Rich McKay on NFL Rule Changes Dan Leberfeld

Here are the comments of Rich McKay, a key figure on the NFL Competition Committee, at the end of the Owner’s Meeting in Boca Raton . . .

Rich McKay: There were 19 playing rules proposals. Nine were voted yes, six were voted down, three were withdrawn and one was tabled.

The PAT proposal, which is an example of a proposal that took a long, long time to get passed and then last year was passed for one year, passed this year without a vote against.

We passed the coach to player which just allows the coach to communicate directly to the player from the press box, just giving more flexibility if you will for the coaches as to where they actually call their plays from, both defense and offense.

A very significant change for us from a safety perspective is the complete elimination of the chop block. It has been a part of our game for a long time. There has been plenty of teams and schemes that have relied upon that technique. It is not one that has overwhelmed us in injury data, but it is not one that we have felt good about over the years as we’ve continued to limit that play where it was legal, and this year we were able to eliminate it totally which I think is a good thing.

We passed this morning an amended playing rule proposal for automatic ejection after two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. We amended it to make it for one year only. We heard some of the coaches and some of their concerns yesterday about the rule and how the rule would be used, so we wanted to amend it and make it for one year and we passed that today.

We passed moving the touchback to the 25, which we do think has a safety element to it. We passed that also for one year because we do want to see if it changes the numbers and how it impacts the game because there is that thought that there will be some more short kicks. We’ll see.

The other ones that passed, the horse collar. We expanded the horse collar protection. The horse collar has been a concern of ours because of the buckling action when a player gets pulled backwards, we feel it’s really a play of tremendous risk to the player and so we wanted to expand that protection and we were able to do that.

Bylaw proposals, we’ve had a couple pass today. We had bylaw proposal number five pass from Minnesota which is on injury settlements with players and the ability to get those players back on your team sooner.

We changed our designated to return rule. This one, designated to return, was submitted by Buffalo. Good change in our mind. It allows that one player that you’re allowed to get back during the season off of IR, it allows you the flexibility of not having to designate that player when you put that player on injured reserve or non-football injury. So the way the rule works is after the final cut, you can have one player that you can designate for return and have that player come back. Now you don’t have to designate the player. You designate the player when his time is up.