10 Rule Changes The NFL Should Implement by 2015
10 Rule Changes the NFL Should Implement by 2015
The NFL has implemented rule changes in each season since 1994, and in the majority of seasons since the 1940s. Most of the recent changes revolve around player safety, which is a delicate issue to approach. A lot of football fans, including myself, have somewhat contradicting feelings about the subject.
We love to see some of the fastest and strongest people in the world knock each other around at full speed, yet we don’t want to see anyone get seriously hurt. It’s similar to watching a boxing match or MMA bout and hoping to see a nice knockout, but somehow one that doesn't cause serious damage.
The violence involved in football is a big part of its appeal, and there will likely be an ongoing tug of war between protecting the NFL’s edge and player safety. Only one of the rule changes suggested in this article applies to protecting the players. It made the list not only because it’s insane that there isn't already a rule for it, but also because it completely conflicts with another NFL rule.
One area where this slideshow will not be suggesting any changes is the playoff format. Among all professional sports leagues, the NFL has an unmatched sense of urgency to win from the first week of the regular season. The entire regular season is by far the closest thing to a playoff atmosphere any league has.
Adding playoff teams will just increase the number of games a team can lose, and take away from the urgency that makes the NFL special. But while they do have some things right, there are a few areas that need some work. Here are 10 rule changes the NFL should implement by 2015.
10. Remove Extra Points
There is no real competition in an extra point. When a kicker misses one or it gets blocked, it’s because the kicking team messed up in some way. It’s not an interesting way to put points on the board. Two-point conversions are a much more fun and competitive way to cap off a touchdown.
9. Ease Up On Running Into the Kicker and Roughing the Kicker Calls
It’s understandable to protect punters in such a defenseless position, but it is taken a little too far. Too often players accidentally graze a punter’s leg, he flops, and it keeps an offensive drive alive. It’s also pretty dumb that incidental contact is okay if the player is able to tip the ball. It encourages aggressive moves to the punter, but punishes them if they aren't successful.
8. Make Pulling Hair Illegal
It makes absolutely no sense that you can’t drag a player down by the back of his collar, or pull him backward by his shoulder pads, but you can drag him down by his hair. At the very least, hair should be included in the horse collar rule. The same leg injuries the rule is trying to prevent can also happen by dragging someone back by their hair.
7. Quit Forcing Players to Talk to the Media
There is no reason to force players to talk to the media. For every Marshawn Lynch who doesn't want to talk, there is a Richard Sherman who loves to. The players who don’t want to be interviewed aren't going to say anything interesting anyway. The guys that love attention are the ones that give us something to talk about.
6. Make Flinching Legal For the Defense Again
Thanks largely to Neil Smith, a rule was implemented in 1998 that prohibits a defender from flinching to try to draw movement from the offense. I see this as a hypocritical rule as hard counts intended to draw movement from the defense are still legal. Either both acts should be legal, or both should be illegal.
5. Change What’s Considered Pass Interference
The NFL is getting a little too pass-happy these days, so let’s give defenses a fighting chance. It’s a little iffy to call a defender for pass interference for trying to make a play on the ball without seeing it. These guys are trying to keep up with some of the fastest people in the world without knowing which direction they’re going to go. The least the league can do is let them wave their arms around a little when they think the ball is close.
4. Move Kickoffs Back Five Yards
In 2011, kickoffs were moved up five yards to the 30-yard line, and they should be moved back where they were at the 35. Roughly half of kickoffs end in a touchback now, which is a waste of time and energy. Either they like kick returns or they don’t.
If they don’t like kick returns, they can give the kicking team an option of an onside kick try, or letting the receiving team start at their 20. If they like returns, then they need to move the kickoff back five yards. Touchbacks are a buzz-kill. Nobody wants to watch a kick fly across the field in hopes for an exciting play to follow, only to see the return man take a knee.
3. Get Tougher on Pick Plays
A lot of pick plays are legal in the NFL, and the league needs to get tougher on them. Within one yard of the line of scrimmage, almost anything goes, even when the ball is in the air. Outside of that, it's a judgment call based mostly on whether the contact was initiated by the offensive player, such as lowering the shoulder or reaching for the defender.
Again, defenses need to be given a fighting chance these days. Illegal picks should be called any time an official believes it was an offensive player’s intention to screen a defender to free up their teammate.
2. Add More Flex Scheduling
Flex scheduling currently allows any game scheduled on a Sunday from Weeks 11-17 to be moved from the afternoon to Sunday Night Football. There is no reason why it should just be the last seven weeks of the season. The NFL should stop scheduling the Sunday night game altogether from Week 5 forward, and just move whatever game fans want to see most into the prime time slot.
Right now every team is scheduled for at least one prime time game, and that would likely need to stop for this to happen. It should stop anyway. Teams don’t deserve the right to play in prime time just because they exist. If they stink, fans shouldn't be forced to watch them.
This move would also require increasing the maximum number of six prime time games that teams are allowed, but whatever brings the fans the most competitive and exciting games should happen.
1. Lower the Age Limit
If there’s one thing Maurice Clarett did right, it was challenging the NFL on the rule that requires player to be three years removed from high school to play in the league. If a player is good enough to play in the pros, he should be allowed when he is a legal adult. If they aren't ready for professional action, let the coaches decide when they see the field, much like they do in the NHL and MLB.
The shelf life of an NFL player is getting smaller, and they should be allowed to get paid as soon as they’re good enough to make it. These players shouldn't be forced to risk injury in the college ranks when they’re ready to play with the big boys.