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NFL Tweaks Rules for 2009

Just finished meeting with league game officials, who gave their annual media presentation on rule changes for the upcoming season. The 20-minute session began with a video explaining the revised rules and points of emphasis for officials, and included a brief question-and-answer exchange in the complex's auditorium.

Beginning this season, passes or fumbles by quarterbacks that have been ruled incomplete on the field and loose balls ruled to have hit the sideline can be reviewed. The pass/fumble change is in direct response to the mess that ensued last season after a game between the Broncos and Chargers in which a ball slipped from the hands of then-Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler.

The changes involving the ongoing effort to improve player safety include the elimination of:

--Blind-side blocks to the head or neck area of an opponent.

--Initial contact with the helmet, forearm or shoulder to the head or neck area of a defenseless receiver.

--A wedge formation involving more than two players on kickoff returns.

By Jason Reid  |  August 7, 2009; 2:58 PM ET
 
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Comments

foist?

Posted by: edvar | August 7, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe you aren't allowed to blind-side some schmo in the back of the head or neck just because he's playing football.

What is this game coming to?

Posted by: edvar | August 7, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

If a receiver is on offense, isn't he by nature defenseless?

So many questions...

Posted by: edvar | August 7, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

If there was no draft, there would only be like 8 teams in the league today. There would have NEVER been a Lombardi Trophy and the Packers he would have coached would have been out of existence by 1963.

The draft and revenue sharing is the reason why the NFL is what it is now.....

Posted by: 4thFloor | August 7, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Anybody...

Is this thing on?

Posted by: edvar | August 7, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

No News....

NFL is slowly becoming a soft league, they should have their anti-trust exemption pulled.....

Posted by: 4thFloor | August 7, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

sign Wally Kline...

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | August 7, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

If a receiver is on offense, isn't he by nature defenseless?

So many questions...

Posted by: edvar

that's bad ... but I laughed

Posted by: zcezcest1 | August 7, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Zeke. It's a slow day...

Posted by: edvar | August 7, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

New Rules for 2010.
- Players will no longer hit each other hard enough to fall over
- Players will no longer touch other players unless other players have the ball
- Players will be required to ware ribbons on their pants. If said ribbon is pulled out of pants player is down by contact.
- ESPN will only cover the Dallas Cowboys.

Posted by: alex35332 | August 7, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Greg, if there's not much truth to it, please tell me who's starting at RT.... I'm waiting....

Al, have you been under a rock, or out of touch or something?? Seriously?? Heyer is the starting RT, just like he was last year. What caused you to think that this was going to be anyone but him??

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | August 7, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Zeke's rule changes

After a safety, the team kicks from their goal line instead of the 20.

If a player is leaving the field quickly and almost at the sideline, the first occurrence gets a warning, not a penalty.

I know it sounds like nit-picking. Except I've seen at least 2 important plays that got called back because a guy wasn't quite off the field -- but obviously wasn't part of the play. One of those was in the SB with the jints and Pats -- and it gave the Pats a 1st down late in the game that eventually led to a missed FG attempt.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | August 7, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Dik - "And since when have rookie salaries been held DOWN by the draft.. they're consistently higher than warranted due to the violent nature of the game."

Why are rookies who haven't played a down entitled to more than veterans who have already been getting pounded? The game is no less violent for them. But the NFLPA doesn't want a rookie wage scale presumably under the premise that a rising tide raises all ships. But look at this.

Posted by: learnedhand1 | August 7, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

A rule I would like to see, and I know it gets jeers. The Scramble for the ball to determine possession in the open of a game ah la XFL.

Posted by: alex35332 | August 7, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

--Initial contact with the helmet, forearm or shoulder to the head or neck area of a defenseless receiver.

I’m not liking this verbiage. Shots to the head with helmet or forearm are pretty easy to identify. But a “shoulder to the neck area” of a receiver is how I typically envision a DB separating a receiver from the ball as he is trying to catch it. How are they going to determine how low you have to hit someone with your shoulder for it to be legal? “neck area” is pretty vague. I can see refs looking at some killer safeties (Laron Landry included here) who often bring enough wood to lay people out as tending to take illegal shots on “defenseless” receivers. It’s what happened to Mark Carrier, even before he came to the skins. The refs expected him to break the rules because of his rep and threw way more flags on the guy than they should have.

Posted by: dlhaze1 | August 7, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how the NFL defines "defenseless receiver"?

Will a DB get a penalty for hitting a receiver who jumps for the ball or ducks into the tackle?

Can a DB still tackle a receiver with their "helmet, forearm, or shoulder" after a they catch the ball? Or does the NFL plan on putting flags on the receiver's belts?

Just how can a player tackle an opponent without using their helmet, forearm, or shoulder?

Posted by: siris | August 7, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

The wedge thing (the Kevin Everett rule) is really really going to change the kicking and kick off return game ... and its not going to be any less violent.

