The NFL annual league meeting was held yesterday, and while there was lots of buzz around the Saints, their bounty programs, and their punishments, there was still time to talk about how football would look next year. Amidst that talk, four major rules changes were made; here they are.
- Regular season overtime will now match playoff overtime. When the NFL changed the overtime rule last year to say that each team had to have possession of the ball at least once (unless a TD was scored), they held off on imposing the rule during the regular season, for fear of changing too much too soon. Now, the overtime in both regular and playoff season will match up — each team must have the ball at least once.
- Booth officials now have more power. Although the Bills didn’t get to have every replay review handled by booth officials, like they wanted, there were still some changes to the booth officials’ duties and responsibilities. These officials will now be able to replay reviews on fumbles, interceptions, backward passes, muffed kicks recovered by an opponent, and behind the line passes, also recovered by the opponent.
- Too many men. In the old rules (the ones that stood on Tuesday,) teams were simply given yardage when the opposing team had too many men. Now though, the play will be called a dead ball foul when there are too many men in formation.
- No more crackback blocks. Players who clip or block from below the waist are now considered to be defenseless players, and cannot be hit in the head or the neck.
These were the only changes that were actually made in yesterday’s meeting. However, there were still many issues left to be decided, and those will be tabled until May. No one’s worried, though. Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons, said coming out of the meeting, “There is not necessarily resistance. They do not need to be passed today. We will pass them in May.”