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Rich McKay gives insight on rule change proposals to be voted on by NFL owners


(Photo by: John Raoux)

ORLANDO – Although the catch rule will steal majority of the attention in the headlines coming out of league meetings this week, NFL officials will also be discussing the nine other rule proposal changes, bylaw proposals and more topics centric to the state of today's game.

While the competition committee has spent a large majority of their time rewriting the catch rule, they've discussed all of the rule proposals at length. Rich McKay, Falcons president and the NFL competition committee chairman, provided insight on a few of the other rule change proposals that owners will vote on this week.

The competition committee isn't the only party that can submit a rule change proposal. NFL clubs are also allowed to submit a proposal as three teams selected to do so this year. The proposal the New York Jets submitted is one that's garnered a significant amount of attention.

Big change for defensive pass interference?

The Jets are proposing that rather than defensive pass interference being a spot foul, it becomes a 15-yard penalty like in the college game. Right now in the NFL, if defensive pass interference is called, it's an automatic first down at the spot of the foul. The concern for some here is that if the rule were to be changed to a 15-yard penalty, defensive players might be more inclined to interfere if they happen to get beaten down the field rather than giving up a 40-plus yard completion.

When digging deeper into this rule and how many times it was enforced, McKay said they found only 11 defensive pass interference penalties that were more than 40-plus yards.

"The issue with that has always been when we talk to our coaches, they are very convinced that the athlete that plays at our level is a much different athlete then that's playing at the college level," McKay said. "Therefore [it] would change the game if they knew if they got themselves in trouble or they were in a place where someone was going to run by them, they could just pull them down. They believe the tactics would change. People think there is this huge number of penalties, they're aren't. There are a lot of 20-yard defensive pass interference [penalties], [but] more than half of all the calls in any season are less than 15-yards."

Ejections for non-football acts?

Another big item for the competition committee has been identifying who has the authority to eject a player for a non-football act when a foul for that act has been called on the field.

The competition committee is proposing that the league official in New York designated to that game be involved on this rule.

"Allowing New York to eject players for non-football acts," McKay said. "When a fight breaks out, in that instance, when you talk to the on-field officials they have a really tough time figuring out, who's to blame? Who should go, who shouldn't go? They are trying to figure it out and it's really hard. As long as the action is related to the flag on the field he gets to look at it and make sure the right people have been punished and if there's someone else who needs to go, goes."

It's not a rule change proposal per say, but another topic that's been discussed at length is the bylaw proposal of allowing coaches to use video on the sidelines.

Will coaches be allowed to view videos on sidelines?

Currently, coaches are only able to access still shots on their tables during games, not video. With the digital age progressing, McKay is in favor of changing the access for coaches from still shots to video, a rule he knows will "definitely be debated."

"I look at it as the younger player today has really learned his whole life off of video. To me, you see it on high school sidelines. You have it in college, I think it's just time for us. It's progress. It's a teaching tool, it's better for the players."

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