Trash talking may soon be a thing of the past in the NFL. Or at least it will prove costly.
The league has issued a zero tolerance policy on verbal abuse directed at an opponent. League officials are currently visiting training camps to brief players and coaches on this and other new rules and several points of emphasis for the upcoming season. The Falcons received their visit Saturday night.
Teams are being informed that the use of abusive, threatening or insulting language directed toward an opponent, teammate, official or league representative is considered unsportsmanlike conduct. This includes racial slurs, comments regarding sexual orientation or other verbal abuse. The result will be a 15-yard penalty and potential discipline. Coaches, officials and other league personnel will be held to same standard.
In another change – and it’s a good thing Tony Gonzalez has retired - using the ball, pylon, crossbar, goalpost or anything other object as a prop as part of a demonstration is also unsportsmanlike conduct. No more spiking the ball over the goalpost following a touchdown.
* The game clock will no longer stop following a quarterback sack outside two minutes of either half. This includes a player who originally takes the snap being tackled behind the line of scrimmage.
* The referee will now be able to consult with senior members of officiating crew during an instant replay. In addition, the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play will now be reviewable. It includes fumbles, backward passes and kicks.
* As an experiment during Hall of Fame game and first two weeks of the preseason, the ball will be spotted at the 15-yard line for an extra point kick.
League officials are also informing players of several points of emphasis this season. These include:
* Contact between receivers and defensive players prior to a pass. Defenders cannot initiate contact with eligible receivers more than five yards from the line of scrimmage when the quarterback is in the pocket with the ball. The covering official will recognize the contact and look back to the quarterback. If he is in the pocket with the ball or in the process of releasing it, it will be a foul for illegal contact.
* The grabbing the jersey or any other part of the uniform prior to a pass is defensive holding regardless whether the official deems the grab impeded or restricted the receiver.
* Receivers can use their hands to ward off contact initiated by a defender but cannot push off to gain separation. Officials will pay particular attention to actions at the top of a route.
* Illegal hands to the face in close line play. It is a foul if direct and forcible contact is made to the head, neck or face of an opponent regardless if it pins the head back or is prolonged. This standard applies to both sides of the ball.
* Quick or abrupt movement by an offensive player or players in unison that simulates the start of a play is a foul. Such movements will result in a false start penalty regardless whether there is a defensive reaction.
* All players must recognize with an opponent is in a defenseless posture and avoid hitting or blocking them in the head or neck area or using the crown of the helmet to make contact with any part of the body.
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