NFL owners vote no on replay review of roughing the passer

PHOENIX – Roughing the passer penalties will remain a play that cannot be challenged after NFL owners rejected a proposal to make them reviewable Tuesday at the Annual League Meeting.

That proposal, which had been submitted by the Los Angeles Rams, failed to get enough votes to pass the muster.

"I think there's a resistance in general to having fouls reviewed, including myself. I'm resistant to that," said Steelers president Art Rooney II. "I think that's probably the biggest part of it. There's just so much subjectivity into the call. I don't know that replay adds anything to getting it right."

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who sits on the influential Competition Committee, wasn't in favor of opening roughing the passer penalties up to challenges, either.

The Competition Committee reviewed 80 roughing the passer penalties from the 2022 season and found only three that would have been considered questionable upon review.

"We looked at a lot of it. We analyzed it because it is a hot-button topic," Tomlin said. "There's a lot of emotions when those flags fall on the ground, because usually, it's a significant play and often occurs in significant moments. But based on the analysis of what we saw, I respected the level of officiating that the play was given. Sometimes our reactions are just that: emotional."

Owners also declined to approve a proposal to spot the ball at the 25-yard line on a touchback from a punt and to have the ball spotted at the 25 on a fair catch made on a kickoff inside the 25. Those proposals were tabled until May's meeting.

Also tabled until May was a proposal by the Lions that would reenact a roster allowance for teams to designate a third quarterback on their game-day roster. That rule was in effect from 1991 through 2010, but was abolished in 2011 when game-day roster sizes were increased to 46 players.

Also tabled was a proposal to eliminate crackback blocks by a man in motion.

"There's a chance some of the things that were tabled will be passed," Rooney said. "The proposal to eliminate a crackback block by a man in motion, there was a long discussion about it. I think there's a good chance we'll vote on that in May. That's probably the one that got the most discussion that might come back."

While those proposals did not pass, several other minor changes to the game did. Most notable among those was a proposal by the Eagles to allow the use of zero as a number, as well as giving kickers and punters the opportunity to wear numbers between 0 and 49, and 90 and 99.

The Steelers haven't had a player wear 0. The Steelers haven't had a player wear that number since Johnny Clement did so from 1946 through 1948 and was known as "Mr. Zero."

"I wouldn't be surprised," Rooney said when asked if he thinks any players will ask for the number.

A proposal by the Texans also was accepted that will expand the Replay Official's jurisdiction to allow for review on failed fourth down attempts.

In addition, the Competition Committee had a rule approved that makes the penalty for tripping a personal foul. That is significant because a player who draws two personal fouls in a game can lead to an ejection.

• Dale Lolley is co-host of "SNR Drive" on Steelers Nation Radio. Subscribe to the podcast here: Apple Podcast | iHeart Podcast

Among other changes, the owners also voted to approve one preseason roster reduction date and related procedures and the addition of having teams be able to play twice on Thursday nights during the season.

The addendum to the Thursday games that would have allowed those games to be flexed was tabled.

"I supported having teams be able to play two Thursday night games," Rooney said. "But I didn't support flexing those games. I think if we're smart about how we schedule those games. For instance, you can give them back-to-back Thursdays, things like that and have a bye on the end of that, I think it can be done so that teams will be able to live with it."

Rooney did not support flexing Thursday night games.

"The biggest problem I had with the flex was that the proposal was you only had 15 days notice," Rooney said. "That's just too short of a turnaround time for a Sunday to a Thursday as far as I'm concerned."