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Saturday, September 7, 2013 5:18:41 PM(UTC)
There will be several new rules this year, most with a focus on enhancing player safety. Player safety has been a priority for several years now, both in terms of new rules and rules enforcement. The NFL coordinates with the NCAA in these efforts. By sharing information, we can both learn from each other. One area of attention for both the NFL and the NCAA has been protection of the defenseless player. Since the NCAA cannot fine their players, it is often more challenging for them to change player behavior. For this reason, the NCAA added a rule this year that permits officials to immediately expel a player from a game for hitting a defenseless player in the head.
In the NFL, the new rule that’s received the most attention is the rule that prohibits a runner or tackler from initiating forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top or crown of his helmet when both players are clearly outside the tackle box. This rule is part of a larger effort to eliminate the use of the helmet as a weapon. Some people have expressed concern that the new rule may be called too often. It will be interesting to see how it is officiated, but I don’t think it will be called too frequently, since, for the foul to be called, a player must line up his opponent, lower his head and deliver a forcible blow with the crown of the helmet. There are several other new unnecessary roughness adjustments, including that defensive players are now prohibited from pushing down lineman into the offensive formation, the snapper on PATs and field goal attempts will now be considered a defenseless player, and the peel back block is now illegal anywhere in the field of play. Some have suggested that a quarterback running the read option should be afforded the same protection as a quarterback in the pocket. NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino recently stated that on the read-option play, the quarterback only has the protection of a runner.
A big change this year is that all players, with the exception of punters and kickers, will be required to wear thigh and knee pads. NFL players were required to wear these pads up until mid-1990s. The rule was dropped then because it was difficult to enforce. With the increased focus on player safety, the Competition Committee decided two years ago to reinstate the rule. Players will be removed from the game if they do not have the required pads.
The last two rule changes are non-safety related. The tuck rule is dead. If a quarterback tucks the ball and loses control of it, it is now a fumble. Finally, if a coach erroneously throws a challenge flag, the play will now be reviewed. The coach’s team will be charged a timeout, and if they are out of timeouts, it will be assessed as a 15 yard penalty.
i hate the tuck rule. glad it is gone.
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