One of the most newsworthy items to come out of each year’s NFL Annual Meeting is rules changes. Both proposals that are adopted and those that are not end up being notable, as some suggestions take a few years to go into effect.
In order to change the rules in the NFL, the Competition Committee considers proposals from a variety of sources, as well as presenting its own suggestions to the entire group of league owners. As a result, the Committee’s eight members — coaches and executives from around the league — have a great deal of responsibility. Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay chairs the committee, which currently consists of two owners, two team presidents (including Green Bay Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy), two general managers, and two head coaches.
The Committee then presents the proposed changes to the entire group of NFL owners for a vote. A three-quarters vote is necessary for passage, meaning that 24 of the 32 owners (including Murphy as the Packers’ representative) must vote to approve in order for the change to take effect.
Here’s the full list of proposed changes for the 2019 meeting. However, a breakdown of several of the notable proposals is below.
Making Penalties Reviewable
This is a two-part proposal that the Competition Committee has put forth. The first part would make pass interference penalties reviewable, with a trial period of one year. It also expands automatic reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers that are negated by a penalty as well as any PAT or two-point conversion attempt.
Part two is essentially the same as part one, except it expands the slate of reviewable penalties to also include roughing the passer and unnecessary roughness in regards to a defenseless player.
The second part may have been helpful last season in reference to the penalties assessed against Clay Matthews early in the season. Perhaps the roughing call in the tie game against the Vikings could have been overturned, allowing Jaire Alexander’s interception to stand and giving the Packers a win.
Several other teams submitted different versions of similar rules proposals, but the Committee’s own submissions are likely to be the ones that gain the most traction (and they encompass all except one, which will show up later).
It seems that every time a team loses a big game in overtime without getting the ball on offense, a rule change proposal comes up. Not surprisingly, the Kansas City Chiefs submitted this year’s proposal to give both teams an offensive possession, even when the first team to get the ball scores a touchdown. That proposal also would eliminate overtime in the preseason, as well as get rid of the overtime coin toss, instead giving the team that won the pregame coin toss the option to kick or receive in OT.
Replace Onside Kicks
It’s nearly impossible to execute an onside kick in the NFL nowadays. Thus, the Denver Broncos proposed a change to the onside kick rule, effectively allowing a team who trails to attempt a fourth-and-15 from its own 35-yard line.
This rule could actually pass, too; it reportedly got seven out of eight votes from the members of the Competition Committee, on which Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy serves. Murphy clearly voted for it, since New York Giants owner John Mara was vociferous in his opposition to the change.
The change would still allow teams to attempt an onside kick if they so choose, but given the conversion rates, it is difficult to imagine a team doing so in an obvious onside situation.
Make EVERYTHING Reviewable
This one probably won’t pass. However, Washington submitted a proposal to make quite literally every play in the game reviewable via coaches challenge or by the replay assistant inside the final two minutes of the half and overtime.