Proposed rule changes highlight owners meetings

It won’t be All-Saints Week, or Tim Tebow Total Excess at the annual meeting of the NFL owners this week at the posh Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach., Fla.

The Saints are certain to be the overriding topic at Commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference on Monday because of the harsh penalties levied by Goodell last week for the bounty program they ran from 2009-2011.

And the ramifications of the trade that sent Tebow to the Jets from the Broncos will be one of the hottest topics discussed among media, coaches and club officials.

(Has anyone seen a billboard of Tebow at the Breakers – or are the hotel’s lush environs off limits?)

But there actually is some important business at hand regarding proposed rules changes and other issues related to actually playing the game.

Three rules changes that were proposed by teams involve instant replay, horse-collar tackles and overtime.

Two rule changes, submitted by the Competition Committee, involve the penalty for too many men on the field and a change in instant replay.

A number of changes in the bylaws will be discussed. The most significant are a proposal to push back the trade deadline, a so-called “injured-reserve exception” that would allow teams to reinstate one player from the injured-reserve list and another that would allow teams to add a player to the active list in place of another who has a concussion.

All changes must be approved by a 75-percent majority vote (24 of 32) of the owners.

This is a breakdown of the major rules proposals:

Instant replay: All decisions would be made by a replay official in the press box as opposed to the referee on the field. The proposal was submitted by Buffalo.

The Competition Committee is asking that the replay official also review all turnovers – similar to the way it reviews all scoring plays.

Horse-collar: This is tackling a player by yanking on the back of his jersey or shoulder pads, and quarterbacks currently are exempt if they are tackled while still in the pocket. The proposed change, submitted by Pittsburgh, would make the horse collar against the rules in the pocket.

Overtime: Pittsburgh also is proposing that the overtime rule in the regular season be the same as in the playoffs. Currently, the first team to score in the regular season wins the game. Both teams must have possession in the playoffs.

Too many men on the field: The current rule calls for a 5-yard penalty. The proposal would make it a dead-ball penalty, assessing the five yards by not taking any time off the clock.

There are other limits to this proposal, but the intent is to prevent teams from deliberately putting a extra player or more on the field – especially on defense – to protect a lead late in the game.

These are the major bylaws changes under discussion:

Trade deadline: Teams are discussing pushing it back two weeks, from after the sixth week of the regular season to the eighth week.

Injured reserve: Teams can designate one player who is on the roster through the first regular-season game and sustains a major injury to be eligible to return later in the season. He could begin practicing with the team six weeks after going out and resume playing eight weeks after going on the list.

Concussion/inactive: One player who has been diagnosed with a concussion can be replaced on the 53-player active list by another player. The player with the concussion can be restored to the active list when he is cleared to return.