NFL spring meetings recap – new rules, new policies

The NFL owners got together this week in Atlanta to go over a couple of proposed rule changes and to approve the locations of next year’s NFL Draft and future Super Bowls. There are many things to take away from the meetings, but if you missed it here are the high points.

New Kickoff Rules

The diagram shows the high points of the new kickoff rules, but essentially the rules lessens the distance between the blockers and tacklers making it more like a punt. The ball will still be kicked off the tee like normal, but at least 8 of the blockers have to run with the ball. Before, teams would only put 4-5 people up near the ball.

Also, kickoff teams would stack certain sides with more people to try and get an advantage, but now players have to be spread out evenly and they can’t get a running start. Wedge blocks (double teams) have also been eliminated are are illegal.

New Targeting Rules

Targeting has been a big part of college football for the last few years and the NFL is jumping on board with the way it is handled in college. In March, a rule was passed that officials could make ejections after watching replays, and now, the opposite is true as officials can also undo an ejection after watching the replay. Targeting results in an immediate ejection in college football, but the officials can review the play and determine whether or not they should be ejected for targeting.

New National Anthem Policy

The owners passed a new policy for the national anthem that they are calling a “compromise” between the way it’s been handled in recent years. Now, players can stay in the locker room if they desire, but if they come out to the field during the anthem, then they are required to stand. If a player does not stand on the field during the anthem, teams will be fined and the teams have the option to fine the player who is not standing. Here are the actual guidelines:

1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

2. The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem.

3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed.

4. A club will be fined by the league if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.

6. The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and Anthem.

31 of the 32 owners voted for the change, except the 49ers’ Jed York who abstained.

The NFLPA responded to the new policy saying, “The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy.’ NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about. The vote by NFL club CEO’s today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League. Our union will review the new “policy” and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”

Some front office members, including New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson, have disagreed with the policy saying that players on their team can protest without fear of punishment.

Approval of Carolina Sale

The owners approved the sale of the Carolina Panthers to David Tepper. Tepper was a minority owner in the Pittsburgh Steelers, but is paying a record amoung of $2.275 billion to purchase the Panthers from Jerry Richardson. It is the highest amount ever that someone has paid for a pro sports franchise.

The contracts still need to be signed, but when Tepper only needed 24 votes of approval, he got all 32.

2019 Draft Site Announced

The NFL announced that Nashville had been awarded the 2019 NFL Draft. The home of the Titans beat out Denver, Cleveland/Canton, Kansas City and Las Vegas.

The league did not name a 2020 host, however, with the other four cities being the candidates to land that draft. 2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the NFL and it was founded in 1920 in Canton which is the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Super Bowl 57, 58 Locations Announced

The NFL already had the next four years set, but added in locations for Super Bowl LVII and LVIII after approving the locations this week. Cities no longer have to submit bids for the Super Bowl, but rather the league will offer the host duties to a city.

Super Bowl LVII will be played in Glendale, Arizona and Super Bowl LVIII will be played in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Here are the future dates we know:

2019: Atlanta, GA
2020: Miami, FL
2021: Tampa, FL
2022: Los Angeles, CA
2023: Glendale, AZ
2024: New Orleans, LA