2009 National Football League Season - Rule Changes

Rule Changes

Several rule changes were passed at the league's annual owners meeting in Dana Point, California during the week of March 23.

The following rules were passed to improve player safety and reduce injuries:

  • A blindside block cannot be initially delivered by a helmet, forearm or shoulder to an opponent's head or neck.
  • The initial contact to the head of a defenseless receiver is also prohibited.
  • On kickoffs, a blocking wedge cannot consist of more than two players.
  • During onside kickoff attempts, the kicking team cannot have more than five players bunched together.
  • Clarified the 2006 rule about hitting passers below the knees; a defender knocked to the ground cannot lunge or dive at or below the passer's knees. This is unofficially referred to as the "Tom Brady Rule", after Brady was injured at the Patriots' 2008 opening game against the Kansas City Chiefs, when Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard hit Brady below the knees, sidelining him for the rest of the 2008 season.

The replay system will now be allowed to cover the following situations:

  • Whether a loose ball from a passer is definitely a fumble or an incomplete pass. This was passed in response to a play in the San Diego Chargers–Denver Broncos Week 2 regular season game where, in the final minutes, referee Ed Hochuli ruled that Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler threw an incomplete pass. Replays clearly showed it was a fumble, but the play was previously not reviewable.
  • Whether a loose ball actually hit the sideline. This change was passed in response to a play in the NFC Championship Game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Arizona Cardinals where a Cardinals kickoff was ruled to have gone out of bounds, but replays clearly showed it was recovered in bounds by Arizona.

Other new rules included:

  • If onside kick does not go 10 yards, goes out of bounds, or is touched illegally at anytime during the kick, the ball is immediately awarded to the receiving team. This amends a rule that was first implemented during the 2003 season. Previously, if the kicking team committed this foul before the final five minutes of the game, they had another chance to kick again from five yards back.
  • On all fumbles and laterals that go out of bounds, the clock will immediately start when the referee signals ready for play instead of waiting until next snap.
  • After the first pre-season game was played at the new Cowboys Stadium, with the Tennessee Titans' A. J. Trapasso's punt hitting the center-hung video display boards during the game, the league temporarily modified the rule regarding balls in play that strike an object such as a video board or a guy wire: in addition for the down being replayed, the game clock will also be reset to the time when the original play was snapped. This change currently only applies for this year, allowing the league to have the option of ordering the video displays to be raised for next season.
  • In November the United States Congress held hearings regarding NFL players on the field receiving concussions and other major injuries. Strong recommendations were made to the commissioner, and on December 2, 2009 NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo effective immediately stating, in part: "Once removed for the duration of a practice or game, the player should not be considered for return-to-football activities until he is fully asymptotic, both at rest and after exertion, has a normal neurological examination, normal neuropsychological testing, and has been cleared to return by both his team physician(s) and the independent neurological consultant." The old standard, established in 2007, said a player shouldn't be allowed to return to the same game if he lost consciousness.

Read more about this topic:  2009 National Football League Season

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Famous quotes containing the word rule:

    The condition that gives birth to a rule is not the same as the condition to which the rule gives birth.
    Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)

    Rules and particular inferences alike are justified by being brought into agreement with each other. A rule is amended if it yields an inference we are unwilling to accept; an inference is rejected if it violates a rule we are unwilling to amend. The process of justification is the delicate one of making mutual adjustments between rules and accepted inferences; and in the agreement achieved lies the only justification needed for either.
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