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Get Your Pencils, NFL Rules Updates

The NFL annouced several changes to the rule book yesterday as part of the Owner's Meetings in Arizona.  Here is a summary of what players can and can't do --

There will now be a 5-yard penalty for players spiking the ball or throwing it up in the air on the field after a play.  Players will still be allowed to spike after a touchdown, but guys like Detroit's Roy Williams will no longer be able to celebrate a 3-yard slant play with a spike or toss.  Now, if only they would disallow the horrible "first down" dance Williams has made famous, even when his team is losing by 20.

Replay was approved for life, winning by a large margin.  Tweaks to replay included making the "down-by-contact" element permanent.  The league also lowered the time allowed to referees to review plays to 60 seconds.

The last remnants of the rediculus rules regarding crowd noise was thnkafully struck from the rule book with the removal of the of the provision allowing quarterbacks to ask the referee to reset the play clock becuase the fans are too loud.  I was just talking with my wife about those dark days when quarterbacks could go to the officials when the stadium was too loud and the referee would actually threaten the home team with a penalty if the crowd didn't lower the volume.  STUPID!

A proposal to expand the game day rosters by two from 45 to 47 was defeated.  Teams are still allowed to dress a third quarterback that does not count against that total.

A pass that unintentionally hits an offensive lineman is no longer a penalty.

Quarterbacks will have to get a bit tougher, with the "roughing the passer" rule actually being lessened a bit.  A defender that is engaged with a quarterback who simply extends his arms and shoves the passer to the ground will not be penalized.  A refreshing change to a league that is getting tougher and tougher with how quarterbacks are protected.  In what might be a surprise to you, roughing penalties have actually treded downward the last few seasons with 135 in 2004, 127 in '05, and 106 last season.

Eliminated a player scoring a touchdown without the ball going over the pylon at the goal line in the front-corner of the endzone.  In english, that means some part of the ball MUST cross inside the pylon, not just the players' body.

One change that was proposed that was tabled until further notice is a proposal to move the kickoff in overtime from the 30 to the 35-yard line.  In essence it would give the kickoff team a bit of an advantage by allowing more OT kick-offs to travel to the endzone, meaning more possessions would probably start from the 20.  The NFL's OT structure has been debated for many years, and statistics show that the winner of the OT coin toss wins 64 percent of the games, though Denver wasn't able to pull that off against the 49'ers in the season finale.  Several teams have promoted the idea of a two-possession rule, where each team is required to get the ball once.  Teams in favor of that were uninspired to make a tweak to the system since their main goal is an extensive overhaul of the OT system.

Overall, nothing that will make headlines, but rules that are sure to be noticed the first time someone loses a first down for spiking the ball at the 35 yard line late in the 4th quarter....