While the start of the 2017 NFL season is currently months away, there are big changes up in the air for the league.
One of these potential incoming changes, as per NFL.com is the current overtime rules. The NFL Competition Committee will, in an upcoming meeting, propose to change the regulation 15 minute overtime period to 10 minutes (postseason games will remain 15 minutes). This has been proposed by the committee as a concern over the quality of competition. According to the NFL Research twitter page, over the past five NFL seasons there have been 83 regular season overtime games.
This incoming change should not come as a surprise as the NFL has changed the overtime rules over the years in order to better suit the league. Although the NFL began playing in 1920 (as the American Professional Football Association) and merged with the American Football League to form the current NFL in 1966, overtime was not incorporated until 1974.
In 2010, the league changed its overtime regulations for playoff games to a “sudden-death” system in which a winner could be decided more efficiently. In 2012, the NFL decided to also instate this change for the pre and regular season as well.
Along with the mix of topics up for debate at the next league meeting is also excessive celebration and banning line of scrimmage leaping. The latter of the two comes at the request of the Philadelphia Eagles and the National Football League Players Association.
Although pushed for by the player’s association, many players are not for the change. Seattle Seahawks defensive backs Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman have voiced their disapproval of the change, with Chancellor calling the NFL the “No Fun League”. Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner also advocated for the maneuver stating that it’s a fan favorite move.
The leap over the line of scrimmage is being considered for the change as it jeopardizes the safety of both the acting player and those around him. The execution of the maneuver takes precise timing, thus it is a rarely used move.
As for the rulings on excessive celebrations, the committee plans to give the referees more discretion before giving penalties. This includes “more flexibility to warn players about borderline celebrations without penalizing them for unsportsmanlike conduct”, as per NFL.com.
This move will surely be praised by various players around the league like Antonio Brown, who was penalized for twerking in the end zone last season, or Cam Newton, who is often targeted for his lengthy celebrations.
When asked during an interview with CBS whether the NFL was “taking the fun out of football” Newton had this to say:
“You get a lot of people who come to see touchdowns thrown, great defense as well as the celebrations. That’s just the footnote in it. I’m going to stay out of it, but I think we need to keep doing things that will make us celebrate. That’s my thoughts.”
It will be interesting to see how the referees will interpret the new level of discretion given to them, and how it affects player celebrations for the 2017 NFL season.