New Rule Draws Criticism from NFL Players, Coaches, and Commentators

New Rule Draws Criticism from NFL Players, Coaches, and Commentators

New Rule Draws Criticism from NFL Players, Coaches, and Commentators

It is not often that a preseason NFL game sparks a nationwide controversy, but that is exactly what happened when an illegal snap by Indianapolis Quarterback Peyton Manning was called in the team’s preseason game against Green Bay.  The penalty was issued based on a new rule the league put into effect over the offseason to help better protect the officials calling the game.

After a rash of injuries to umpires over the past few years, the NFL decided that instead of umpires lining up amongst the linebackers, they would be safer lining up behind the running back.  One of the consequences of that rule is that the umpire must be behind the running back before a ball can be snapped.  Umpires are traditionally the ones who spot the ball at the line of scrimmage before a play can happen.  For a team like the Colts, who run a no-huddle offense, the additional time it takes for the umpires to get behind the running back could be damaging.

The penalty in question was called because Manning snapped the ball before the official had positioned himself behind the running back.  The call brought complaints from a number of people, including Manning and the ESPN broadcast booth as they called the game.

The NFL has made it clear that the rule is here to stay, at least for this season.  Commissioner Roger Goodell proposed the rule to benefit the safety for the umpires after concussions and surgeries took a toll on the referees over the past few years. 

There is no rule that the umpire has to be the official to spot the ball, and the NFL has made the crews aware of that fact.  As the season goes on, and the controversies over the rule continue to mount, expect an official other than the umpire to be charged with the spotting of the ball.


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