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5 major issues on the NFL Competition Committee agenda



Committee to consider rule changes next week

How do you change a NFL rule?  A rule change first has to pass muster with the Competition Committee.  There are several rule proposals floated during the season as potential problems and issues arise on the field.  The committee meets in Florida next week to consider those proposals, and to draw up rule changes for the owners to consider. rulebookThe owners will meet later this month to vote on the proposals.  Seventy-five percent of the owners need to vote in favor to change a rule.

Football Zebras speculated on the agenda, but committee member Mark Murphy (who is the CEO of the Packers and a former NFL player) revealed the entire agenda.

Blocks.  The competition committee will consider making several blocks illegal for 2014.  The committee will consider changing or modifying the rules governing chop blocks, cut blocks downfield, roll blocks, and peel-back blocks.  Committee members will also mull over whether or not to give extra protection to the quarterback when running the read-option in the pocket.  An intriguing rule change will be to tighten up the hands to the face penalty.  Right now the player being fouled has to have his head pinned back in a sustained way in order for the official to drop the penalty flag.  The committee will study if players are using a quick shove to the face to gain an unfair advantage and if so, that action will now be illegal.  

Defenseless player hits.   The NFL has mandated that officials call high hits against a defenseless player.  This took a hit out of the game that potentially could cause head injuries.  Players compensated by hitting players lower, and those hits resulted many more leg and knee injuries.  The committee will now consider making low hits against a defenseless player illegal.

Language.  In light of several highly publicized incidents of foul or disrespectful language on and off the field this past season, the Competition Committee will consider penalizing players who use racially charged language on the field. If it is implemented, it will likely be done as a point of emphasis under the current “abusive language” rules.

Extra points.  One of the more interesting (and in my opinion, puzzling) proposals is to drop the extra point kicks after a touchdown.  The reasoning behind changing the extra point rules is, according to commissioner Roger Goodell, the extra point kick is not exciting and a very high percentage play.  Extra point kicks have been around since 1883, so it will be interesting to see if the NFL will change one of its fundamental rules. Early indication is that the discussion will not result in a new rule proposal this season.

Instant replay.  Two ideas under consideration by the competition committee will be to make replay centralized in NFL headquarters and to have all replay challenges initiated by the replay official up in the booth.  While the committee will probably give serious consideration to replay rules, there are several obstacles standing in the way of centralized replay starting in 2014. The indication is that the change will be to have the Officiating Command Center patched in to the booth-to-field communication to monitor the process.

It remains to be seen how many of these rule changes will get to the owners, but the Competition Committee meeting always makes for interesting off-season discussion.

Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"