Galloway: Four potential NFL rule changes


Columnist Noah Galloway proposes rule changes that would make the NFL better and safer for players. 

Noah Galloway

It was the 2010 NFC Conference Championship game, and the Saints were playing the Vikings. The game went into overtime. The Saints won the coin toss. They promptly marched down the field and won the game with a field goal. This led to a rule change in which the opposing team who doesn’t win the coin toss will have one opportunity to tie or win the game if the first possession results in a field goal. 

Fast forward nine years, and Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady are going toe-to-toe at the end of regulation — matching each other in a thrilling showdown. These two offensive juggernauts made the defenses look pathetic. The Patriots ended up winning the coin toss, flying down the field and scoring a first possession touchdown. Considering how dominant both offenses looked, it’s fair to think Mahomes would have done the exact same thing if he had won the toss. Extra time ended without Mahomes getting the chance to touch the ball. I don’t have to explain how this is so unbelievably unfair. 

I find it amazing how it took this long to make the first rule change, and with the Mahomes and Brady game, it goes to show that the NFL still hasn’t done enough to remedy the issue. I know this is only one game, but we’re determining who goes to the Super Bowl, and whomever the better team is should be clear. 

The second rule change is the kickoff. The most likely outcome is a touchback, which is to say all these players came on the field and executed a play for no reason. Forbes mentioned that games involving special teams are very dangerous. A study published stated that in the 2015 and 2016 NFL seasons, 21 percent of all concussions occurred on kickoffs and punts. The number was approximately 109 out of 518 concussions in these years. This is an easy way for the NFL to reduce the harmful statistics indicating American football is very dangerous. 

The third rule change involves the massive penalty disparity between defensive and offensive pass interference. Currently, if an offensive player commits a pass interference act, the team receives a 10-yard penalty. On the flip side, if a defensive player performs pass interference, the ball moves to wherever the foul occurred and an automatic first down. This doesn’t make any sense because an offensive player could destroy the defensive player who is about to intercept the ball, and the severity of the penalty would be nearly as bad as if the defensive player made a similar play. 

Illegal hands to the face is another aspect of the rule book that could be changed. If a defensive player is called for this foul, the offense receives 5 yards and the first down. Considering a first down is 10 yards, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. If an offense is on third and 25 and they are awarded with this penalty, they automatically receive the first down despite having dug themselves in such a hole. This is something that could be easily fixed to make the rules reasonable. 

This is not an exhaustive list of potential edits to the rule book, but these are just a few I’ve felt need to be changed. I left out the definition of the completed catch because from the research, it seems unclear even the way the NFL website describes it. The Dez Bryant play always comes to mind when thinking about what it means to complete a pass. I would love to hear other ideas of potential rule changes for the NFL. The NFL should always be striving to make the game more fair and as entertaining as possible while reducing the risk of injury.