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   It’s the game everyone loves, from flag football and backyard football with our dad to the gridiron of high school, and to the great NFL. They all have the same goal, to beat the opponents on the other side of the ball and come out on top. It’s the same game from the bottom to the top but, the rules are changing, especially in the NFL but, at what point is it too much. Is the current system of changes/ rule changes improving the game? At the highest level in the NFL, they make many changes some players and fans may not like them but there is a lot more that goes behind a change then just a random idea for a change.

The NFL has a set system for rule changes that get input from many different sides and goes through a committee and to be voted on. The committee in charge is the NFL Competition committee which has carefully selected members and they ask a series of questions before proposing a rule change. There is Also science, health, and data that go into every change they make. The current system in the NFL for changes made to the game is the best it could be.The Process of Rule ChangesThe NFL has a motto for the changes they make ” The NFL is committed to protecting it’s players from unnecessary risk, while keeping the game fair, competitive and exciting.”(2017 Rules Changes and Points of Emphasis). It’s a simple but complex system used for making changes, it’s necessary to make the NFL the best it can be as was stated above in their motto.

The NFL has a designated team in charge of suggesting rule changes. The team is the NFL competition committee, they take input from players,  owners, referees, coaches, and NFL legends while also using data recorded from the season and data from science to consider rule changes. Once they get a list of potential changes they ask a few questions about each change. Does this change improve, worsen or have no effect on the game? Can this be officiated or not? Can it be coached or not? Can the players play by rule or not? After they go through and finalize the suggested changes then proposed them to all 32 club owners(NFL team owner) to vote on which ones to approve and reject or extend(for the one year only changes). For rule change to pass there must be a 75% vote which means 24 out 32 clubs must vote yes and less than 8 votes no. Once the changes are approved and finalized, the NFL goes over changes with all officials, coaches and players while they in training camp. Both the NFL Officiating Clinic and the Rookie Transition Program are there to help all players, officials and coaches learn and adapt to the changes.

The officiating department of the NFL provides train videos with specific examples of the changes for everyone.The NFL Competition Committee The NFL Competition Committee’s purpose is “Working to maintain competitive balance and consistency throughout the NFL,”(The NFL Competition Committee). They do this by reviewing every competitive aspect of the game, like player protection, roster regulations, game-day operations, technology, playing rules and much more. For everything, they review they take into consideration the opinions/input from NFLPA(NFL Players Association), players, experts, league committees, clubs and many other sources. At the end of each season, the NFL Competition Committee has all 32 NFL take a survey for opinions on the following, technology, competitive balance, officiating and player protection. Before the Nation Sports Combine Indianapolis Indiana, the NFL Competition Committee “meets with coaches, general managers, players and NCAA representatives to gather input potential changes to the rules.

There is also a review of data on injuries, instant replay, and technology,”(NFL Competition Committee). After this, they go through the process that was stated in the second paragraph. More on the NFL Competition Committee, they were founded in 1968 by NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle and it replaced the Rules Committee which was founded in 1932. The NFL Competition Committee is made up of a mix of NFL owners, club presidents, general managers and head coaches. They are selected by the commissioner, the current commissioner is Roger Goodell and he picked a total 10 members made up of three head coaches, three general managers, two club presidents and two owners. Those members are, chairmen Rich Mckay the club president for the Atlanta Falcons, John Mara the owner of the New York Giants, Stephen Jones the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Mark Murphy the club president of the Green Bay Packers, Ozzie Newsome the general manager of the Baltimore Ravens, Rick Smith general manager for the Houston Texans, Marvin Lewis the head coach for the Cincinnati Bengals, Mike Tomlin the head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bruce Arians the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, John Elway the general manager of the Denver Broncos and Sean Payton the head coach for the New Orleans Saints. These guys have the power to make a change in the NFL and do what’s best for player protection and by  “Working to maintain competitive balance and consistency throughout the NFL,”(The NFL Competition Committee).The History Of The RulesEven when football first started it had rules but imagine if those rules never changed in the NFL.

some of the first rules were “A quarterback can’t throw a pass unless he’s at least 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage. The offense begins some plays just a yard from the sideline and is penalized for throwing more than one pass during a series of downs. Player substitutions are prohibited. No communication from the sideline is allowed.

