Referee Clete Blakeman led a presentation today to present the new NFL rule changes to the New Orleans media. Blakeman first showed a video and then took questions with Umpire Garth DeFelice and Back Judge Terrance Miles. The officials will present the same information to the team tomorrow.
The video contained a detailed explanation and video demonstrations of the new rules. The new rules are:
*Surface of entire Field of Play must be a League-approved shade of green.
*Extension of half after a “5 vs. 15” penalty enforcement that includes a dead ball foul on the defense has been eliminated.
*On kickoffs, the kicking team restraining line has been moved to the 35-yard line and no kicking team player (except the kicker) can be lined up more than five yards behind its restraining line after the ball has been made ready for play.
*For a kickoff out of bounds, the receiving team may elect to take the ball 25 yards from the spot of the kick.
*Prohibits illegal “launching” into a defenseless opponent.
*Incorporates all rules regarding “defenseless players” into new article and standardizes their protection. Extends the protection for a receiver who had completed a catch so that he is a “defenseless player” until he has had time to protect himself or has clearly become a runner.
*Hits to the head of a passer by an opponent’s hands, arms, or other parts of the body will not be fouls unless they are forcible blows.
*Replay Official will initiate review of all scoring plays throughout the game. The Replay Official cannot initiate a review for a team, and a team is prevented from challenging a play, if that team commits a foul that prevents the next snap.
The video continued to announce points of emphasis, mainly centered on player safety. The focus will be placed on Illegal low blocks (Chop blocks and Clips), horse collar tackles, grabbing the facemask of a defensive player, and hitting defenseless players. Carl Johnson, VP of Officiating, stated in the video that all players and coaches will be held responsible for violations.
The group of officials will join the team for practice tonight and for the next two days. The goals of this visit is to give a presentation on the new rules and provide clarification on the old. The officials will also split into position groups to explain rules applicable to each position in extended depth.
Blakeman said that it is “nice to see snaps again” while citing the importance of the NFL pre-season to officials. He went on to say, “as important as it is for the players, it (preseason) is even more important to us.” The group stressed the importance of both watching live football before they enter the regular season and getting used to their crew. The trip will provide valuable explanation to the team while giving the officials the opportunity to see live snaps before the kickoff of the 2011 NFL season.