First and 10

This week, the NFL made news during their annual owners’ meetings in Orlando by making some subtle changes to the rulebook. A tweak here and there, all of which are fairly good ideas, got everyone talking about how the game was adapting.

But in the end, none of the suggestions were revolutionary. None of them will cause much more than a minor bit of confusion early in the season as fans try to wrap their collective minds around the small adjustments.

There are, however, some rule changes that would make a big difference on the sport. There are some things that would go far beyond being just a tweak, which would improve the game immensely.

Here are 10 rule changes that the NFL should institute immediately:


10. Ban Kneeling at the End of the Game


The so-called “Victory Formation” should go away.

At any other time during a game, a player isn’t down when their knee touches the ground; they have to be touched by a defender before the whistle blows. But for some reason, quarterbacks are allowed to kill time in the waning seconds by simply taking a knee, sometimes burning two full minutes. Instead, the league should make teams run an actual football play; it’d add some drama and lead to better finishes.

9. Eliminate the Lambeau Leap (and Similar Celebrations)

Jordy Nelson Lambeau Leap

Why is this excessive celebration allowed?

If the league is going to make it illegal for a player to dunk the basketball over the goalposts when they score a touchdown, then they should prohibit any post-score celebration, especially one that doesn’t take place on the playing field. It’s the height of hypocrisy that the NFL continually talks about reducing taunts and minimizing celebrations, but the Lambeau Leap remains okay in the league’s eyes.


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  1. I cannot agree with you on any of these if you were the commissioner there would not be many football fans

    • Bob, you are the man and exactly correct! Whoever wrote this article is either a moron or has no football knowledge whatsoever.

    • Make up your mind. Is it the No Fun League or not, First you complain when a fun event is removed then you mention all of the fun plays that still remain, and then you turn around and suggest that other fun plays should be removed because a particular fun play was removed. If I sound confused, you are right, I am. You’re never satisfied, you just like to complain about something. Do you have to be a “negative Norman” to be a sports writer?.

    • Buck Stanton

      If there was a specific criticism, I’d address it and discuss it. Thanks for reading, Bob.

  2. First off, regarding QB kneels, your argument a player has to be touched down when their knee hits the ground does not apply to QBs. If a QB give himself up (ie kneels or slides feet first) they are down wherever their knee hits.

    All of your other proposed changes are absurd. You should just make a completely new rule book and pitch it to start a new league. Maybe contact some of the old XFL investors and I am sure they will agree with your rules changes.

    • Buck Stanton

      The fact that it only applies to QBs is the point. Treat them like everyone else. Apparently, you find kneel downs very entertaining? You’d be the first one. Thanks for reading, LAPP!

  3. Wow ! Really i could not disagree more on all points! I say let them play ball as we know it. why don’t we just find a new game for you to watch since you want to spend your Sundays watching commercials and reviews on every other play! Or may be we can just watch the highlights since the challenges etc … will consume 6 hours per game great idea not!

    • Buck Stanton

      If you think challenges will double the length of a game, then we aren’t really having a rationale conversation, are we? Thanks for reading, Eric!

      • Buck since there is a new word in the dictionary “rationale” I need a definition so I can follow your comment. As for the 6 hour exaggeration on my part thanks for pointing that out. As pointed out by myself and others in this conversation, it will extend the length of the game, and if in the stands say in December will cause more time exposed to the elements. Have you ever been in say Mile High waiting for a replay? No I do not believe so! Boring and cold!!! Would you like people to support football less keep it up. Thanks again for the new word and awaiting definition!

  4. One of the more absurd articles ever written. The only one of these that makes any sense is to eliminate the automatic first down on a 5 yard penalty. The rest is nonsense.

  5. Always someone, or a group trying to change things to their benefit, not the fans. Leave the game as is and quit tying to screw it up with changes all the time. It’s like trying to change our Constitution, NOT GONNA HAPPEN BUB!!!

  6. Stephen May

    Since they are raising the goalpost bar 5 ft, the anti dunking rule is probably a good safety rule.

    • They are not raising the height of the crossbar; that remains at 10 feet. They are increasing the height of the posts – from 30′ to 35′. There were several semi-controversial plays where it appeared as though a FG would have hit the crossbar had they been higher, leaving it up to the refs’ subjective judgement. I remember NE going ballistic about this. Yet another rule change because NE doesn’t like it – like the Tuck Rule and the Brady(/Palmer) Rule.

    • Anonymous

      Actually they are not raising the cross-bar. They are extending the height of the side posts.

    • Buck Stanton

      Finally, a clear-thinking fan who doesn’t see every idea as an attack on his favorite sport. Thanks for reading, Larry!

