Breaking Down the NFL’s Weirdest New Rule Proposals for 2015

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The NFL’s rules committee sits down together in a series of meetings every year to discuss changes proposed by NFL teams to the game of football. This is not really news, at least not in the grand sense of news: People bemoan the death of the sport every year and are adverse to the changes that the owners and teams make in order to advance the sport. We fear change. That’s what we do as fans. We don’t want players to get old, teams to move, or rules to change. All of those things happen, though, and eventually adjustments are made. Remember the stir when ball carriers could lead with the crown of their helmets? Exactly.

In fact, the most refreshing thing about the annual rule committee powwow is the chance to examine the powers that be behind one of the most impenetrable sports organizations on the planet putting their thinking caps on and heading outside the box. The NFL, as a rule, does not do this often. It has a stodgy reputation, and that reputation is rooted in how it approaches the world at large: stodgily. Sure, most of the things that’ll be discussed are fairly boring — you can find the complete document here, and see for yourself — but sometimes they’ll be mulling over things that aren’t whether or not something should be available for instant replay (Spoiler: The NFL is all about expanding the use of instant replay). Sometimes they’re talking about seriously adventurous things. The big one this year is the nine-point possession.

Let’s break that down a little more. The official title is “2015 Playing Rule Proposal No. 15″ and you can find it on page 25 of that Scribd link. It reads:

Section 1 Value of ScoresArticle 2 Types of Scoring Plays.
Points are scored as follows (a)Touchdown: 6 points;
(b)Field Goal: 3 points; (c)Safety: 2 points; (d) Successful Try after touchdown: 1 point (Field Goal or Safety) or 2 points (Touchdown);(e)Bonus field goal after Successful Try-Touchdown: 1 point.

Wait, what? Let’s get into what this means after the jump.

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Let’s say Andrew Luck (and we’re going to say Andrew Luck because this idea comes courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts) hooks up with Andre Johnson for six in the end zone. OK, that’s six points on the board for the Colts. Nine times out of 10 they’d probably elect to kick a field goal. Let’s imagine now that they go for the two point conversion instead. And it’s a success: Indianapolis has now added eight points to their total. Under the current rules, the possession ends.

Under the new rules, Indy would have the opportunity to kick another field goal, for an additional point, from the 32 yard line. For everyone thinking three steps ahead: The way the rule is written, the defense can’t score on this possession under any circumstances, and if the offensive team manages to score a safety, they manage one point. But still, a nine point swing. Imagine the possibilities.

That is far and away the weirdest/coolest thing in the entire proposal, although the fact that the Patriots advocate for fixed cameras recording the game is good for one eye-roll worthy Spygate joke. They’re looking at changing the overtime rules a little bit, and they’re trying to codify player numbers for linebackers. Philadelphia and Chip Kelly would also like to make sure that that teams can conduct draft-prep test with players “provided that such players had not attended the League-wide Combine and Indianapolis.

None of this is set in stone, of course, but it provides a good look at where the league wants to take the game. Should they agree to any of it, we’ll let you know.