NFL bans leaping to block kicks among rule changes

NFL Buffalo

ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 07: Referee Terry McAulay leaves the instant replay booth during the NFL game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 7, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. The 49ers defeated the Cowboys 28-17. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The NFL made eight rule changes at the owners meetings in Phoenix Tuesday. 

The most noteworthy is a ban on leaping over the line of scrimmage to block kicks. The practice spiked in 2016 and it was erased in the name of player safety. 

In the same vein, players can now be ejected for “egregious hits to the head”. There was no clarification on exactly what that means, so fans should enjoy the first time it happens to a player on their team. 

The ten second runoff rule that, previously, was limited to fouls in the final minute of a half will now include anything after the two minute warning. 

Replays will now be decided at the league office in New York City. Game officials will no longer go under a hood on the sideline to review plays. Instead, they’ll review plays on a tablet and consult with league officials on the decision. 

The full list of changes is below. 

Approved 2017 Playing Rules Proposals

​​2a. By Philadelphia; Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays.(Final language will be available on  

8.   By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. 

9.   By Competition Committee; Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only. 

11. By Competition Committee; Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection. 

12. By Competition Committee; Makes 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. 

13. By Competition Committee; Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews. 

14. By Competition Committee; Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock. 

15. By Competition Committee; Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.


Approved 2017 Bylaw Proposals

4.     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. 

5.     By Competition Committee; Changes 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.  

6.     By Competition Committee; The League office will transmit a Personnel Notice to clubs on Sundays during training camp and preseason.

Approved 2017 Resolution Proposal

G-4.     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.

Note: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect rule change allowing coaches to be hired before their team was eliminated from the playoffs. In actuality, the rule affects only non-football personnel. regrets the error. 

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