Postive Rule Changes Out of Owners' Meetings

NFL owners agreed to a number of rule changes that you'll want to know about.

At their meeting in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, NFL owners decided to make a few changes before the start of the 2006 season. Here are the most important ones:

Celebrations: Players can't use the football as a prop, nor can they be on the ground while celebrating a touchdown. Also, referees will warn any player whose celebration is prolonged or excessive. If the player stops immediately upon being warned by a referee, no penalty for excessive celebrating will be called. If not, he'll draw an unsportsmanlike penalty flag.

Upon Further Review: Officials will have just 60 seconds rather than 90 to view replays before making their decision.

New to Instant Replay: The "down by contact" rule that prevented legitimate fumbles from being reviewed will no longer be an obstacle. All fumbles will be eligible for review.

More QB protection: Low hits on quarterbacks will no longer be allowed anytime the rusher has the ability to avoid that kind of contact. With the helmet off limits as well, the hitting zone for a quarterback is becoming similar to the strike zone in baseball.

Tightening up the "horse collar" tackle: Last year owners voted to prohibit allowing tacklers to grab the shoulder pads of a runner to pull them down from behind due to the high risk of serious injury. What they didn't count on was players doing the same thing using the collar of the jersey instead. It was too hard to tell the difference, so neither technique will be allowed in 2006.

Onside kicks: Too reduce the oncoming freight train effect of the onside kick, owners decided that teams will have to place at least four players on each side of the kicker. Do the math and that means the most lopsided it can get would be six players on one side, four on the other.

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