How Far Will Celebration Rule Go?

NFL owners voted to restrict the use of props for end zone celebrations. Jeffrey Lurie was one of three owners to vote against the restrictions, joining the Cowboys and Buccaneers in the vote. The new rule could have some interesting ramifications though.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has no problem with the end zone celebrations that have become so common place in the NFL. Unfortunately for Lurie, 29 other owners do take exception with the celebrations and voted to further restrict what players can do to celebrate.

The new rule disallows dropping to the ground and using props. So, what happens when a player drops to one knee in a prayer of thanksgiving to celebrate a touchdown? As the rule reads, that sort of "celebration" is now illegal. It will be interesting to see how and if that is enforced as part of the rule change. None of the owners voting against the restricted celebrations mentioned that as their reason for opposing the rule and none in favor voiced that as a reason why they supported the rule. In all honesty, the issue of a prayer of thanksgiving wasn't discussed as part of the debate on the new rule.

Other rule changes were passed along closer - although not exactly close - votes.

Last year, owners rejected a proposal to make down-by-contact calls reviewable on instant replay. They reversed themselves this year and by a vote of 27-5, made the calls reviewable. One study showed that just 12 such calls from last season would have been overturned.

Owners provided further safety for quarterbacks by voting to penalize defensive players who hit a quarterback at or below the knee if the quarterback has both feet on the ground. The rule will not apply if the player was blocked into the quarterback.

While Terrell Owens was likely part of the reasoning behind the end zone celebration rule change, he was also part of another change. Owens broke his foot when he was brought down in a horse-collar style tackle by Dallas safety Roy Williams. That tackle led to owners making that sort of tackle illegal for the 2005 season, but only two penalties were called for horse-collar tackles. This season, even grabbing a player by the back of the jersey will be a penalty.

Not all of the proposed rule changes passed. Every season, the Kansas City Chiefs propose having 14 playoff teams rather than 12 and every year it's rejected. This season though, the motion was tabled until May, but commissioner Paul Tagliabue says he is against the expansion of the playoffs, meaning it probably won't go anywhere until after he leaves office. The Buccaneers also offered up a proposal to make all penalties reviewable, but that proposal was rejected by an overwhelming vote.

Speaking of having plays reviewed; refs will have to act faster next season since they will now have just 60 seconds from the time that they go "under the hood" to review the play. In the past, they had 90 seconds.

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