NFL clubs approved a number of playing rule changes for the 2017 season on Tuesday while at the annual league meetings in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Seahawks' one proposed rule change — a joint proposal with the Buffalo Bills that would have allowed a coach to challenge any officials' decision except scoring plays and turnovers — was voted down. But another proposed change that is likely of interest to Seattle players was approved.
The "leaper" block attempt on field goal and extra point plays is now prohibited, which will put an end to what Seattle fans saw out of linebacker Bobby Wagner last season, when he hurdled the line of scrimmage to successfully block a kick against the Arizona Cardinals, and strong safety Kam Chancellor, who attempted back-to-back "leaping" blocks in a playoff game against the Carolina Panthers two seasons ago.
"The jumping over on the field goal, I think, is just leading to a really dangerous play for everybody," NFL Players Association president Eric Winston said earlier this offseason. "If you jump over the center, the jumper is in a really bad spot. He can land on his head. I think the guys that are getting jumped over are going to end up getting hurt, with those guys landing on them. So I'll be very interested to see what they'll do there. I think something probably needs to be done."
The "leaping" rule change, which was proposed by the NFLPA, is part of continued efforts to improve player safety.
"The examples that they showed us were the really bad examples," Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday morning at the league meeting. "They didn't show us how pretty it is when the guy leaps over with great body control and makes the play and all. Guys were landing on their head and falling all over each other. It was a mess when you looked at it. So we really, I couldn't vote against it the way it was going because they really did have examples that looked dangerous and it didn't look like what we looked like at all. I'm kind of disappointed they didn't show our clips, but I understand why they didn't. It wouldn't have sent the message for what they were trying to get done."
The NFL also made last year's introduction of a player being ejected for committing two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls in a single game a permanent rule, will give defenseless player protection to receivers running pass routes, and made changes to the way certain crackback blocks are officiated.
Approved 2017 Playing Rules Proposals
By Philadelphia;Prohibits the "leaper" block attempt on field goal and extra point plays. (Final language will be available on NFLCommunications.com)
By Competition Committee;Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
By Competition Committee; Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only.
By Competition Committee; Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection.
By Competition Committee;Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.
By Competition Committee;Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews.
By Competition Committee;Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.
By Competition Committee;Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.
Approved 2017 Bylaw Proposals
By Competition Committee;Liberalizes rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club's facility for one year only.
By Competition Committee; Changes the procedures for returning a player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness to the Active List to be similar to those for returning a player that was Designated for Return.
By Competition Committee; The League office will transmit a Personnel Notice to clubs on Sundays during training camp and preseason.
Approved 2017 Resolution Proposal
By Competition Committee: Permits a contract or non-contract non-football employee to interview with and be hired by another club during the playing season, provided the employer club has consented.