Serious NFL Rule Changes Loom Over Owners Meetings

by Charlie Greenwald 3-25-14

© SEAN GARDNER/Reuters/Corbis

© SEAN GARDNER/Reuters/Corbis

Early in the NFL 2012 regular season, Ravens placekicker Justin Tucker kicked a game-winning field goal against the New England Patriots as time expired. Bill Belichick made contact with an official arguing the call, claiming that the field goal post was not high enough to make a determination about whether or not the kick was good. Now, it appears as if something is actually being done to make that call a little easier.

The New England Patriots have submitted a proposal to make the field goal posts 5 feet higher, one of 13 potential rule changes that will be presented by the league’s competition committee at the owners’ meeting next week in Orlando, Fla. Several of these rules could have significant impacts on officiating in the league.

All the possible rule changes, which were mostly suggested by the Patriots or Washington Redskins organization, are in early developmental stages and would need to be approved by 24 of 32 teams next week.

Several of the more hotly contested rules involve the kicking game. The Redskins have proposed moving up kickoffs to the 40-yard line, just several years after kickoffs had been moved to the 35. Additionally, the Patriots have also asked to move the line of scrimmage for extra points back from the 2-yard line to the 25, which has seen a lot of support from upper management, despite opposition from kickers like Tucker.

“It’s a hot topic obviously,” said Rich McKay, the competition committee chairman and the CEO of the Atlanta Falcons. “But I think you need to add a little more skill to the extra point.”

Instant replay is also subject to change if some proposals are passed. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has suggested that instant replay be expanded to a larger variety of plays, including personal foul calls and replay challenges.

The meetings begin Monday in Orlando.