Every year the NFL owners institute changes to some of the rules that govern the game. Some of the changes have a negligible impact, while others can have a big and visible impact on the game.
This year the NFL is changing the rules on celebrations, which should certainly be visible in New York Giants games, the injured reserve, overtime, and the roster in pre-season.
Fun Is Legal Again?
After years of being the “No Fun League”, with increasing restrictions on what a player was allowed to do in celebration after making a play, the NFL (or more accurately, Roger Goodell) is changing course.
The NFL is expected to loosen the restrictions on celebrations and allow group celebrations, going to the ground, and using the football as a prop after a touchdown.
The league will still prohibit celebrations that include miming weapons, as well as celebrations that are aggressive or offensive. They’ll also continue to ban sexually suggestive celebrations, so the “Three Pump Rule” will continue to be a “No Pump Rule”.
No More 75-Man Roster
In a surprising move, the league is eliminating the first cut-down day that saw teams pare their roster down from 90 men to 75. Instead there will be just a single cut-down day after the fourth preseason game that sees the roster trimmed from 90 players down to 53.
The move gives fringe and bubble players more time to catch coaches’ attention and put a fourth preseason game on film. Both of these moves should help improve fringe players’ chances to make rosters. They may not be the roster of the team they went through the offseason with, but more tape for 480 players should improve their chances of catching on somewhere.
Two To Return from The IR
In another change the owners have voted to allow teams to bring two players off of the injured reserve. They NFL will likely never have a system like Major League Baseball, where teams can move players on and off the disabled list, while shuffling players within the organization to keep the roster at full strength — without opening them to being picked up by other teams.
However, this is a step in that direction. Last season the Giants brought Shane Vereen off the injured reserve after his torn triceps healed, only to have him promptly tear the muscle again. Should something like that happen this year, they will at least be able to bring a second player off of the injured reserve if he is healthy.
Overtime Shortened To 10 Minutes
One of the constant drumbeats in recent years is for increased player safety. In that vein, the owners have voted to reduce overtime from a fifth quarter to 10 minutes (of game clock). The overtime rules seem to be otherwise unchanged.
Overtime isn’t a terribly common occurrence, and games that go the full 75 minutes are even rarer. It will be interesting to see if the move has any tangible effect on both the number of ties and on the frequency of player injuries.