Players from both teams grab their opponent’s facemasks at will,”(The History Of The Rules). Getting an understanding of where a lot of rules first started will ultimately help the comprehension of how the rules are what they are today and how the system changing them really is revolutionary. The league is open to change and one good example of changes to improve the game is the evolution of the kickoff rules.

“In 1974, owners approved the Competitions Committee’s recommendation to move the kick from the 40-yard line to the 35-yard line. Part of a broad package designed to rev up the game to produce more exciting returns. And it worked: Kickoff return rates immediately jumped from 75 to 95 percent,”(The History Of The Rules). Then ” In 1994, after statistics showed the rate dropping precipitously, the league moved the kick to the 30-yard line. That boosted the return rate to 88 percent in the 1994 season from 68 the previous year,”(The History Of The Rules). Then “In the 2000s, Kickoff-play injuries became a concern. The committee examined videotape to determine the cause of those injuries and found one source to be ‘wedges’ wedges of three or more blockers.

In 2009, the owners approved a committee proposal to ban return team players from linking up I this formation. A few years later, however, the committee rejected the idea of a ban on two-player wedges,”(The History Of The Rules). Lastly “In 2011, the league moved the kicking line back to the 35-yard line to reduce the return rate; it also limited running starts with the kicking team. The number of concussions on kickoffs dropped by 40 percent during the 2011 season, and the return rate fell from 80 to nearly 50 percent,”(The History Of The Rules). The kickoff rules evolution is just one of part of many in the history of the rules in the NFL. Some of the rules are based on certain plays that will forever change the game like the immaculate reception which later leads to the legalizing of the double touch forward pass in 1978. The Lester Hayes rule which leads to the ban on the use of stickum to help catch the ball.

There is a lot more like the Hines Ward rule, the Shazier rule and many more.Health/Injuries ” The NFL is committed to protecting all players and helping to create a healthier experience for athletes across all sports,”(Creating a Safer Football Experience). The NFL has been working to make the game safer but even with all the changes, there is still some eye-popping injuries like spine injuries, any type of tear, heart problems, Achilles injuries and sprained ankles are some of the worse. Even though they still happen, they have become less and less frequent every year and the NFL is striving to make the necessary changes to eliminate these injuries but, these injuries are not fully preventable but the NFL has made great progress and doesn’t need to change the process it has in place making any type of change.2017 Rule ChangesThere was a total of nine rule changes in 2017 to the NFL. The first one “Makes all actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half,”(The NFL Rulebook 4-7-1 and 4).

This limits the things you can do to stop the clock when there are 2 minutes left. The next one “Spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick remains at the 25-yard line (for one year only),”(The NFL Rulebook 11-6-3). This is an extension rule from last year that gives the receiving team extra 5 yards by moving the ball up to the 25-yard line instead of the 20-yard line to keep the game exciting. The next rule “Prohibits crackback blocks by a backfield player in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.”(The NFL Rulebook 12-2-2). This just makes the game safer for everyone, everyone has experienced those blindside hits and they are a pain, this was a must.

The next rule ” Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection,”(The NFL Rulebook 12-2-7). This is another protection rule. The next rule  “Prohibits a player who is off the line of scrimmage from running and jumping over the line of scrimmage in an attempt to block an FG or PAT attempt.

“(The NFL Rulebook 12-3-1). This forces the defense to go around on the outside instead of hurdling over the line. The next rule “Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock,”(The NFL Rulebook 12-3-3). This one seems appropriate to keep the players in line with the rules. The next rule, 12-4-1 “Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock,”(The NFL Rulebook 12-4-1).

This serves as somewhat as an extension of rule 12-3-3 to keep the game safe and keep the players behaving properly. Rule 15-2-3 is a great technology booster by ” Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews,”(The NFL Rulebook 15-2-3). And finally rule 16-1-4 “Reduces the length of preseason and regular season overtime periods to 10 minutes,”(The NFL Rulebook 16-1-4). This reduces the really lengthy overtime of 15 min to 10 min which will keep fans tuned. All of these rules are made possible thanks to the recommendations by the NFL Competition Committee that were approved by the owners and there is much more to come year after year.The NFL has come a long way from the beginning of football. From the evolution of the kickoff to many other rules, they were all made for the better.

The NFL has successfully reduced injuries, made the game safer and more fun to watch with the help of the NFL Competition Committee. The current system in place for rule changes is great and should keep going and hopefully make many more changes, to make the game safer, competitive and exciting while keeping it fair.

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