New rules, with player health and safety remaining a priority, see some key changes for the 2017 season which began last night.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Makes permanent the rule that automatically disqualifies a player that is penalized twice in the same game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. These types of fouls include:
Throwing a punch or kick without making contact
Use of abusive or threatening language
Any act that constitutes taunting
It is now an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.
Replay Reviews: All sideline replay monitors will be replaced with a hand-held device and designated members of the NFL Officiating department will be authorized to make the final decision on replay reviews from the NFL league office.
Leaping: Prohibits a player who is off the line of scrimmage from running and jumping over offensive lineman on the line of scrimmage in an attempt to block a FG or PAT attempt.
Touchbacks: For the 2017 season, after a touchback resulting from a kickoff or safety kick, the ball will be placed at the receiving team’s 25-yard line. The rule, which was also used in 2016, was approved on a one-year basis for 2017.
Crackback Blocks: Prohibits crackback blocks by a backfield player in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.
Defenseless Receiver Protection: Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection when the defender approaches him from behind or the side.
Overtime: The length of preseason and regular season overtime periods is reduced from 15 minutes to 10 minutes.
Clock Stoppages: All illegal acts to conserve time are not permitted after the two-minute warning of either half. The previous rule applied inside of one minute of either half.
Additionally, after conversations with more than 80 current and former players, Commissioner Goodell announced in May that the league will relax its rules on touchdown celebrations to allow players more room to express themselves.