NFL owners ban two types of play

No vote yet on offensive helmet-contact rule

The NFL owners approved two changes to field goals Tuesday.  They banned overloading a formation while attempting to block a field goal or extra point. Players not on the line can’t push teammates on the line into blockers, either. Enlarge photo

Joe Amon/The Denver Post file photo

The NFL owners approved two changes to field goals Tuesday. They banned overloading a formation while attempting to block a field goal or extra point. Players not on the line can’t push teammates on the line into blockers, either.

PHOENIX

Concerned with how it will be officiated, NFL owners delayed voting Tuesday on a rule change that would ban offensive players from using the crown of their helmets against defenders in the open field.

After approving two other rule changes to enhance player safety, they stalled on the more contentious issue. NFL senior vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said the owners plan to vote on it Wednesday before the meetings end.

The owners outlawed peel-back blocks anywhere on the field; previously, they were illegal only inside the tackle box. A player makes a peel-back block when he is moving toward his goal line, approaches an opponent from behind or the side, and makes contact below the waist. The penalty will be 15 yards.

“... Really under no circumstances will you be permitted to block low below the waist when you’re blocking back towards your own end line,” said Rams coach Jeff Fisher, co-chairman of the competition committee.

Also banned is overloading a formation while attempting to block a field goal or extra point. Defensive teams now can have only six or less players on each side of the snapper at the line of scrimmage. Players not on the line can’t push teammates on the line into blockers, either.

The alignment violation is a 5-yard penalty. The pushing penalty is 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.

“There were injuries, yes,” Fisher said. “Talking to coaches and the players, it’s just not something they look forward to doing. It’s like, ‘Oh, we scored again? We have to go out there and protect, kick an extra point or try?”’

But the potential change that has drawn the most attention – yes, even more than eliminating the infamous tuck rule, which seems to be a foregone conclusion and will be voted on today – is prohibiting ball carriers outside the tackle box from lowering their helmets and making contact with the crown.

New York Giants owner John Mara, a member of the competition committee that has recommended the change, said there was “a chance” a vote could be tabled until the May meetings in Boston.

“There was a spirited discussion,” Mara said.

Many coaches have said they are concerned about officiating such a new rule.

“We want to make a serious attempt to get the shoulder back into the game. We are not saying the ball carrier cannot get small. We are not saying the ball carrier cannot protect the football, because if he is going to go down to cover the football, if the shoulder goes down, we know the head goes down; we understand that.

“Protecting the football is OK, providing you do not strike with the crown of your helmet, and that is what we are trying to differentiate,” Fisher said.

Blandino said the league wants flags thrown only on the obvious calls. He also said in cases where a player is not penalized, he still could be subject to a fine if video review after the game determines he made contact with the crown.

The penalty will be a spot foul for 15 yards.

Riveron said the key is in showing the officials more plays that are legal.

“That will be a great way to train because as we know it, most of the shots we have seen are legal, most of the contact is legal,” he said. “We are trying to get that one individual situation where the head is lowered – and you can see on the field, you can see a player put his head down – and the contact is with the crown and you can see it.”