Posted by: dcsween | August 7, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

New rule whichever team wins the coin toss wins the game

Posted by: GreatOne1 | August 7, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I think that if a called play is designed for a receiver to go over the middle deep and the QB is willing to throw it there, that the safety should be able to take his head off.

Don't like it? Don't call that play. Otherwise, man-up. We're all wearing helmets and pads. Coaches normally discourage their QB's from running a lot for risk of injury, so they don't design plays for that. Same thing here.

Why do we need some stupid, subjective, controversial, enraging penalty for this? It's just one more opportunity for some ref to inject himself into a late game big play and change the outcome of a game and royally piz off the fans.

Don't like it.

Posted by: edvar | August 7, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"And, hey, these guys can also work in baseball, basketball, or UPS if they wish. But what they can't do is to work for one of the 31 teams that didn't draft them. Imagine if you'd graduated from school and they told you "Procter and Gamble drafted you. Go negotiate with them over your job and salary. If you don't like what they offer, you can re-enter the draft in a year."

Posted by: talent_evaluator

What you're doing is envisioning each team as a competing entity. What the NFL (and NBA, and MLS, and NHL, and MLB) has done is implemented the league itself as a singular entity competing against other leagues.

The MLS, which slightly differs from the other leagues in this aspect, actually owns every player in the league. All the contracts are signed directly by and for the MLS, who then implements the draft in the exact same manner that the other leagues do, and the player distribution essentially operates in the exact same way. It just happens that the teams don't actually own the players -- the league does. As a result, the MLS is actually competing with other leagues for the services of players. If a guy doesn't like his contract offer with the MLS (which happens often), he can very easily negotiate with USL-1, USL-2, or foreign leagues for his services.

The anti-trust exemption essentially does the same for the NFL. If a player is unhappy with his contract offer, he can attempt to negotiate with whatever that new league is (UFL?), he could have negotiated with the AFL (but I believe it folded), or he could go elsewhere with his services (CFL, perhaps). Nobody is saying 'If you want to play football, you must play in the NFL.'

As far as the power struggle is concerned, the draft provides just as much leverage to the player as it does to the owner. While the draft limits the options of the player, it also ensures that, to a given franchise, every other competing team is improving. So while the franchise knows that this player's only option is to sign with us or to wait another year, that franchise also knows that they have to sign this guy or they find themselves at a pretty significant disadvantage in comparison to their opponents (particularly in the future).

And in the end, I'd argue the player benefits much more from that power struggle. In European soccer leagues, where the market is essentially completely open and uncontrolled, you will never see unproven youngsters, even the most promising of which, being purchased or signed for anywhere in the same vicinity as that of the top players worldwide. Yet in the NFL, the Chiefs just signed a rookie DL close to the same amount of money that the highest paid defensive player in the league was just signed for.

Posted by: psps23

Posted by: psps23 | August 7, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

New rule after the offensive player has received the ball the defensive player is only allowed to yell STOP but not actually touch the player. The offensive player is to show good sportmanship and take a new wherever the defensive player yells STOP

Posted by: GreatOne1 | August 7, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Weird to see that they're bringing back that old "defenseless receiver" rule again.

Posted by: cali_snowboarder | August 7, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

New Rule the center is no longer allowed to bendover and hike the ball to the Quarteback because this has offended some people. he is to stand up and politely hand the ball to the Quarterback

Posted by: GreatOne1 | August 7, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I wonder where you are suppose to hit someone. Leaves a lot of room for penalties that change the game.

Posted by: punchdaclock | August 7, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Love the "Stop" rule. That's awesome.

Posted by: edvar | August 7, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

New Rule at the end of the game no matter what the score is both teams will celebrate because the NFL does not want to hurt anyone's feelings, so everyone will have gatorade and orange slices at midfield after they shake each others hand

Posted by: GreatOne1 | August 7, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm just trying to figure out how to make a wedge formation with two players or less.

Does Williams count as half a player now?

Posted by: _Stumped_ | August 7, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they should go back to the old leather helmets? Perhaps then, D Backs will stop launch head first into players like a battering ram. And players would have black eyes and no teeth - like real men!

Posted by: edvar | August 7, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

THE DUDE WHO PLEADS WILL GET 29 YEARS. SO, THIS MEANS THE OTHER 3 HAS TO GET LIFE W/O PAROLE.....

Suspect in Taylor shooting will not withdraw plea
Posted by Gregg Rosenthal on August 7, 2009 3:10 PM ET
Only one of five defendants in the murder of Sean Taylor has pleaded guilty, and he recently filed a motion to withdraw that plea.

The defendant, Venjah Hunte, changed course again Friday. He will not withdraw the plea and plans to testify against his four co-defendants.

Police say that Hunte drove the other four men to the scene, but did not enter Taylor's house. He will now receive a 29-year jail sentence.

Hunte's change of heart came after a dramatic meeting with his mother, who was reportedly sobbing loudly in the courtroom. Hunte risked getting two life sentences if he withdrew the plea.

