The National Football League (NFL) held its annual meeting of team owners and Tuesday, March 28, the owners voted on potential rule changes and new rules to take effect in the 2017-2018 NFL season. Many rules and bylaws were discussed and voted on, most notably the proposals of shortening the NFL overtime period and allowing players to jump over the offensive lineman during a field goal in an attempt to block it. The proposal to shorten the overtime period was not passed, lacking one vote. The proposal to ban jumping over field goal blockers was passed and, starting in 2017, a defensive player jumping over the offensive line of a field goal will result in a penalty.
Neither of these results seem entirely logical. Any rule change to shorten an NFL game should be passed, because due to replays and TV timeouts, average NFL games can reach up to four hours in length, which is unacceptable for any binge sporting event today (looking at you too, baseball). Any rule that shortens the game, such as speeding up the replay process, would benefit the NFL right now. As for the other change, regarding field goal blocks, the NFL obviously changed this rule to increase player safety and reduce potential injuries. Personally, I think rule changes helping to decrease player injuries are great, but there haven’t been any cases of a player being injured by jumping over the offensive line of a field goal kick, thus the change is perplexing. With cases like this and the recent story of the League sending touchdown celebration tutorial videos, it almost seems that the NFL is less concerned with making the game safer, and more concerned with efforts of improving their image. Possibly, the league is simply out of touch with the actual problems of safety in the League.
While the rule changes voted on this year aren’t anything major, the results seem like the League isn’t going in the right direction.