2016 NFL Rule Changes: Owners Approve, Players And Coaches Not On Board

Rule changes for the upcoming 2016 NFL season were approved and announced Wednesday by NFL ownership and Commissioner Roger Goodell at the annual NFL owners meeting.

And despite heavy protest from league coaches, the NFL owners wrapped up their annual meetings Wednesday morning with the approval of two new rule changes.

The upcoming 2016 season will feature two rules, one which deals with the automatic ejection of players should they commit two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the same game. The other rule involves the adjustment of moving the designated yard line for kickoff touchbacks up to the 25-yard line instead of the previous 20, which was intended to discourage the number of returns that have become a concern for injury following the increase of such incidents in 2015.

As with any rule change, both proposals will be adopted as one-year experiments and reviewed next offseason.

It was also announced that last year’s change to move the PAT (point after touchdown) to the 15-yard line was made permanent on Wednesday.

Richard Sherman has recently come out and called the commissioner “just a suit,” touching on the fact that many of the higher-ups making these decisions, like Goodell, are doing so in a closed office setting without input from those that actually play the game.

“it sounds like something somebody who’s never played the game would say, something that they would suggest, because he doesn’t understand. He’s just a face. He’s just a suit. He’s never stepped foot on the field and understood how you can get a personal foul.”

A good majority of coaches seemed to disapprove of the new rules. Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy voiced his concerns with the new implementations, specifically the rule to discourage kickoff returns.

“Do you want the kicking game in the game or not in the game?” McCarthy asked. “If it’s in the game, let’s kick it and return it and let’s play the play… I just don’t like, ‘Let’s not reward a decision not to compete with five extra yards.’ If we’re going to compete, let’s compete. If we’re not going to compete, let’s not compete.”

Goodell has been the NFL commissioner since 2006 and has not been held in the highest regard with fans and players during his tenure. According to a Public Policy Polling (PPP), the NFL commissioner garnered only a 19 percent favorable rating and a 40 percent unfavorable rating from fans.

The report also confirms his approval rating at 28 percent, 19 points less than that of President Obama.

Along with the two new rule changes, a request by the Baltimore Ravens to expand instant replay to review all but eight specified penalties was evaluated. The NFL’s competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay claimed there was enough support for the Ravens’ request to be considered for a vote at the league’s spring meetings this May.

The annual meetings also saw owners approve the full elimination of the chop block along with the expansion of the horse collar rule to include tackles made by grabbing the nameplate on the back of a player’s jersey.

Below are other notable NFL updates.

Commissioner Goodell confirmed that the New England Patriots will not be granted their 2016 draft picks back that they lost from the Deflategate scandal.

L.A. Rams will be featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks in 2016. The Rams made their return to Los Angeles this offseason after spending years in St. Louis. The Houston Texans were featured last year and made the playoffs at 9-7.

The New Orleans Saints and head coach Sean Payton signed a five-year extension, keeping the coach with the Saints thru 2020.

Jason Garrett announced that he believes Tony Romo will be ready for training camp after undergoing collar-bone surgery on March 8.

Former NFL player and ESPN analyst Ryan Clark critiqued the recent NFL rule changes by stating that he believes the commissioner is being too quick to penalize players by making them miss games in what is an already short season where every game counts.

He added that all players need to be given a straightforward guideline that clearly breaks down the new ejection rule.

[Photo by Luis M. Alvarez/AP]

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