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Rich McKay, Falcons team president and chairman of the NFL's Competition Committee, held a news conference Monday to discuss some of the changes that are being proposed to the rule book for the upcoming season.
I talked a little bit about one of the main rule-change proposals — changing the kickoff yard line — that's gotten quite a bit of traction the past week or so, but McKay spent a good deal of time Monday explaining a change to the language of the defenseless player rule.
I won't pretend to know everything there is about legal jargon and official NFL mumbo jumbo, so I'll do my best to use McKay's words instead of trying to explain it myself.
A section has been added to the defenseless player rule to take into account "illegal launching," which McKay explained as, "When a player leaves both feet either prior to or during contact to spring forward and upward, and then strikes the opponent with the initial force being with his helmet."
McKay goes on to explain that changes in equipment technology over the years has created a mindset amongst players that helmets and shoulder pads are "almost armament," McKay said, instead of protection.
This rule, as McKay stated, is directed at trying to get the technique of launching out of the game.
Also proposed is an expansion of the definition of a defenseless receiver. We've all seen plays in recent years where we've thought a personal foul penalty should be called because a receiver was in a defenseless position when getting hit. McKay and the Competition Committee are looking to more clearly define the term:
"Basically, what we're saying in this rule is that a defenseless receiver is one defined as, 'either attempting to catch a pass, or who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself, or who has not clearly become a runner.' We're just trying to expand that window. We've got a lot of players, too many players, that are catching the ball, landing with two feet on the ground (and) before they can do anything, they get hit and they get hit in the head. In our mind, that's kind of defenseless."
Concerning the more noted kickoff rule, McKay said this rule is 100 percent about player safety. The proposal, if approved, would move the kickoff yard line from the 30 to the 35 to encourage more touchbacks.
"I don't blame any of them for saying, 'Wow, this is a big change.' It is a proposed big change," McKay said. "I don't blame anybody for pushing back. But our focus in this one was dealing with what we saw and felt with respect to the safety issues, and the need to propose some changes, these are the proposals we came up with."
That proposal could be voted on by the owners today.
By the way, if you're interested in reading McKay's news conference transcript, you can find it right here.
Also, if you'd like a little more context and opinion on what these changes mean, NFL.com has got you taken care of.
UPDATE (1 p.m.): Owners have voted to move kickoffs up to the 35-yard line, but the proposal to start touchbacks at the 25-yard line was turned down. Touchbacks will continue to start at the 20.
Now, tell us your thoughts.