OXNARD, Calif. – NFL officials met with the media Sunday following Jason Garrett's press conference to discuss changes made to the NFL rule book during the past offseason.
Officials ran film depicting all major rule changes to be enforced during the 2013 season:
- As has been discussed extensively, running backs are no longer allowed to make contact with the crown of their helmet. If a ball carrier outside the tackle box lines up with a defender and lowers his head to use the crown against a tackler, a 15-yard penalty will be assessed.
- On all kicking plays, the defense can no longer block below the waist, and they may no longer push players into the line or stack one side of the line of scrimmage.
- Also on kicking plays, the long snapper is now a defenseless player and may not be engaged until he becomes an active blocker.
- Peel back blocks, in which an offensive player blocks a defender below the waist from either in front or from the side, will now draw a 15-yard flag.
- Thigh pads and knee pads – all pads worn below the waist – are now mandatory for all players. If it's determined a player isn't wearing pads, he can't return to the field of play until he fixes his uniform.
- The infamous "tuck rule" has now been amended so that the passing motion ends when the quarterback begins to tuck the ball. Under the new rule, Tom Brady's famous incomplete pass from the 2001-02 playoffs would have been a fumble.
- The rules have been amended to change the penalty for an erroneous challenge. When a coach throws a challenge flag for a play that either cannot be reviewed or is automatically reviewed, the team will lose a timeout. In the past, plays that had been challenged erroneously could not be reviewed – such as the case during last season's Thanksgiving game between Houston and Detroit.
- Taunting between players, including spiking or spinning the ball in the direction of another player, is a penalty.
Supervisor of officials Gary Slaughter spoke briefly following the presentation, and he clarified the running back rule, which has been the source of plenty of consternation among NFL fans.
"We're still allowing the runner to protect himself," Slaughter said. "We don't plan on getting out there and having a lot of flags on this. In fact, of all the plays from last year, only really a few fit that rule. [The runner] still has the ability to defend himself, if there's any angle involved going toward the sideline or outside the tackle box – running at an angle, that's not a foul either. And we certainly don't encourage the runner to run straight up and take the blow, either." [embedded_ad]
Slaughter also touched on the peel-back blocks, saying that any such situation would require the blocker to go across the body. He also added that officials will make a strong effort in 2013 to penalize the instigator during taunting situations.
"We're really making an effort, even more, to try and get the instigator –even if we see retaliation by somebody. You might see that this year," he said. "If a player has been picking, trying to get the guy to react, he finally does – even if he does, we're going to try to get the guy that caused it."