PHOENIX (AP) — NFL owners got busy Tuesday passing several rules changes, adopting resolutions they believe will speed the game and enhance player safety, and perhaps even allow for more personality in player celebrations.
One day after approving the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas, the owners sped up discussions on dozens of subjects.
That led to a change in handling officiating of video replays; eliminating “leapers” trying to block field goals or extra points; adding protections for defenseless receivers running their routes; and further discussions with the players about loosening restrictions for on-field celebrations.
The NFL also extended bringing touchbacks out to the 25-yard line for another year; made permanent the rule disqualifying a player who is penalized twice in a game for specific unsportsmanlike conduct fouls; and tabled reducing overtime in the regular season from 15 minutes to 10, a subject likely to be addressed at the May meetings in Chicago.
Referees will now watch replays on the field using Surface tablets, eliminating “going under the hood” to watch on television monitors. League officiating chief Dean Blandino and his staff in New York will make the final decisions on those calls, with input from the referee, who in the past was the ultimate arbiter after consulting with league headquarters.
“We’ve been doing this for three seasons, since 2014,” Blandino said of the centralized reviews. “It’s worked in the replay process.”
Blandino, who has two assistants who also can make the final decisions at the officiating headquarters, said he has no concern about being undermanned during a heavy schedule.
The leaper rule was a slam dunk, and passed unanimously.
“To a person, the players…