to referees so we can adjudicate multiple reviews that happen at the same time," Blandino explained.

3) Recovery of fumbles in the field of play are now reviewable
This change had been nicknamed the "NaVorrow Bowman Rule" after the play in which he had clearly recovered a fumble in the 2013 NFC Championship Game, but the play wasn't reviewable.

4) Clock won't stop on sacks

5) Dunking the ball over the goalposts as a celebration will be a penalty
"I think the reasoning behind it is disruption of the game and the inability to in some stadiums to be able to correct the goalposts themselves because of the way they are put in," Atlanta Falcons Prsident and CEO and NFL Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay said. "(In some venues) when you get them off angle, they’re not coming back during that game time, which creates a little bit of a problem of where the kicker is going to kick. When we changed the rules about props way back when we had some issues with some things that were going on on the field and it dealt with sportsmanship, we left a number of things in. We said the ‘Lambeau Leap’ was ok and you can do it because it was a traditional thing. I don’t think we ever contemplated that the goalpost would ever be thrown off kilter in games and there be a 20-minute delay of the game as they try to right them. When you add five feet to the top and make them even heavier, I think we were concerned about how it would impact a game from a competitive standpoint. That’s why the rule modification took place."

The competition committee also made spotsmanship a point of emphasis in 2014.

"We are going to clean the game up on the field between the players," said St. Louis Rams Head Coach and Competition Committee Member Jeff Fisher. "The in-your-face taunting, those types of things. The language, it’s all in the book, it’s all under unsportsmanlike conduct. There is no change in the rule, we are going to enforce the current rule."

"The committee’s position on this, in the past, taunting and sportsmanship is in the back of the book under points of emphasis," Fisher continued. "It is now in the front of the book. It falls in our book right after all the statistical things which were good about our game last year. So it is now a front-of-the-book issue. What we want to do is we want to put it back in the back of the book."

There were other rules that were discussed without a decision being reached. These following proposals have been tabled until the next set of meetings in May.

1) Eliminating overtime in preseason games

2) Expanding the practice squad from eight to 10 players.

3) Expanding active gameday rosters for Thursday night games to 49.

4) Allowing teams to open their roof during halftime at games for weather reasons.

5) Adding cameras to all goal lines, sidelines and end lines to help ensure better angles for replay reviews.

Rule proposals that failed:

1) Expanding reviewable plays to include personal fouls

2) Making all plays reviewable

"The support among the coaches was less than 50 percent," Fisher said. "That kind of gives you an idea. As Rich said, we are going to take a look at replay. We have to look at our entire system. With technology changing and the fact that the membership agreed to allow Dean’s group to oversee and consult with officials this year is a major step. We are constantly evaluating our replay system because we all want to get things right."

3) Moving the kickoff to the 40-yard line

4) Eliminating the training camp roster cutdown to 75 players
This would make it so there would just be one cutdown to 53.

5) Moving the extra point attempt back to the 25-yard line.
The league will experiment by kicking extra point attempts from the 20-yard line in Weeks 1 and 2 of the preseason.

"This is kind of where the discussion went," Fisher said. "We had lengthy discussions, but in recent history, this is a new issue. It just came up this offseason. The committee was concerned about a rule being implemented without having the opportunity to go through the unintended consequences. We all feel like we need to do something, we’re just not quite sure what we are going to do with it yet. Everything spun off New England’s proposal. We decided to, instead of put it at the 25, to put it at the 20 and look at it in the first two weeks of the preseason to see if there are in fact things that come up. The committee, historically, has been very careful in recommending significant changes like that. So I think it’s a positive thing as far as the try is concerned."

6) Allowing an unlimited number of players on injured reserve to return to the active roster.

"We have a system of 53 and 46 and that system was designed to take injured players and allow them to be carried within that 53," Fisher said. "This would be going back to the old system before we had the 53 and 46, where injured reserve was used as a method to carry injured players. It would be a dramatic change in the system and wasn’t one that had any support."

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