Football is a game of rules and two of the most prominent, those governing instant replay and overtime, were tweaked by the National Football League owners Wednesday.
In all, five rules proposals and two bylaws were changed by the exclusive membership of owners during their annual meetings being held in Palm Beach, Fla.
Just a year removed when the talks were focused on the lockout and collective bargaining agreement, this year’s meeting stands in stark contrast – this year, the owners are actually taking up football-related matters.
In addition to approving rules that would make it a loss of down for kicking a loose ball; making the penalty for too many men on the field a dead-ball foul unless the extra player was in the process of getting off the field; and giving the recipient of a crack-back block the protection of being a defenseless player, meaning any direct shots to the head would be a penalty, the owners also addressed instant replay and overtime.
Though some thought that giving the booth official the power to review all turnover plays might lengthen the game, the competition committee argued it might actually lessen the time because most coaches wait for the commercial break that follows most turnovers to throw the challenge flag.
Under the new rule the replay official in the booth would make his decision during the timeout.
In addition, the owners agreed to adopt the postseason rule that each team must have a possession in OT unless the first possession results in a TD, ala Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos last season in their playoff game.
These are good rules that will help the game proceed in an orderly fashion. The overtime rule brings consistency to the game as coaches can prepare their team for the same scenarios during the regular season as they do during the playoffs.
As for instant replay, any changes the league can make to that rule will only make it better. This new rule takes some of the control out of the hands of the officials on the field, but that’s OK. Sitting on high, the booth official will be able to address the situation immediately and should be able to come to a decision in a quicker, more methodical way.
So here are some rules changes that will help give the game a couple of new wrinkles, a couple of new ways to keep the fans’ interest piqued.