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By The Gopher
Published: March 27, 2008
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Potential Rule Changes

There are many potential rule changes being proposed recently. They range from the absurd (banning long hair) to the relevant (Adding instant replay for field goals). While the majority of these rules will not pass, I think it's important to look at the potential changes that could occur next season.

Banning Long Hair: One proposal would address the growing problem of players being tackled by their long flowing locks. The rule proposal would not force haircuts; instead it would force players to tuck their hair inside their helmet if it hangs low enough to block a player's name. I think this is an important safety issue, that appears to look like another example of the No Fun League. Players being tackled by their hair is very dangerous, and could cause injury. This rule would effectively stop this from happening. Enforcement of this rule will be interesting, for it will be possible for hair to fall out of a player's helmet during the course of the game. Perhaps a fine system will be implemented similar to how the NFL enforces the height of socks.

Modifying the "Force Out" rule on Sideline catches: A proposed rule will allow defenders to push receivers out of bounds, forcing them to land with both feet in bounds, and possession of the ball to have a play considered a catch. This change would not apply to situations where the player is carried out of bounds. This rule change strikes an old nerve for me, along with many other Viking fans, as this change would have negated Nate Poole's catch that secured an 18-17 victory as time expired in 2003 (which eliminated the Vikings from contention). I think this is another good proposal because it would eliminate the gray area that occurs on sideline grabs. This new rule would give defender's a slight advantage on sideline plays, but it would help even out the latest rules that have given wide receivers a leg up.

Adding Field Goals to Instant Replay: Currently field goals cannot be reviewed, and after a wacky field goal that went over the crossbar, and then bounced back out, the potential need for video replay was highlighted. While the field goal was called correctly during the game, there was a lot of potential for mistakes to be made. And in a league that routinely has games decided by a field goal, allowing a replay, that would likely be one of the shortest in terms of time needed to make the right call, would be a smart move to make sure the games are called accurately.

Adjustments to Playoff Seeding: A proposed rule change would give the top 2 teams according to record the #1 seed and #2 seed respectively. The wild Card round would not be seeded by division winners, but instead by overall record. The best six teams in each conference would make the playoffs, instead of the 4 division winners and 2 wild cards. This would reward the best teams in each conference, and would likely stop any possibility of an 8-8 team from reaching the playoffs. The downside of this proposal is that it would make the divisions irrelevant. It would also would make games in week 17 more relevant because teams would have more to lose by resting their starters.

Eliminating the 5 yard facemask: I'm not sure what the intended rule aims to do. My interpretation, would be to eliminate rushers from getting an extra 5 yards on an inadvertent facemask. I think this is a good rule, because if a player grabs a facemask, and impedes the runner or tackles him that way, it should be 15 yards regardless. But if a player just brushes the facemask, a 5 yard penalty is often unnecessary.

Tampering: a proposed rule would allow a 5-7 day period where teams can talk to pending free agents before they actually become free agents. I think this is also a good idea because it would allow players to weigh their options, and learn their market value so they can sign contracts that are their fair market value.

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