After being allowed to meet with his mother and lawyer privately, he changed his plans.

Mr. Florio is the legal expert in these parts, but the case against Taylor's alleged assailants will seemingly be much easier to try with Hunte's testimony.

Posted by: 4thFloor | August 7, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

"passes or fumbles by quarterbacks that have been ruled incomplete on the field and loose balls ruled to have hit the sideline can be reviewed."

I am wondering how this will work. Are refs going to hold off blowing the whistle until the ball is controlled even if they believe it's an incomplete pass?

Posted by: learnedhand1 | August 7, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand the first rule either. I thought they already had the Roy Williams (S) Rule.

Posted by: dcsween | August 7, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm just trying to figure out how to make a wedge formation with two players or less.

Does Williams count as half a player now?

-

You go with single-man wedges and scatter them all over the field. Sort of like blockers.

Posted by: edvar | August 7, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Don't mind rule tweaks. Definitely DO mind hammy tweaks..

Posted by: 4-12 | August 7, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Greg, if there's not much truth to it, please tell me who's starting at RT.... I'm waiting....

Al, have you been under a rock, or out of touch or something?? Seriously?? Heyer is the starting RT, just like he was last year. What caused you to think that this was going to be anyone but him??

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | August 7, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Bean, do you just forget that yes while Heyer started like two games at RT he lost his spot back to Jansen cause he sucks at run blocking and then took over for Samuels after Samuels got hurt. So yes technically Heyer beat Jansen out, but then he couldn't beat him out again so there can and should be debate as to how good he is since he couldn't beat out the guy that we flat out cut this offseason. Is Heyer better? We all sure hope so, but don't try and pretend like its a dumb question to wonder about the wisdom of having Heyer as your only legit option at the position backed up by a 450 pound bust and a guard they're trying to make into a tackle.

Posted by: zjfr2 | August 7, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

New rule whichever team wins the coin toss wins the game

Posted by: GreatOne1 | August 7, 2009 3:30 PM

They already have that. It's what happens in overtime.

Posted by: dcsween | August 7, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Jack, which position is considered more important - LT or RT?

Posted by: learnedhand1 | August 7, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

A wedge formation with more than two players. How about three little two man wedges with each about two yards apart? Kind of like pinball.

Posted by: dcsween | August 7, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Jack, which position is considered more important - LT or RT?

Posted by: learnedhand1 | August 7, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

LT obviously, are you trying to make the point that because Heyer went to left tackle he's obviously better than Jansen? That be an excellent point except for the 6 healthy weeks Heyer held the bench up while Samuels and Jansen played before Samuels got hurt.

Posted by: zjfr2 | August 7, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

"Bean, do you just forget that yes while Heyer started like two games at RT he lost his spot back to Jansen cause he sucks at run blocking"

Um....wasn't it because Heyer got injured that he wasn't playing??

"a guard they're trying to make into a tackle"

Are you talking about Bridges, because he played Tackle for the Panthers...I mean, not to throw facts into this or anything....

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | August 7, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Zjack's back?! Sweet! Got my popcorn ready. [Well, really it's baked tilapia and green beans, followed by an apple, but that loses something in the translation]

Posted by: 4-12 | August 7, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

That's exactly my point. Why didn't they move Jansen to LT? The real reason they didn't put Heyer back in at RT is because JJ was pouting like a beeatch when he wasn't playing and Zorn didn't want to deal with a surly vet. To avoid a repeat of that sitchiation Zorn got his sjk out of here this year.

Posted by: learnedhand1 | August 7, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

the rule changes are:

the bigger markets get all the calls over the smaller markets, especially the cowboys, giants, and eagles over the skins

for example: let's say eagle desean jackson has a brilliant punt return for a TD against the Skins, do we want to call the block in the back? no way. "But what if we throw the flag by reflex?" Excellent question, you call it on the kicking team's player with the same number!

applause, applause.

rule change from this moment on redskins fans will STROKE desean jackson lovingly and with envy.

oh wait these are the old rules, i wanna cry too

Posted by: pabrian2003 | August 7, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I thought that the reason for re-plugging in the crappy Jansen was the mutiny by his vet teammates on the O-line, like it was a veteran leadership kind of thing. And given that they were running more than they were passing anyway, it wasn't that much of a sweat ... at first.

Posted by: dcsween | August 7, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

At the time, I thought the bit about pulling Heyer because of an injured shoulder was a pretense to re-insert Jansen.

Posted by: dcsween | August 7, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

beep beep

Posted by: carocanesfan | August 7, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Are you talking about Bridges, because he played Tackle for the Panthers...I mean, not to throw facts into this or anything....

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | August 7, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, he was draft as a guard has started in 39 games in his career and like 4 were at tackle, so I'm talking about him yes, he's a guard that can play tackle in a pinch, hardly the greatest of backup plans.....better than the 450 pound hope though...

Posted by: zjfr2 | August 7, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

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