NFL owners table 'launching' rule, approve replay change
NEW ORLEANS — A rule that would give offensive players more protection — and perhaps make things more difficult for defensive players like the Steelers' James Harrison — will be revisited by NFL owners when they meet again in May.
The owners tabled a recommendation by the league's competition committee to prohibit defensive players from "launching" before making a hit as well as adding protection for receivers.
"The coaches didn't feel it was as clear as it could have been," Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian said Tuesday near the end of the NFL owners meetings. "I think there was some confusion about what the rule was trying to do."
Steelers president Art Rooney II had expressed reservations about the proposed changes, saying Monday that they might put too much responsibility on referees to make judgment calls.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has made player safety a top priority, said clarifications will be made to the rules changes and presented again to the owners.
At least 24 out of 32 owners have to approve the rule changes if they vote on them in May.
The competition committee had sought to eliminate any gray area when it comes to defenseless players by defining what the NFL considers launching — as well as the eight instances in which a player is considered in a defenseless position.
The recommendation by the competition committee followed the NFL's crackdown on dangerous hits last October. Harrison, the Pro Bowl outside linebacker, was fined three times for $95,000 after the league aggressively enforced rules regarding unnecessary roughness.
Ray Anderson, the NFL's executive vice president of operations, said last week that the league will suspend players this season who are repeat or egregious violators of those rule.
"I never thought (Harrison) had malicious intent in any of those circumstances," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said yesterday. "The guy's just trying to play the game the way he knows how, within the guidelines that are prescribed by the NFL.
"I think that's a tightrope we're all trying to walk. With that there's going to be some growing pains if you will, and I think we all experienced that in some form or fashion a year ago during the season and really fully expect it to be a smoother journey in 2011."
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, a member of the competition committee, agreed.
"We have seen a change," the McDonald native said. "You always coach to keep their eyes and head up. When you lead with the head, you risk injury to yourself."
Here are the two rules that NFL owners approved Tuesday following recommendations from the league's competition committee:
? Change to kickoff: Teams will kick off from the 35-yard line instead of the 30-yard line. In addition, no player other than the kicker will be allowed to start more than 5 yards behind the kickoff line. Two proposals from the competition committee were rejected: putting the ball at the 25-yard line instead of the 20-yard line after touchbacks, and prohibiting two-man wedges on kickoff returns.
• Instant replay: Any scoring plays are now subject to review by a replay official • the same as it has been for any play in the last two minutes of each half. In taking the onus off coaches for challenging plays in which a touchdown, field goal or safety is scored, the competition committee had recommended that coaches receive only two challenges per game. But coaches will still be awarded a third challenge if they are successful on their first two challenges. The Steelers and Raiders were the only teams to vote against it.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- LeBeau won’t join Cardinals coaching staff
- Increasing pressure on QBs will be offseason focus for Steelers
- Steelers sign punter Wing to 1-year extension
- Steelers’ Rooney says both teams should use same footballs
- Steelers mum on national report involving head of security
- Steelers injured running back Bell won’t be in uniform for Pro Bowl
- Steelers’ Rooney ‘not expecting a problem’ with new Big Ben deal