  7. marc rocket

    WHAT!! I’ve been talking about the knee issue for 5 years!. The difference I’ve proposed is that the QB HAS to hand off or pass the ball which has to touch another player. If the ball is not advanced or handed off there is a 5 yard penalty AND loss of down. How interesting would THAT make the end of the game??

    • Buck Stanton

      Great idea. I totally agree. The end of the game has been made very boring through kneel downs and the 40-second play clock. Anything to make for more great finishes is a great idea. I like yours. Thanks for reading, Marc!

  8. Whatchaschovelen

    While I am in favor of as safe a game possible for the players! I feel that you have never been to a December ball game in person, or ever. Flag-a-rama?While I’m not a Green Bay fan, I have to say the Lambeau leap, mile high salute, or football dunking over the cross bar is fine! Why in this day and time, do some people think a little celebration of a great play is taunting ? Wake up! Design a goal post that can handle the stress! I say put on your big boy pants and let them play ball! not one point in this article is agreeable, even the five and first down penalty change. It is a bad idea! penalties are for a reason people. action and result. Very poor article! I think your sports beat should be Tennis and leave Football alone.

    • Buck Stanton

      I think you’re having trouble seeing through your cheesehead. Thanks for reading, Whatchawhateveryournameis!

      • Wow Buck based on your response to his points you have no rebuttal? Well done Whatchaschovelen! Nice leap of faith that he is a cheese head Buck!

  9. I like the goal posts like arena football idea, and the overtime like college idea, and eliminate kickoffs idea. That is all I could support. Most people are naturally reluctant to change so itishard formost fans to support any of these.

    • Buck Stanton

      Liking 3 out of 10 is a very reasonable response. That’s fair. You have an open mind, so you’re someone worth having a conversation with about these and other topics. Thanks for reading, Ronald!

  10. how about implementing rule that no hair can interfere with players number or name on their jersey. Hair must be contained within the helmet. It’s getting out of hand!!!!

    • Buck Stanton

      Really? How many times has it impacted a play? Out of hand seems like a bit of an extreme comment. Thanks for reading, Cindy!

      • Buck I believe Cindy’s comment bares some thought on the player safety side more than just visually!

  11. The QB knee rule is pretty clear to me as to why it exists. It doesn’t make sense to force the QB to snap the ball, lay down on the ball, and wait for 3-5 275lbs+ men jump on him like it’s NFL Blitz…3-4 times.

    16 team bracket? That’s half the teams. You must be a Browns fan hoping that 6-10 teams will make the playoffs. Why stop at 16 teams? 32 team play off bracket, hockey style. Best of 7 each tier. That’s not overly ridiculous at all.

    I will say one thing. I’m not completely against the arena setup, but it would interest me more if it was 3 points through the 9ft, and 1pt if goes through the rectangles. But that’s more of a “That’d be kind of funny to watch but I’d probably be sick of it after a few games” type of idea.

    • Buck Stanton

      While we don’t agree on our ideas, I appreciate your well thought-out response. You take the time to refute and offer other ideas, which is commendable. Thanks for reading, Tim!

  12. If Buck was truly the believer that ‘statistics never lie’ as claimed, he would know that the team to win the coin toss in overtime does not win the game the majority of the time. At least profess what you claim to be, not another blowhard scuffling to put a top ten list together by filling in the holes with topcis you don’t really believe in.

    • Buck Stanton

      It’s more than 60 percent of the time. I’m not math whiz like you, but that seems like the majority, which makes your comment wrong. Thanks for reading, Jim!

      • Actually Buck the percentage of teams winning the over time coin toss, going on to win the game is 52.28% your right it is a majority however get your facts straight!

  13. Like the college overtime rule, would add make touchdown 7 points,, eliminate extra point and kickoffs from 25 yard line.

    • Buck Stanton

      All good suggestions. I have no problem with them. Certainly worth considering. Thanks for reading, Mike!

  14. scott baldock

    As soon as you can describe the correct type of ball to be dunked over the goalpost, you might be allowed to discuss eliminating the Lambeau Leap!!!

  15. Honestly, I had checked to see it was April 1st because I thought this was an April fools gag article. The first two were so ridiculous it sounded like something The Onion would write. Only later to find you were being serious. Mind. Blown.
    Nicely done, Sir.

  16. with their favorite team why not just stop selling tickets. There is no reason to stop these celebrations they don’t interfere with play. 7) Unlimited challenges? No increased to say maybe 5 sure, but to not allow anymore challenges if they get is wrong would end up screwing a lot of games. There’s been plenty of times when the refs don’t feel they have enough evidence to reserve a call even if everyone else thinks they do. 5) 16 team bracket? Why not just give everyone a participation trophy while we’re at it so no has any hurt feelings. If you’re team didn’t play well enough to make it to the playoffs than better luck next year. 4) same issue as 7. 2) So should every team just start at the 20? That would eliminate one of the most exciting plays in football just stop going to break during every change of possession. 1) The specialist are what make kick off and punts interesting if a team can’t stop a big return than that’s something the coach needs to fix not remove.

