The annual NFL owners meetings are typically viewed from the outside as little more than a bunch of millionaires and billionaires getting together in plush accommodations to consume high-end beverages, smoke cigars and compare their relative wealth.
While there may be a grain of truth to that, when NFL owners meet starting Sunday at their annual spring owners meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., they’re going to vote on 19 proposed rules changes, including an important proposal brought forward by the Minnesota Vikings – a proposed rules change that, at face value, would appear to make perfect sense.
The proposal brought forward by the Vikings would amend Rule 15, Section 2 dealing with coaches’ challenges. It would ask the league to eliminate the requirement that a team be successful on each of its first two instant replay challenges in order to get a third challenge. The proposal would change the rule that a team can lose up to two challenges, but not be penalized for losing one of two.
The owners will be discussing several other potential rules changes that come from different sources, with the majority of them coming from the league’s Competition Committee, which forwarded nine of the 19 rules changes to be discussed.
The changes proposed by the Competition Committee include both on-field and off-field changes.
The on-field proposals include permanently moving extra points to the 15-yard line and allowing defenses to potentially return missed attempts for two points, making all chop blocks illegal, ejecting players that have committed two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a game, moving the spot of the ball from a touchback on a free kick to the 25-yard line, expanding the horse-collar tackle rule to include when a defender grabs a jersey at the name plate or above and pulls the player to the ground, eliminating a 5-yard penalty for an eligible receiver illegally touching a pass after being out of bounds and re-establishing himself in bounds and changing it to a loss of down, and eliminating multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul after a change of possession.
The Competition Committee also proposed allowing offensive and defensive play callers on the coaching staff to use the coach-to-player communication system regardless of whether those play callers are on the field or in the coaches booth.
Several teams are also going to have rules change proposals heard at the owners meetings.
Baltimore made two proposals. One would require players to wear jerseys with numbers appropriate to their positions. The other is a competing proposal to the Vikings’ replay suggestion. It would call for a team to have up to three challenges and would also ask that plays eligible to be reviewed to be expanded.
Buffalo forwarded a proposal that would permit a coach to challenge any official’s decision other than scoring plays or turnovers – which are automatically reviewed.
Carolina is proposing a rules change that would expand the definition of what is intentional grounding by a quarterback.
Kansas City is forwarding two proposals. The first deals with penalties that occur in an area where a foul is deemed to be half the distance to the goal. It would expand the definition to penalty yards equal to the distance needed to gain a first down. The second proposal, which may end up being called the Peyton Manning Rule, would prohibit quarterbacks from falling to the ground, getting up and then throwing a forward pass.
The final three proposals were made by Washington. The first asks to eliminate overtime in preseason games, which, if common sense dictates, should pass unanimously. The second is identical to the Vikings replay proposal of requiring two successful challenges to get a third. The final proposal is to make personal-foul penalties subject to instant replay review.
While some think the owners meetings are little more than a luxury spring getaway, there is serious business that will take place and be done. It will just be masked under the opulence of their surroundings in Boca Raton.