PHOENIX -- NFL owners formally banned players from leaping over the line of scrimmage to block kicks and approved a plan to centralize replay review decisions to the league office, highlighting a flurry of votes Tuesday at their annual meetings.
The league's competition committee joined players in expressing concerns about the safety risks of the leaping strategy that proliferated last season. Although it didn't happen in 2016, they feared a player could be flipped in the air by blockers as they rose from their stances and land awkwardly. The strategy will be expressly barred in the 2017 NFL rule book.
We are creative. We will find another way pic.twitter.com/p04yNBzDk5— Bobby Wagner (@Bwagz54) March 28, 2017
Teammate Kam Chancellor also tweeted of his disapproval:
The final say for replay decisions will rest with senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino or a member of his supervisory staff, all of whom watch games from a command center in New York. Referees will follow the conversation on a video tablet rather than using a sideline "hood" -- a move that, in reality, is a formalization of the process the league has used since the command center was established to aid referees in 2014.
Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler that estimates given to league owners showed that the new centralized replay system can save 1.5 minutes per game.
Owners completed the on-field portion of these meetings at midday Tuesday by clearing their list of playing proposals. A bid to shorten overtime from 15 to 10 minutes was tabled. Owners rejected a proposal by the Washington Redskins to place touchbacks at the 20-yard line if the ball went through the uprights after kickoffs. Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, a member of the competition committee, said he thought the idea was "gimmicky."
In other business Tuesday, the NFL:
• Approved a rule prohibiting teams from committing multiple fouls on the same play in an effort to manipulate the game clock, thwarting a strategy used last season by both the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.
• Made permanent a rule to automatically eject players from games after they commit two of a certain type of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
• Approved for one more season the experiment to put touchbacks at the 25-yard line after kickoffs.