Owners vote to increase uprights

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The NFL rules makers certainly had their eyes on the goalpost this week.

In addition to saying flags will now be thrown for players dunking a football over the crossbar to celebrate touchdowns, team owners voted to increase the uprights from 30 to 35 feet tall.

It was one of several rules changes approved on the final day of the NFL meetings. And while the league owners tabled the proposal to push extra-point attempts back to the 25-yard line -- it will be considered later -- they did agree to a two-game experiment in the first two full weeks of preseason, when extra-point attempts will be from the 20.

"We'll look at it in the first two weeks of the preseason to see if things come up," said St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, a co-chair of the league's competition committee. "The committee has historically been very careful to make changes like that. I think it's a positive thing as far as trying it is concerned."

Also Wednesday, the owners also voted to allow a clear fumble recovery even if a play had been blown dead, to keep the clock running after a sack, and a change to where defensive penalties behind the line of scrimmage will be enforced.

On Tuesday, the owners approved the use of a central command center as part of the NFL's replay system and approved a ban on "roll-up" blocks to the side of an opposing player's leg. The rule had previously banned only blocks to the backs of the legs.

The owners also tabled several items, including changes to the pass-interference rule, the use of fixed cameras on all boundary lines as part of the replay system, the elimination of overtime in the preseason and several bylaw proposals that deal with roster issues.

Proposals to move the kickoff to the 40-yard line as well as to allow the use of replay to review personal-foul penalties and on all penalties were voted down.

Fisher said the competition committee again affirmed its stance that sportsmanship and "on-field respect for each other and the game" was addressed with the owners. Officials will be told to throw flags for the use of the N-word and other slurs and to throw flags for taunting. Those recommendations don't require rule changes because they fall under the current unsportsmanlike conduct rule.

The NFL is responding to the NCAA's hopes that NFL players can serve as role models for college athletes, Fisher said.

"We have to bring the level of highest respect back to our game," Fisher said. " ... We're going to clean the game up on the field between the players, the in-your-face taunting, those types of things, the language.

"If the college athlete sees something on the weekends the pro athletes are doing, most of the time they're going to do the same thing."