The NFL adopted two more changes to its rules on Wednesday after approving seven changes on Tuesday.
The league decided at the conclusion of its owners meetings in Florida on Wednesday that a player will be ejected from a game after committing two unsportsmanlike penalties. Coaches at the owners meetings had expressed concerns with the proposal, causing the league to make it a one-year proposal and then study the effects.
“This was a rule that brought teeth to that,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “It brought an opportunity for the rules to reflect how the membership feels … sportsmanship is important to us.”
Last year, NFL players had a total of 75 unsportsmanlike penalties, according to Rich McKay, chairman of the Competition Committee.
In total this week, the committee heard 19 proposals for rules changes. Nine were approved, six were voted down (including four involving the expansion of instant replay), three were withdrawn and one that attempts to simplify what is not allowed to be reviewed by instant replay is being tabled for the owners meetings in May.
In addition to the new rule on the ejection of players, the other rule change that was approved on Wednesday is that touchbacks on kickoffs will be placed at the 25-yard line in 2016, a change being implemented on a trial basis.
“There was the thought that there could be some more short kicks so we’ll see,” McKay said.
McKay spent the most time on Wednesday addressing an adopted rule change from Tuesday that eliminates chop blocks – one offensive player engaging a defender up high and another offensive player then blocking him low – altogether.
“It has been a part of our game for a long time. There have been plenty of teams that have relied on that technique. It is not one that has overwhelmed us in injury data, but it is not one that we have felt good about over the years as we continue to limit that play and where it was legal,” McKay said. “And this year we were able to eliminate it completely.”
The NFL also approved a proposal that eliminates the need for a team to designate in advance one player they wish to have return from injured reserve. In previous years, teams were allowed one player to potentially return from injured reserve, but they had to designate which player that would be when they placed him on injured reserve. Now teams aren’t required to make that designation in advance, but they can still choose one player to return to practices after spending six weeks on the reserve list.
“It allows you the flexibility of not having to designate that player when you put that player on injured reserve or non-football injury,” McKay said.
The injured player can still practice after six weeks and can play after eight weeks, but now he doesn’t have to be given that “designated to return” label until he is going to return to practice.
OTHER NFL BUSINESS
- The NFL will have a regular-season game in China in 2018 as the league explores ways to expand its reach into other market. “We’re excited for that potential and will continue to have dialogue on that,” Goodell said.
- The Los Angeles Rams will be the featured team this year in the HBO series “Hard Knocks.”
- Goodell said there will be no change to New England Patriots’ discipline for so-called DeflateGate. The Patriots were stripped of draft picks for their role in underinflated footballs used in the 2014 AFC Championship Game.
- Goodell said the NFL and NFL Players Association “are not close” to changing the way that discipline is enforced.
- The NFL and their coaches and owners talked about the amount of time coaches can spend with players, but the NFL will honor the Collective Bargaining Agreement it has with the players. However, the Rams were permitted to spend time with their players this offseason talking about the relocation to Los Angeles from St. Louis, which has spurred talk about allowing teams to spend more offseason time with players discussing “life skills,” according to Goodell, but that would not include any football activities.
- On the potential of having a franchise relocate in Las Vegas, as the Oakland Raiders have suggested, Goodell said gambling would be a factor in owners voting on that. “I think their ultimate decision is a long ways off. There are several cities that have a tremendous interest in the Raiders,” Goodell said. “I’m hopeful that Oakland will be one of those and we can avoid any relocation to start with.”