On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of this week, representatives from the NFL's officiating ranks met with the New Orleans media and the New Orleans Saints to discuss the new rule changes and regulatory 'points of emphasis' for 2011.
Make the jump to see what they saw, read what they read, and hear what they heard...
According to neworleanssaints.com's Thursday story,
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.
First, they covered the new rules/changes, which are as follows:
*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 also dealt with 'player safety'-related points of emphasis that referees will be paying strict attention to this year:
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.
After spending time with the media on Thursday, the officials presented the same information to the players and coaches and other team officials, and also joined the team's practices on Thursday through Saturday, breaking into position groups to provide in-depth explanations to each group of the new rules/changes that apply to them.
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.
OK, you now have the new rules and changes all spelled out in front of you. What are your thoughts on them (like/dislike, agree/disagree, etc.)? Will they greatly impact the game as we know it? Will they negatively impact the Saints ability to win/maximize their skills, or help them in this regard? Like me, do you wonder what some of them actually mean?
See you in the comment section...