One of the purposes of the spring NFL Owners Meetings is the presentation from the NFL competition committee on any proposed changes to the rules, followed by a vote on the proposals by the owners. Here are some of the newest rules voted on by the owners to be in place for the 2012 season:
Overtime. One of the more debated topics last year involved changing the sudden-death format of overtime, which the league voted in favor of, but only for the playoffs. Today, the NFL voted to change the regular-season overtime rules to match the post-season overtime rules. There never should have been a difference.
Defenseless Player Rule. The NFL voted to expand the defenseless player rule to include crackback blocks. Players are already prohibited from blocking too low and this is supposed to stop players from blocking too high. Getting the enforcement of these rules just right will be the tricky part.
Instant Replay. The Buffalo Bills proposed that replays be handled by an official in the booth upstairs, and not by the referee on the field, to make the review process faster, more accurate, without crowd distraction and to eliminate the referee from having to reverse his own crew's original call. The league voted against this proposal, allowing the referees to retain the right to review replays on the field.
Instant Replay for Turnovers. What has changed is that now all turnovers are subject to booth reviews, just as all scoring plays are. And similar to scoring plays, it won't be reviewed unless the referee calls it a turnover on the field.
Horse Collar Exception. The Steelers organization proposed a rule that would have made it illegal to yank down a quarterback in the pocket using a horse collar tackle. But oddly the league voted against the change and the exception still stands.
12 Men on the Field Penalty. This rule change was sparked by the recent Super Bowl, and mandates that a 12-men-on-the-field infraction will now be a dead-ball penalty.
Four other bylaws were tabled until May for more study and input.
1. Moving the trade deadline from Week Six to Week Eight.
2. Increasing the offseason and training camp roster limit from 80 to 90.
3. Allowing one roster exemption per week for a player who’s inactive with a concussion.
4. Allowing a player who’s put on injured reserve early in the season to return to the field after eight weeks, rather than having all players on injured reserve automatically out for the season.