The NFL passed several new rules for the 2017 season and beyond on Monday and Tuesday at the Annual League Meeting of team owners in Phoenix, two of which are designed to increase player safety.

These rule changes come after Commissioner Roger Goodell announced late last week that the NFL is planning to make changes to quicken the flow and pace of games with less or shorter commercial breaks. On Monday, 31 of the 31 team owners (all except the Miami Dolphins’) voted to approve the Oakland Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas. 

Firstly, team owners passed a rule that forbids players from jumping over offensive linemen during kicks as a strategy to block field goals or extra points, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday.

The Philadelphia Eagles proposed the rule change, which was backed by the NFL Players Association, who cited player safety as a reason for their support.


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“The jumping over on the field goal, I think, is just leading to a really dangerous play for everybody,” offensive lineman Eric Winston, the NFLPA’s president, said earlier this offseason, via the Washington Post. “If you jump over the center, the jumper is in a really bad spot. He can land on his head. I think the guys that are getting jumped over are going to end up getting hurt, with those guys landing on them. So I’ll be very interested to see what they’ll do there. I think something probably needs to be done.”

Defenders leaping over an offensive lineman, typically the long snapper, have managed to deliver game-changing blocks with such a move. Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor, for example, has blocked several kicks. Denver’s Justin Simmons changed the result of last season’s game against the New Orleans Saints by jumping over the line and blocking a would-be go-ahead extra point, which was returned for two points to give the Broncos a 25-23 victory.

Also at the end of last season, in December, New England Patriots linebacker Shea McLellin blocked a 34-yard field goal attempt from the Baltimore Ravens’ Justin Tucker in the first quarter. The block marked Tucker’s only missed field goal of the season out of 29 attempts.

Some players may be opposed to the new rule, but safety seems like a more than reasonable justification for instituting the change.

Another rule change NFL owners voted to approve on Tuesday was one stating that egregious hits to the head will now be penalized with automatic ejections. This new rule comes a year after the league ruled that players who committed two personal fouls in the same game would receive automatic ejections.

Here are some of the other NFL rules instituted on Tuesday:

  • The Washington Redskins’ proposal to place the ball at the 20-yard-line if the kicker puts it through the uprights on a kickoff failed, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported.
  • The owners also approved centralized replay, giving senior VP of officiating Dean Blandino and the New York command center final say on calls in question, NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones reported.
  • Touchbacks on kickoffs will once again result in teams starting from the 25-yard line. The rule was renewed by team owners for another year rather than being made permanent.
  • Any action to save time after the two-minute warning of either half would be deemed illegal and would now be penalized.

Here are the rest of the rules voted on thus far:

We’ll have to wait until the 2017 season begins whether these new rules actually lead to fewer player concussions or severe injuries.

HOUSTON, TX – FEBRUARY 01: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks with the media during a press conference for Super Bowl 51 at the George R. Brown Convention Center on February 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

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