A Month of Sports News in Review

It’s been just under a month since my last column so I’d like to acknowledge some of the major events that have occurred in the sports world in the last few weeks:

  • The Rams are building a dream team.
  • The 76ers have won a franchise record 14 straight games, including a 132-130 win over LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster has played a lot of Fortnite, including a record-breaking Twitch stream on March 15 when he played with Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Drake and Travis Scott – for you old folks that’s a professional gamer and two rappers.
  • Villanova made its opponents look like intramural teams en route to the 2018 NCAA men’s basketball championship.
  • Patrick Reed won the Masters, and he listens to Imagine Dragons as hype music.
  • LeBron James and Nick Saban are feuding over copyright claims – yes, the best player in the NBA and the best college football coach are arguing over Barbershop videos (whoever is controlling this Sims universe please do not let me go bald).

Okay now that we’re all caught up I’d like to focus in on one more event that happened in the past month – the NFL finalized its rules changes for the 2018-2019 season and there are some modifications that will deeply impact the game.

NFL Owners approved a total of 24 new changes to the game which consists of 11 rules affecting in-game play, 12 bylaws and one resolution. As usual, a majority of the changes are minor, but some will have a big influence on the league, and two will have major implications on the game. Here’s my unprofessional review/breakdown of some of the more significant changes:

“By Competition Committee; Amends Article XVII, Section 17.16 to permit clubs to trade players from Reserve/Injured.” – Pretty simple change, but it has the potential to have a big impact. Teams can now trade players on the injured reserve list, and those players would be eligible to return to play with their new teams, if they choose to designate them on the eligible to return list.

“By Minnesota; Amends Article XVIII, Section 18.1 to replace the 10-day postseason claiming period with a 24-hour period.” – Player waived during the postseason previously had to wait 10 days before they could be claimed by teams, now they only have to wait 24 hours.

“By Competition Committee; Eliminates the requirement that a team who scores a winning touchdown at the end of regulation of a game to kick the extra point or go for two-point conversion.” – Courtesy of the Minneapolis Miracle. Now when a team takes the lead with no time left, they don’t have to awkwardly line up for a pointless extra point play.

“By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the playing rule that changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line.” – Another simple one. This rule has been in place for the last two years as an experimental change and now it’s being finalized. But its significance is that it’s a step in the direction of getting rid of kickoffs, which are statistically one of the most dangerous plays in football.

“By Competition Committee; Authorizes the designated member of the Officiating department to instruct on-field game officials to disqualify a player for a flagrant nonfootball act when a foul for that act is called on the field.” – Gone are the days of screaming at your TV because an official missed a dirty play that would have resulted in a player getting ejected. Now the designated official who is watching the TV broadcast can tell the on-field officials to eject a player over radio. What could possibly go wrong?

“​By Competition Committee; Changes standard for a catch.” – The controversial catch saga continues. Essentially they changed the wording of what signifies a catch in order to try and make things simpler.  It’s a three-step process: A receiver must secure the ball, establish themselves in-bounds and they have to initiate a “football move” such as a third step, turning upfield or extending the ball over the goal line. The hope is to make a catch more objective, but realistically it’s just shifting the debate to what is deemed a football move. For the record, Dez caught it.

“By Competition Committee; Lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet is a foul.” – This is huge, we’re talking big league. This is a rule change that aims to change the way football is played universally, not just in the NFL. If a player lowers his head to initiate contact it will be a 15-yard penalty and the player could potentially be ejected. The hope is to recondition players to not lower their heads during contact, which in theory should help prevent many head, neck and back injuries. However, the rule proposal was not expected, so it was somewhat rushed and will probably lead to mass confusion this year because the language of the rule is so ambiguous.

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