News

Officiating video: What falls under new ‘use of the helmet’ rule

Senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron has released his first full weekly rules interpretation video. These videos are primarily targeted to broadcasters and other media covering the NFL, but they also provide context to official interpretations of the rules. These are key this season especially with several new rules changes. This week's video focused solely on the new use of the helmet rule. The video confirms what new NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay stated during the Hall of Fame game that the league will be compiling a database of plays to review in order to show the officiating crews what to

NFL trying out two new kicking game mechanics this preseason

The NFL is using two new kicking mechanics this season on field goal and extra point attempts and on free kicks (kickoffs).  Football Zebras contacted the NFL officiating office to see if these changes are a preseason experiment or will be permanent; however the NFL did not respond to our request at publishing time. Umpire in backfield on scoring kicks The NFL is placing the umpire in the backfield on field goal and extra point attempts. Previously the umpire and side judge both lined up in the defensive backfield. Now it looks like this: I am quite intrigued with this positioning. There are several restrictions

2018 rule changes

Shamarko Thomas ejected on helmet hit, first DQ of live-ball action since 2009

Colts safety Shamarko Thomas became the unwitting test case for the new helmet rule, as he was ejected in the fourth quarter of the first preseason game against the Seahawks. The helmet-to-helmet contact foul is the first ejection of the 2018 season. Thomas's hit is in a rare category. Football Zebras and Quirky Research have determined that the last time an ejection was assessed for an in-play hit -- not including fighting, punching, etc. -- was a flagrant fair-catch interference hit by Panthers cornerback Dante Wesley on Oct. 18, 2009 (video). https://twitter.com/Alex_Kozora/status/1027791888785596416 As a technical matter, this is a hit on a defenseless receiver, which

Mechanics

NFL trying out two new kicking game mechanics this preseason

The NFL is using two new kicking mechanics this season on field goal and extra point attempts and on free kicks (kickoffs).  Football Zebras contacted the NFL officiating office to see if these changes are a preseason experiment or will be permanent; however the NFL did not respond to our request at publishing time. Umpire in backfield on scoring kicks The NFL is placing the umpire in the backfield on field goal and extra point attempts. Previously the umpire and side judge both lined up in the defensive backfield. Now it looks like this: I am quite intrigued with this positioning. There are several restrictions

No eight-person crew experiments this preseason

For the past several preseasons, the NFL has experimented with eight-person crews. Football Zebras has learned that experiment is on hold this year. Eight-person crews started in the NCAA. In college, the eighth official is the center judge, who lines up in the offensive backfield with the referee. NCAA umpires stay in their traditional position behind the defensive line. In 2010, the NFL switched the umpire to the offensive backfield due to safety reasons. Soon after, the NFL started experimenting with eight-person crews. But, the NFL could not add the center judge and move the umpire back to a location deemed unsafe. So, in the

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