The 2017 NFL Owners Meetings begin on Sunday in Phoenix, Arizona, and there will be a full agenda in place with 15 playing rule proposals up for consideration.
Another topic of discussion will be improving the pace of the game, something NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has put an emphasis on.
"When I watch the games on Sunday, I am watching as a football fan," Goodell told Sports Illustrated. "I am seeing things that disturb me, or that I find an intrusion. Particularly, as we get into this age now where there are so many distractions for our fans. I don't want to give them an excuse to move off of football. I want them to be there all the time... We have seen areas that we know we can improve on."
Steelers President Art Rooney II shared his thoughts on Friday on the pace of the game and other topics (Read Full Story Here).
"There is going to be some discussion and rule proposals in regards to what is being referred to as the pace of the game, pace of play, and I think we support the effort to really try to make the game move along, not necessarily quicker, but a little smoother, not as choppy," said Rooney. "I think we have identified ways to cut out, sort of unnecessary downtime, in the little nooks and crannies in the game, without really impacting the game itself or the number of plays, anything like that. The object is not to change the number of plays in the game or dramatically change the time of the game. It's really an effort to try to streamline the game and make it feel less choppy, both in the stadium and at home."
As far as the playing rules proposals, eight of them came from the NFL's competition committee, which Coach Mike Tomlin is a part of, and include the following:
- Make permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
Change the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only.
- Reduce the length of preseason and regular season overtime periods to 10 minutes.
Expand the defenseless player rule, giving a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection.
Make crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.
Replace the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorize designated members of the officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews.
- Make it unsportsmanlike conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.
- Make actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.
Individual teams can also submit playing rules proposals, and many of those as well as the ones by the competition committee, are being done to keep player safety at the forefront.
"Number one priority was a focus on player safety," said Troy Vincent, the NFL executive vice president of football operations. "Our game's better, many of the techniques that don't belong in our game are out. We still have a little bit of work to do in that area, but the quality of our game is good.
"Number two was the quality of our game and the film showed that the quality of our game is extraordinary. It's in a good place but we won't stop aiming towards perfection."
In an effort to improve areas, including player safety, teams put forth the following playing rules proposals:
- By Philadelphia: Provides additional protection for long snappers on kick plays.
- By Philadelphia: Bans the "leap" block on field goal and extra point plays.
- By Philadelphia: Expands restriction for contact with helmet by runners and tacklers.
- By Washington: Eliminates the requirement that a team be successful on each of its first two instant replay challenges in order to be awarded a third challenge. Eliminates the limit of three total challenges per team per game.
- By Washington: Moves the line of scrimmage to the 20-yard line for any touchback where the free kick travels through the uprights.
- By Buffalo and Seattle: Permits a coach to challenge any officials' decision except scoring plays and turnovers. The change would also simplify the replay rules.
And there is more. There are six bylaw proposals, with three of them coming from teams, the Washington Redskins in particular, and the other three proposed by the competition committee, which met this past week in Phoenix.
The bylaw proposals are as follows:
- By Washington: Eliminates the mandatory cutdown to 75 Active List players.
By Washington: Permits a player who has suffered a concussion and who has not been cleared to be placed on the club's Exempt List and replaced by another player on a game-by-game basis until the player is cleared.
- By Washington: Permits clubs to opt out of the "color rush" jerseys created for Thursday Night Football.
- By Competition Committee: Liberalizes rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club's facility for one year only.
By Competition Committee: Change the procedures for returning a player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness to the Active List to be similar to those for returning a player that was Designated for Return.
- By Competition Committee; The League office will transmit a personnel notice to clubs on Sundays during training camp and preseason.
The final aspect where voting will take place is for three resolution proposals. They are as follows:
By Philadelphia: Amends the NFL's on-field policy to allow clubs to have an alternate helmet in a color to match their third uniform.
By Competition Committee: Permits a club to negotiate and reach an agreement with a head coach candidate during the postseason prior to the conclusion of the employer club's season.
By Competition Committee: Permits a contract or non-contract non-football employee to interview with and be hired by another club during the playing season, provided the employer club has consented.