Most Interesting Potential Rule Changes at NFL Owners Meeting
As I sit and write this, it is 15 degrees in Green Bay — March 25th be damned. At least the sun is shining obnoxiously bright off of the newest layer of fresh snow. That paints a prettier picture out my window than the dirt-caked ice we’ve been dealing with since the snow finally began to recede. If the world is getting warmer, then it is hotter at the edges and colder in the middle, which makes for a cruel irony for us, but as Colonel Jessup once said — “Is there another kind?”
As members of the glorious 1 percent and Masters of the Universe, NFL owners have gathered this week in Orlando to discuss possible changes to the NFL in between working on their tans. The complete rule changes being discussed are widely available elsewhere, and I’m not going to spend time here listing all of them. I will, however, discuss my feelings on the key issues and most likely changes.
The most popular rule change currently being considered is making the PAT a more difficult proposition and thus, a more interesting play. One could argue that the PAT is correctly an afterthought and doesn’t need to be more interesting, but besides that, I generally am copacetic to the idea. However, pushing the PAT all the way back to the 25-yard line is frankly a ludicrous over-adjustment that would greatly increase the kicker’s role in the game. In my mind, football games should be decided by football players. Allowing soccer players in pads and single-bar helmets to decide games is tantamount to having the referees determine the outcome.
The word is that the NFL is going to test drive the PAT change by having teams kick from the 20 during one week of the preseason. Moving the kick back to the 20 is a much more palatable adjustment for me. When the snow flies, there is a big difference between a 38-yard and a 43-yard kick.
Of course, as seems annual, the NFL is also considering the further expansion of replay to include the review of personal fouls, among other things. Unfortunately, originally a big proponent of replay, I am finding its use similar to the NFL being addicted to crack cocaine. The more you use it, the more you need it. The more you need it, the more it grows. Eventually, you rub your head and wonder how the hell did I get here?
Yes, it would be nice to have some recourse against the infamous personal foul call after a defensive back hit a receiver over the middle, where replay showed no contact to the head even occurred. However, ultimately what you will get is a lot more stoppages for only a precious few corrections. With the onus still being on player safety, I don’t see the refs overturning a lot of these calls no matter what the video shows. Leave it alone.
The NFL will also continue its push for eliminating kickoffs as it now considers moving the kickoff to the 40-yard line. This, of course, is the exact opposite of the “make the play more interesting” train of thought being applied to the PAT, but regardless, I doubt another change will happen so soon after the kickoff was moved up to the 35 just a couple years ago.
Of course, the NFL just instituted a rule to supposedly make the game safer by creating penalties for rolling up on the back and side of an opponent’s legs. God only knows how this is going to be enforced, and it’s sure to be a horror show, but whatever.
Finally, the most likely change to be made is the addition of another playoff team as early as the 2015 season. Like every other sports league, the NFL will push to make its regular season irrelevant so that it can rake in bigger dollars in the playoffs. As much as this is the opposite of what the NFL should probably be doing, I do like the idea of only the team with the best record in each conference getting the first round bye.
This pre-draft meeting is mostly a discussion of possible changes. The actual vote on most of these will probably come in the post-draft meeting in late May.
Stick through the drudgery with Total Packers, and I’ll follow up with another discussion of smaller changes the NFL should be making to improve the game.
Shawn Neuser attended UWGB and lives and works in Green Bay. He enjoys long walks on the beach and being intimate with game film.