The NFL Owners' Meetings are over, and the most significant development to come out of nearly a week in Orlando was in the area of instant replay, while for the sheer impact on social media, the goalpost won the day.
There were two changes to instant replay that will be implemented starting with the 2014 season.
The first of those will allow the referee to consult with members of the NFL officiating department during replay reviews. The referee would be able to speak with the command center in New York to help in reviewing a play.
The other had to do with making change of possession on the field of play subject to review. This happened to the Steelers in Green Bay during a Dec. 22 game, but undoubtedly the impetus for the actual change came when the 49ers were victimized similarly in the NFC Championship Game when a spot in Super Bowl XLVIII was hanging in the balance. Both of those plays will be subject to a coach's challenge starting with this season.
Also, ownership voted down a proposal to expand instant replay to include personal foul penalties; it voted down a proposal that would permit a coach to challenge any official's decision that's not subject to automatic review; and it tabled the idea to put cameras on all boundary lines – sidelines, goal lines, and end lines – to guarantee complete coverage for replay reviews.
"There was a lot of discussion about replay in general," said Steelers President Art Rooney II. "I think there is a desire to look at technology and see if we can get more help with technology. A lot of the coaches would like to see more reviewable plays, but our point is we don't really mind having more plays be reviewable, we just don't want more replays. So that's going to be the trick, to figure out how to make that work."
GUARDING THE GOALPOST
Another change adopted for 2014 will raise the height of the uprights by five feet in an effort to help officials rule on field goal attempts. The original proposal called for each upright to be raised by 15 feet, but that was deemed to be structurally unsound. The compromise to raise the height by five feet will make the height of each upright 35 feet above the crossbar.
As another part of this, the league also voted to outlaw the touchdown celebration that involves dunking the football over the crossbar, a move that was met with much criticism throughout the twitterverse. In a game last year, such a move dislodged the goalpost and the game had to be delayed nearly 30 minutes for stadium workers to fix it so that the game could resume. It's unknown how many, if any, of those protesting this decision were among those sitting in the stands that day watching and waiting.
"I actually didn't know they were thinking about (outlawing the dunk celebration)," said Rooney. "The part of it that does go with increasing the size of the goalposts – the higher the goalpost is, the more difficult it is to keep them straight. It seems like that was the main impetus for the rule, just to make sure we don't have to send guys out adjusting the goalposts after every dunk."