At the upcoming league meetings, NFL owners will vote on 24 rules, bylaws and measures, ranging from radical shifts in the length of overtime to minor cosmetic details, like whether a team should be forced to wear those hideous Color Rush uniforms. These are the most interesting of the proposed rule changes, along with a thought on whether the NFL should make a change or keep the status quo.
Reduces the length of preseason and regular season overtime periods to 10 minutes
For what? Why?
The last five minutes of overtime is why you sit through the first 70 minutes of the game! That's where all the hilarious action takes place in ties - the chip-shot field goal misses, the late interceptions, time management from the Donovan McNabb school. Taking away the last five minutes of overtime is like making someone sit in traffic for three hours and then not even giving them the joy of rubbernecking when they finally pass the accident. This is all being proposed under the guise of "player safety." Come on. If you want to make players safe, have them play golf. Five more minutes of overtime hurts nothing, except perhaps a kicker's confidence.
Joe NicholsonJoe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Permit clubs to opt out of the “color rush” jerseys created for Thursday Night Football
This would be a lot better if the word "terminate" replaced everything before "the color rush jerseys." But some teams, like Seattle, I'm guessing, still are down with Color Rush so let them blind America, or whoever's watching TNF. But for other franchises, give them a get out of fashion jail for free card. Nobody wants to see the Dolphins look like traffic cones or the Redskins (the team that made this proposal based on a two-word reason: "garish uniforms") look like they're all pieces on a Risk board getting ready to invade Ukraine, before Kirk Cousins rolls snakeyes in the final minutes to doom the mission. (I don't know how to play Risk.)
Allow teams to wear an alternate helmet during the year
Teams must use the same helmet shell for the entire year, meaning that the Eagles can wear those sweet, sweet kelly green jerseys but still have to wear their dark green helmets as part of the throwback effort. Teams can change stickers, but the base color of the helmet stays the same because it's the same helmet all year. Why? Some committees said that new helmets were harder to break in, so they'd rather a player keep one helmet all year. For safety. (Forget that players often replace helmets after they've become cracked. Forget that the NCAA allows players to switch out helmets almost weekly. Forget that the science behind such a rule could be flawed or even more dangerous than that - say, if the break-in period was actually beneficial.) Aesthetics don't outweigh safety. If there were a smoking gun report saying switching helmets provides even the slightest more danger, the NFL would have to listen. There's not though and thus an alternate third helmet sounds fine, especially because it'll again let us see those beautiful bad boys pictured above.
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Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews
(Starts writing story shell for when the Microsoft Surface tablets stop working at Foxborough and Twitter goes crazy with Kraft/Belichick/Trump/Russia connections.)
Why do they make this so difficult? Ignore the on-field refs. Go to that big room in New York. Stick sets of two people in front of every game. Certify them as officials. Have them make the call after viewing every replay in real-time. Then, they can text/page/Snapchat/whatever the referee with the decision. This should take no longer than 30 seconds, maybe 45 if it's close. If it takes longer than 45 seconds to tell whether a replay should be upheld or overturned, then it's upheld. You don't have to look so closely for something that should be so obvious.
Andrew WeberAndrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Give additional protections for long snappers on kick plays
Oh, man up, long snappers. You get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to throw a ball under your legs a few times per game. The least you can do is pop up quickly to block.
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Expands the “crown of helmet” foul to include “hairline” part of helmet
Yes, because this clarification of the minutiae of at which angle a helmet hits an area of the body is just the specificity referees need to complete the already-impossible task of throwing flags on players charging at each other at the speed of a minor car crash.
Permanently move touchbacks to the 25-yard line. (It was a test rule change last year.)
This is an offense-aiding rule masquerading as a safety measure. Move touchbacks back to the 20. Teams with good kickers shouldn't have to only move the ball 33 yards to get into field-goal position. Now, 38? That's living.
Brad RempelBrad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Eliminates the limit of three total challenges per team
The fact that teams can get three challenges right and then be out of challenges is preposterous. If officials are that bad and teams are that good in spotting it, why should they be penalized for it? I loathe replay challenges and would rather eliminate them all together, but if you're going to have it, do it right. Teams get two challenges. For every challenge they get right, they get another challenge. You shouldn't lose something you just won. So, go 0-for-2, you're out. Go 1-2, which normally would leave you out of challenges, you still have another challenge and will keep having one until you get it wrong. But if this were to happen, the league would need to speed up replay review.
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The referee would be allowed to make replay announcements during commercial breaks, rather than waiting for the TV broadcast to resume
This is a start. I don't know how good of a start nor do I actually think the NFL nor TV networks would or should go for it. The NFL is a TV production. It's for the people at home, not the 65,000 people in attendance. We want to see the culmination of the review process that made us sit through another three Allstate commercials. What does leaving out the explanation save? A few seconds, at best - maybe more during an Ed Hochuli game? There's plenty of time to be had elsewhere. Don't deny us the one interesting, dramatic moment of reviews.
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Halftime becomes a standardized 13 minutes, 30 seconds
What does that mean though? Does the clock start the moment the second quarter ends? When every player gets in the tunnel? After coaches have given their insightful sideline interviews? What about those stadiums that require players to get to the locker room by walking through a labyrinthian maze of tunnels and corridors filled with Mexican newspaper executives looking to steal their shoulder pads? This sounds like a fine idea in theory but in practice, not so much.
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A 40-second clock after extra points would be instituted when going to a kickoff if there is not a commercial break
Don't they usually go to a commercial break after a touchdown? The whole point is to not have another commercial break after the kickoff, no?
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Moves the line of scrimmage to the 20-yard line for any touchback where the free kick travels through the uprights
This is both the greatest and dumbest idea the NFL has ever seen - and this is a league that once had a TV network air a blank screen before a game so viewers could use the bathroom. On one hand, this would add some actual excitement to kickoffs when the league has stripped most of it away. On the other, there's a reason the Arena League is the Arena League and the XFL is the XFL. Leave the gimmicks alone.
Charles LeClaireCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Permits a coach to challenge any officials’ decision except scoring plays and turnovers
No. No. No, no, no, no, no no. No. No, no. No. No. Seriously, no. You know what nobody has ever said while watching an NFL game? "Let's have more replays." If the whole idea is to streamline the game experience, having refs go to a tablet as much as an 8-year-old playing Minecraft is not a good start.
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Permits a club to negotiate and reach an agreement with a head coach candidate during the postseason prior to the conclusion of the employer club’s season
Coaches already essentially sign with teams before their season is over, it just doesn't become official until their year is complete. Kyle Shanahan is a perfect example. He basically agreed to terms with the 49ers, orchestrated a brilliant Super Bowl game plan in a dominant victory and then left for San Francisco, a celebrated hero in Atlanta.