There are still some loose ends that the National Football League is looking to get all tied up before the 2018 regular season begins. They are hoping to be able to supply the majority of the answers to the remaining questions by the end of next week, which is the next opportunity at which the league’s owners will gather to vote on proposed legislation and similar business.
The top of the agenda will be in approving the final sale of the Carolina Panthers from owner Jerry Richardson to Pittsburgh Steelers minority owner David Tepper. He was the only candidate in the running regarded as one who would be rubber-stamped by the owners because he was already known and well-liked as a member of their ranks.
More on the on-field side, the major rule proposal on the docket is going to be the significant alterations expected to come to the kickoff, which I talked about yesterday. The philosophy behind the changes is to reduce the opportunities for full-speed collisions to make it a safer play in the game overall.
But the other issue on the table concerns the new lowering of the helmet rule, which many regard as the most significant change to the game this offseason, and perhaps in some time. there is a not insignificant minority that fears the rule will fundamentally change the way the game is played, though word out of the summit held recently doesn’t seem to indicate a sweeping shift to a new era of football.
The changes to the kickoff proposed are extensive and detailed. The lowering of the helmet rule, however, has already passed. What is going to be determined with next week’s voting is how the replay system will be utilized as a legislative measure within that rule.
The actual rule being voted on for alteration is Rule 15, Section 2, Articles 2, 3 and 5 (Replay Official’s Request for Review). The first change actually strikes “Replay Official’s” from the heading of the rule to make it a more general “Request for Review”.
Added to opening section specifying how a review is initiated is “a member of the NFL’s Officiating department from a location in the League office”, made in addition to the already-featured “Replay Official from a Replay Booth comparable to the location of the coaches’ booth or Press Box”. In other words, a league headquarters official would be able to initiate a request for review.
And one of the things added to the list of things for which a review can be requested would be “any disqualification of a player”, obviously relevant to the helmet rule because officials can now determine if a hit in violation of the new rule merits an ejection.
These are reviews referring to booth reviews, not coaches’ challenges, of course. Article 3 of the rule even adds that on reviews for disqualifications of players (contrary to the other categories of review), the designee does not have to consult with the on-field officials.
The way that the language is worded does not appear to indicate that the league is giving itself power to eject a player. Rather, the only addition pertains to their ability to review an on-field official’s decision to eject a player, allowing them to independently determine if that was merited. They would be able to reinstate a player to a game, but not take one out.