NFL Rule Changes and Clarifications

2004 NFL Rule Changes and Clarifications
  • Instant replay was extended for five years and adjusted to give teams an extra challaenge if both previous challanges were successful.
  • "Flamboyant" celebrations will be penalized automatically for 15 yards.

2003 NFL Rule Changes and Clarifications
  • Officials will be largely kept together as a single crew during the playoffs. This is a change from past seasons when "all-star" officiating crews worked the post season. (Officials not meeting minimum number of games and post season games won't be in post season and Superbowl games, respectively.)

2002 NFL Rule Changes and Clarifications
  • Tiebreakers changed to list winning percentage in common games ahead of winning percentage in conference games.

2001 NFL Rule Changes and Clarifications
  • Instant replay renewed for three years with the same rules.
  • Fumble recoveries will be awarded at the spot of the recovery, not where the player's momentum carries him.
  • Protecting the passer will be emphasized even more.
  • Taunting rules will be tightened, with 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties flagged.
  • Bandannas and stocking caps are out, but skullcaps with the team colors and logos are OK.

2000 NFL Rule Changes and Clarifications
  • Instant replay renewed with the same rules. Some owners and coaches mentioned that replay might possibly be a permanent addition, especially if it goes well during 2000.
  • Celebrations limited to one player. Fines will be assessed for celebrations by two or more players.
  • Off-Field "Supervisory" titles elminated, preventing coaches from changing teams without becoming head coach, or "in cases where it's written into individual contracts."
  • Off-Field Consolidation of the sport's Internet presence into Teams would evenly split the proceeds.
  • In-Season Refinement Anyone wearing an eligible number (1-49 and 80-89) can play at quarterback without having to check in with the referee.

1999 NFL Rule Changes and Clarifications
  • Instant replay returns with a challange system. Coaches get two challenges per game. An unsuccesful challenge results in a lost timeout. In the last two minutes of the each half and overtime, a "replay official" in the booth determines if a challenge is issued. The on-field referee makes the decision, with a 90-second time limit on the review.
  • Clipping is now illegal around the line of scrimmage -- just as it is on the rest of the field.

1998 NFL Rule Changes and Clarifications
  • The coin toss will be called before the coin itself is tossed. This is a mid-season change.
  • Tinted visors are banned from players' facemasks except for medical need.
  • 12 Players in a Huddle -- a team will be penalized immediately for having Twelve players in a huddle -- even if the 12th player goes straight to the sideline as the huddle breaks.
  • Defense "Flinching" -- a defensive player can no longer flinch before the snap to draw movement from an offensive linemen.
  • Instant Replay was turned down again.

1997 NFL Rule Changes and Clarifications
  • Punts and Fake Punts -- when a team fakes a punt and throws the ball downfield, pass interference calls on the two outside defenders who are actually trying to block a coverage man from getting downfield -- and might not even know the ball has been thrown -- have been eliminated.
  • Removing Helmets on the Field During Play -- no player may remove his helmet while on the playing field. Doing so will result in a 15-yard Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty. Exceptions are during timeouts and between quarters. (The NFL has done this in an effort to "reduce taunting and overexuberant celebrations" and also "in the name of safety.")

1996 NFL Rule Changes and Clarifications
  • Instant replay will be tested during the preseason in the nationally televised games. Three sideline variations will be tested, with the on-field officials reviewing the play -- no pressbox official. Each head coach was given a red flag to throw to indicate he wanted the play reviewed (max two reviews per half). The only plays subject to review are:
    1. Scoring plays.
    2. Sideline/end zone plays.
    3. Number of players on the field.
  • The five-yard contact rule will be enforced more stringently.
  • Hits with the helmet or to the head by the defender will be flagged as personal fouls and subject to fines. This is being done to protect the offense, particularly the quarterback.

1995 NFL Rule Changes and Clarifications
  • There will be no instant replay. Previously there had been consideration in using instant replay for just the playoff games. A second proposal to allow teams three opportunities per game to challenge calls by officials was withdrawn from the vote.
  • The emergency (third) quarterback may now enter the game in just the fourth quarter, regardless if the other two quarterbacks are able to play. This means that if the third string quarterback enters the game, the first and/or second quarterback may re-enter, unlike the past two seasons where the emergency quarterback would only play off the first two were unable to resume play.
  • A receiver knocked out of bounds by a defensive player can now return to the field to make a play.
  • Quarterbacks may now receive communication from the bench via a small radio transmitter in their helmets. This proposal was originally run on a test basis last year during the pre-season, but was scrapped.

1994 NFL Rule Changes and Clarifications
  • There is now a 2-point conversion following touchdowns. Teams have the option of passing or running for two points or kicking for one after a TD.
  • The starting point of all kickoffs will be the kicking teams 30 yard line (moved back 5 yards).
  • Kickoff tees used can be no more than one inch in height (previously 3 inches)
  • A neutral zone infraction has been clarified. Officials are to immediately blow their whistles whenever a defender enters the neutral zone causing the offensive player(s) directly opposite to move. This is considered a penalty on the defense. If there is no immediate reactional movement by the offensive player(s), there is no foul. (The neutral zone is defined as the space the length of the ball between the offense and defense line of scrimmage.)
  • All field goals attempted and missed when the spot of the kick is beyond the 20 yard line, the defensive team taking possession will get the ball at the spot of the kick. On any field goal attempted and missed with the spot of the kick is on or inside the 20, the ball will go to the devensive team taking possession at the 20.
  • The 11 players on the receiving team are prohibited from blocking below the waist during a play in which there is a kickoff, safety kick, punt, field goal attempt, or extra point kick with one exception: Immediately at the snap on these plays those defenders on the line of scrimmage lined up on or inside the normal tight end position can block low.

Last Modifed: 04/24/2004
Football Site Owner: John Troan