  17. bob graff

    I can think of 3 changes, There should be one rule that constitutes a catch[ 2 feet in with possession of the ball] 2nd a coach should be able to challenge anything with one miss per half, the ref should only have 90 sec to review a play[ keep the game moving]

  18. I really do not like any of these rules changes except for the automatic first downs. The only rule I would like to see changed is the spot foul on pass interference. To many teams are bailed out but a 25-40 yard pass thats gets flagged for interference and awarded that spot. Make it like college to 15 yards. Better yet. If they foul is inside 15 yards make it a spot and if its over 15 yards then default it back to 15 yards, making that the max amount you can be awarded. Keeps the wide recievers from trying to draw a flag for dumb reasons.

  19. Jeffrey Keating
    Due 4/1/14
    Sociological Perspective
    Professor Podhurst

    Response to: “Ten Rule Changes the NFL Should Make Immediately” by Buck Stanton

    Dear Buck Stanton,
    I find that some of your proposed rule changes are absolutely ridiculous. First and foremost, you have a problem with taking a knee at the end of a football game, to secure a win. To start off you said, “At any other time during a game, a player isn’t down when their knee touches the ground; they have to be touched by a defender before the whistle blows.” As a sports writer you should know very well that at anytime during a game, if a ball carrier “gives themselves up” by willingly falling to the ground, the play is blown dead, so the point became irrelevant. Secondly, you talk about how it would make it more exciting to remove the QB kneel from the game, yet later on in the article you proposed the idea to remove the kick off. What in the NFL is more exciting than a kickoff return for a touchdown? … Not many things Mr. Stanton. Furthermore, you say that removing the kickoff is dangerous, thus referring that you are trying to prevent injury. How can you prevent injury when you want to have more full contact plays, instead of a QB kneel? If teams can’t take a knee at the end of a game, get ready to see 2 or 3 halfback dives in a row… how exciting! On to the next topic, you think that the Lambeau Leap should be penalized now. You have got to be insane, to want to remove one of the most iconic moves in NFL history. Little kids, and football fans everywhere dream of being able to score a touchdown and jump into the stands. That is just one part of football I cannot see being gotten rid of. That would just be insane. Now, as for unlimited coaches’ challenges (if they are right) sounds like a good idea. Too bad coaches are wrong 60% of the time. Before suggesting such radical, and poor rule changes, do a little research of your own. I would have no problem with that rule if coaches were right the majority of the time, but unfortunately, they are not. Now, as for those penalties that always result in automatic first downs, they are a gray area. When it is 3rd and 18 like you said, and a receiver is running a crossing route, but gets held and draws a flag, who knows how much space and separation he could have gotten from the defense, running for maybe 18-plus yards. I understand this proposal more than the other, but I still think it is a little farfetched. Finally, you suggest that making the goal posts 9 feet wide, instead of the regulated 18.5 feet in the NFL, and 15 feet high, instead of the NFL posted 10 feet high, would benefit the game by making it harder to score “via kicking”. You suggest that it would put a “premium on kicking.” It kind of sounds like you would need someone who specializes in kicking. So you want to make kicking harder, AND later in the article you want to remove specialist positions, such as having someone who only kicks. You contradict yourself on numerous occasions in this article, and yes I am questioning your credibility. If you knew anything about what the fans want, you know they love high scoring games. Making it harder to score, will do nothing but repel interest from potentially new fans. Even if you think kicking is too easy now (maybe in domes that is true), try kicking a 45 yarder at Soldier Field in -5 degree weather, with the Chicago wind blowing from left to right, and tell me if you want skinnier goal posts. I would think not. In conclusion Mr. Stanton, this article was poorly written with what seems like very little research. Next time, do not contradict yourself and read up a little bit before you insult life long football fans with preposterous rule changes such as the ones that are suggested in your article.

    A Concerned Fan

  20. Jim Shuff

    I would like to see spiking the ball called the intentional grounding that it is. Why should this be treated any differently than a guy running around and not getting the ball past the line of scrimmage? I have hated that for as long as I can remember!

  21. rich faix

    the kneel down play should be eliminated ( the canadian football league has successfully eliminated it ) the rule,the offense must make an honest effort to advance the ball,if they don’t,the penalty would be loss of down,10 yd penalty and 30 seconds put back on the clock. or stiff penalties,similar to these.this would give both teams,more pure playing time,and more excitement for the would keep people watching at home,from switching channels or turning it off.