After months of what seems to this writer like an agonizingly long wait, the 2014 NFL season is kicking off today in just a few short hours! As with all new things, this new season brings new rule changes. Here are the ones you need to know about.
- Aggressive play in the defensive backfield: Technically, this isn’t a rule change – the rule has been on the books since before this season – but the NFL is making sure its officials will be paying closer attention to contact five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The NFL is calling this rule a “point of emphasis,” according to CBS Denver. This more enthusiastic policing will also target hands to the face; previously, “prolonged” hands to the face was not tolerated, according to The Washington Post, but now NFL will allow zero tolerance.
- Jersey Pulling: Defensive players will no longer be allowed to pull the jersey of any offensive players; if it’s observed, it will be defensive holding and result in an automatic first down and a five-yard penalty. SB Nation writer SDNativeinTX thinks that this rule change may be one of the most significant changes to take place this season.
- New Definition of “Clipping”: Previously, the NFL’s Clipping rule has prohibited blocks from behind. The new rule change will also prohibit rolling up the side of a defensive player’s legs. Doing so will result in a 15-yard penalty. According to CBS Denver writer Andrew Kahn, “this is one of the few rules designed to increase player safety.”
- The Why-They-Call-It-The-“No-Fun-League”-Rule: The NFL has expanded the definition of “unsportsmanlike conduct” to include “foul language” directed at officials or other players and coaches. “Foul language” isn’t precisely defined, so expect this rule change to generate some controversy as the season unfolds. Another new “No Fun League” rule change this season prohibits using playing equipment – the goal posts, the ball, the logos painted on the field – as props for celebrations. Players will still be allowed to spike the ball. The NFL’s zeal to promote its squeaky-clean, sportsmanship-above-all-else image is rather puzzling, considering the number of violent felons currently in its ranks (see this Inquisitr article).
- Higher Goalposts: The field-goal uprights are now 35 feet high above the crossbar instead of 30 feet. Washington Post writer Liz Clarke says this rule change is a result of a controversial field goal from 2012 in which the ball appeared to sail over the top of an upright, depending upon the camera angle.
- The Replays-Are-Going-To-Be-Even-Longer Rule: Referees on the field will now be able to call NFL headquarters in New York to discuss difficult replay calls with vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino – during the game.
- The Navarro Bowman Rule: If you have a rule named after you, that means that either something terrible or something controversial, happened to you. In the case of Navarro Bowman, it’s both. The rule states that a loose ball anywhere in the field of play – instead of just the end zone – is reviewable. This rule change is based on a horribly blown call – resulting in a gruesome injury – from the NFC title game last January. Here’s a video. Warning: it’s horrifying.
Of course, there are other rule changes taking place this season, but the ones listed here are the rule changes that the average fan is likely to notice. If you’re interested in reading the NFL rule book in its entirety, you can see it here.
Do you believe these upcoming rule changes will make any difference in how much you enjoy watching the games? Let us know below.
Image courtesy of: Foot Action