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NFL makes hasty rule adjustments for overhead objects

After only two full quarters in the new Cowboys Stadium, a punt banged into the overhead video screen, despite its 90-foot clearance. The NFL spent less than a week to make the ruling clear on how such anomalies are handled.

From the NFL:

After consulting with the Competition Committee and NFL staff, the commissioner said the following will be in effect for all remaining preseason, regular season, and postseason games of the 2009 season:

  1. If a ball in play strikes a video board, guide wire, sky cam, or any other object, the ball will be dead immediately, and the down will be replayed at the previous spot.
  2. If there is not an on-field ruling that the ball struck an object, the Replay Assistant is empowered to initiate a booth review, including if the event occurs prior to the two-minute warning. If, prior to the two-minute warning, no booth review is initiated by the Replay Assistant, a coach’s challenge is permitted under the customary procedures for such a challenge.
  3. In the event the down is replayed:

(a) The game clock will be reset to the time remaining when the snap occurred.

(b) All penalties will be disregarded, except for personal fouls which will be administered prior to replaying the down.

The press release goes on to state that this rule change is limited to the 2009 season, because Rule 3, Section 1 of the playing rules requires interim changes to be reviewed by the Competition Committee for permanency.

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Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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2 thoughts on “NFL makes hasty rule adjustments for overhead objects

  1. I doubt that any player would be able to accurately do so and make it look like a forward pass. There is a 5-yard penalty and a 10-second runoff for actions that conserve time. There is wide latitude afforded to the referee to judge that. Such a deliberate throw would not have the arc of a regular pass, and the intent would be obvious. This is not so obvious with a punt, because its trajectory can realistically follow such a path.

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