Rule changes for 2013 outlined

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 2, 2013 – 11:59 am

NFL referee Bill Vinovich and part of his crew showed a video to media on Friday — the same video the players also will watch — that outlined the rule changes and points of emphasis for officiating in 2013. Here is the summary:

–A ball carrier who strikes a forcible blow with the crown of his helmet outside the tackle box will be flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness. Three components must be present to constitute a foul — the offensive player lining up the defensive player, lowering his head, and striking a forcible blow with the crown. If the offensive and defensive player are not lined up and coming at one another from an angle, there is no penalty. It’s also not a penalty if the contact occurs within the tackle box, which extends 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. “It’s meant to be an open-field penalty,” Vinovich said, and it won’t be called on goal-line plays. Vinovich added that after a comprehensive film study of the 2012 season, the penalty would have been called only three times.

–Defenses can have no more than six players on either side of the snapper on a field goal or point-after try. Also, defensive players on such plays can no longer throw any blocks below the waist, and the long snapper has been given the same protections as “defenseless” players, meaning no contact to that player’s head or neck area is allowed with the head, shoulder or forearm of another player.

–Peel-back blocks, in which an offensive player comes at a defensive player from the side and blocks him below the waist, are now illegal anywhere on the field. They were previously illegal only outside the tackle box.

–Thigh and knee pads are required to be worn by all players.

–The “tuck rule” has been eliminated. The forward passing motion is now considered stopped as soon as the “tuck” begins, not when it ends. If a passer loses control of the ball while trying to tuck it back into his body, it’s a fumble.

–Plays that are to be automatically reviewed by instant replay (scores, turnovers, under 2 minutes left in each half, overtime) will still be reviewed even if a head coach erroneously throws a challenge flag. Previously, if a challenge flag were thrown on an automatically reviewed play, the review would be canceled as long as it had not yet started. Now, the team needlessly throwing the challenge flag will be charged with a timeout, or penalized 15 yards if it has no timeouts, but the play will still be reviewed.

–Points of emphasis include bringing ball carriers deemed “in the grasp” under the umbrella of “defenseless” players, and calling facemask fouls on offensive players if they grasp and control a defensive player’s facemask while in the act of throwing a stiff arm or escaping a tackle attempt.

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NFL, officials come to agreement

Posted by Duke Bobber on September 26, 2012 – 11:20 pm

Joint statement from NFL and NFLRA

The NFL and NFLRA are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement tonight on an eight-year collective bargaining agreement, subject to ratification by the NFLRA.

“Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement.”

“Our Board of Directors has unanimously approved taking this proposed CBA to the membership for a ratification vote,” said Scott Green, president of the NFLRA. “We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games.”

Press Release

The NFL and the NFL Referees Association agreed tonight to the terms of a new eight-year collective bargaining agreement that will return the game officials to the field for this weekend’s games, beginning with Thursday night’s Cleveland at Baltimore game.

The agreement, the longest with the game officials in NFL history, was reached in New York between the negotiating teams for the NFL and the NFLRA with the assistance of Scot Beckenbaugh and Peter Donatello of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. The agreement must be ratified by the NFLRA membership. Under the commissioner’s authority, Commissioner Goodell can enter into this agreement without a vote of the NFL clubs.

Commissioner Goodell temporarily lifted the lockout so that the officials can work Thursday night’s Cleveland at Baltimore game prior to their ratification vote. The officials will meet Friday and Saturday to vote on the agreement.  If it is approved, a clinic for the officials will be held following the vote.

“The long-term future of our game requires that we seek improvement in every area, including officiating,” Commissioner Goodell said. “This agreement supports long-term reforms that will make officiating better. The teams, players and fans want and deserve both consistency and quality in officiating.”

“We look forward to having the finest officials in sports back on the field, and I want to give a special thanks to NFL fans for their passion. Now it’s time to put the focus back on the teams and players where it belongs.”

The agreement includes the following key terms:

– Eight-year term covering the 2012-2019 seasons.

– The current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season (or until the official earns 20 years of service). The defined benefit plan will then be frozen.

– Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution arrangement, which will have two elements:  an annual league contribution made on behalf of each game official that will begin with an average of more than $18,000 per official and increase to more than $23,000 per official in 2019, and a partial match on any additional contribution that an official makes to his 401(k) account.

– Apart from their benefit package, the game officials’ compensation will increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019.

– Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option of hiring a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year-round, including on the field.

– The NFL will have the option to retain additional officials for training and development purposes, and may assign those additional officials to work NFL games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the NFL.

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Hawk thought refs might tell Packers they won

Posted by Mike Spofford on September 26, 2012 – 8:41 pm

Here’s a little humor to add to the aftermath of the controversial ending to Monday night’s game in Seattle.

Following the replay review and decision to uphold the touchdown on the final play, the Packers left the field. Several minutes later, the officials came into Green Bay’s locker room to inform the team that at least 11 players needed to return to the field so Seattle could kick the extra point.

The Packers were so convinced they’d won the game that seeing the officials drop in for a visit actually got their hopes up, momentarily.

“When I saw the refs come back in, I thought they were going to tell us we won the game, honestly,” linebacker A.J. Hawk said on Wednesday. “I think a lot of people thought that. But they were saying we had to get back on the field.

“That was obviously a weird moment for everybody.  I think it was pretty tense for those refs. They didn’t feel super-comfortable in there. But who knows, 30 years from now hopefully it’s a decent story to tell, but for now we’re 1-2 and we need to find a way to change that.”

The Packers will try to change that with a relatively healthy team. On Wednesday, there were just two additions to the injury report — RT Bryan Bulaga (knee) and DE Jerel Worthy (shoulder) — but both players were still limited participants in practice. The other limited participants were CB Davon House (shoulder), WR Greg Jennings (groin) and LB Jamari Lattimore (ankle).

The only player on the active roster who is listed as “did not participate” was S Sean Richardson (hamstring). Both TE Tom Crabtree (shoulder) and RB James Starks (toe) are listed on the report but were full participants.

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