Saturday, September 06, 2008

Rules Changes in the NFL

Saturday's edition of Sporting News Today offers up a digestible look at changes to the rules under which NFL games are played, and we were surprised by a couple of them.

First, there is no longer a "force out" rule related to completed passes. Under the new rule a receiver is either in or out, and even if he is pushed out it goes as an incomplete pass. What is also interesting is the comment, attributed to head of NFL Mike Pereira, that part of the reason for changing the rule was that the "force-out rule had a high degree of difficulty." More difficult than catching a high velocity pass while (at least) one large man pushes the receiver?

The second change that interested us was the dropping of the five yard, incidental facemask penalty. In a rare display of equity towards offensive and defensive players alike, Mr. Pereira indicated that part of the reason for the change was the fact that a "defender was not allowed to grasp and release the facemask, but a [running back] was." Seems unusually reasonable.