2014 rule changes
Bill Belichick and the legendary Don Shula now share an interesting and exclusive legacy.
At the annual NFL owners meeting, the rule change proposal from the New England Patriots to extend the height of goalposts by five feet passed, and will apparently be implemented starting with the 2014 season. The expansion of the goalposts from 30 to 35 feet over the crossbar wa presented as helping officials make clearer and more confident calls. It was Belichick, as coach of the team floating this proposal, who aggressively confronted a replacement official (video) at the conclusion of a 2012 game when a game-ending field goal attempt seemed to go just feet over the top of the goalpost.
When the ball is kicked toward the uprights, it is the responsibility of the officials to look directly up the pipe to determine if the kick is good. From time to time, field goals kicked directly above the top of either of the goalpost; however NFL officials we’ve spoken with don’t think it’s too difficult of a call. With the added height, the ball will not hit the goal post and either pass inside or out of the goal posts, and make it easier for the officials to call it quickly.
With some of the leg power from kickers in the NFL, I’m sure they’ll still be some kicks that continue to sail over the top of the uprights.
This is the third time since standardized goalposts were used that the height was raised. In the 1965 Western Conference playoffs, the Packers scored a controversial field goal when the ball sailed over the posts. That field goal sent the game into overtime and the Packers beat the Baltimore Colts 13-10. Don Shula, the Colts coach, argued in the offseason that the goalposts should be raised. The following season, they were extended from 10 to 20 feet over the crossbar, in what was dubbed the “Baltimore extensions”. (They were raised again in 1974 to 30 feet.)
And now, we will have the Boston extensions?
No more slam dunks. Speaking of the goal posts, the NFL has now also implemented a rule stating that dunking the ball, after a scoring play, over the goalposts is now treated as a “celebration” foul. Currently, using props to celebrate a score is flagged as excessive celebration, and now dunking the ball will be considered using a prop. Surely to be the most devastated by the new interpretation of this rule is Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. A 2013 Thursday night game in Atlanta was delayed by 25 minutes because Graham bent the goalposts while performing one of his famous dunks (video).
Ben Austro contributed to this report.
Football Zebras image, Craig Melvin/Buffalo Bills