NFL Rule Changes Coming?

I plan to take a break today from commentary about the NCAA Tournament simply because I know that I will be back to that topic in a couple of days.  So, let me mention first that the NFL’s Competition Committee has been in session to consider making rule changes to the game to make it better in 2018.  They do this every year; so, don’t get your hopes up too high.  Of course, the rule that everyone wants to have “adjusted” is the one that defines what is a catch and what is not a catch.  According to reports, the Committee is indeed looking into that one.

However, there are reports about another rule change that will be proposed to the owners for a vote.  [Aside:  It takes an affirmative vote of 24 owners to put a rule change into effect, so the Committee only makes rule-change recommendations.]  This other rule-change could provide as many controversies as the confusion of the “catch/no-catch” rule interpretation has.  According to reports, the Committee will recommend that the replay officials in NY – the ones that have the final say on coaches’ challenges and “instant” replays – should also have the authority to eject players from games for “egregious non-football acts”.

There were two “incidents” in games last year that did not lead to ejections but did lead to the perpetrators sitting out a full game on a suspension.  Those were:

  1. Mike Evans (Bucs’ WR) assaulting Marshon Lattimore (Saints’ CB) from behind when Lattimore and Jameis Winston were in the midst of a “disagreement” on the sidelines.
  2. Rob Gronkowski (Pats’ TE) clocking Tre’Davious White (Bills’ CB) in the back of the head after a play was over.

I agree that both of those acts were “egregious” and were certainly not “football-acts”.  However, this rule change opens up a huge can of worms.  Remember years ago, when Terrell Owens was with the Niners and scored a TD and then ran to the Cowboys’ star logo at midfield and posed?  Was that “egregious”?  It surely was not a “football-act”.

I am all in favor of ejecting players who do things such as those perpetrated by Gronk and Evans.  I would not object to officials ejecting players who get into shoving matches that stop short of punches being thrown.  [Aside:  A great use of replay footage would be to identify the players who instigate fights/altercations on the field so that the instigators would be punished in addition to the responders.]  It would not bother me to see a player ejected for his second unnecessary roughing penalty or spearing penalty or things like that.  I am not worried at all about the “ejection” part of this rule.  Here is what worries me:

  1. I am not 100% confident that the “guys in NY” will get it right as often as not.  That lack of confidence comes from watching the same replay reviews that they do and reaching different conclusions about what the call must be.
  2. I need a lot more clarity around what “egregious” means and where the boundary is between a “football act” and a “random act of violence”.
  3. I believe that the upshot of this rule will be for the game officials to ignore completely any thoughts of player ejection(s) because they will know that the “guys in NY” can handle all of that.  This is an extension of what has happened with the instant replay rules; officials now realize that calls can be “made right” so there is less compulsion to get every one of them right in the first place.

This rule-change will be considered by the owners at their Spring Meeting in Orlando later this month…

Last week, a group of Jets’ fans sued the team.  Often when fans sue teams, the claims are only marginally above the “frivolous line” and sometimes do not even attain that lofty status.  This lawsuit seems to me to have a tad more meat on its bones.

Recently, the Jets decided to allow season tickets to be purchased in the mezzanine sections without the prior purchase of a PSL.  Up until that decision, the only way someone could be eligible to buy a season ticket to the Jets’ games was to first purchase a Personal Seat License; the current holders of those PSLs who also buy season tickets over and above the costs of those PSLs are now suing the Jets claiming that this decision renders their “investment” in their PSLs worthless.

On the other side of this argument, the Jets say that PSL holders would get benefits not available to the folks who buy their season tickets without the PSL “investment”.  These benefits would include:

  • Special access to exclusive team events
  • Discounts to team and stadium events
  • Ability to upgrade their seats to lower levels at “no additional fee”.

Given that the PSLs cost multiple thousands of dollars, those benefits seem like pretty thin gruel to me.  The concept that PSLs are some sort of “investment” is also pretty tenuous in my view.  I would categorize PSLs closer to “extortion” than to “investment grade” but that is just me.  I am glad not to be in the geographic area where potential jurors might be summoned to hear this case…

One final NFL note today is an addendum to the reports about some of the truly stupid questions that NFL teams ask of potential draftees at the NFL Combine.  Just about every year, there are reports of truly offensive – and borderline illegal – questions put to the young players at the Combine such as “Is your mother a prostitute?”  This year, one of the questions supposedly posed to Da’Shawn Hand (DL, Alabama) was:

  • “Do you like llamas?”

My answer to that question would have to be:

  • I love llamas.  I have two of them at home.  I named them “Dolly” and “Como se”.

Finally, Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle had this analysis of a recent NFL free agent signing:

“Derek Carr picks up Jordy Nelson at the airport and drives him around, showing him the sights. Because Nelson signed with the Raiders, I assume Carr didn’t show him the Coliseum.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………