In a vote on Wednesday, National Football League owners passed a rule change — put forth by the Kansas City Chiefs — that would allow players in certain positions to wear expanded ranges of numbers on their jerseys. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported the text of three rule changes that owners approved.
Here are the Chiefs', Rams', and Bears' rules proposals that were passed today by the league. Again, the OT modifications failed (though the rule eliminating preseason overtime passed). pic.twitter.com/UliXkBxsNk— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 21, 2021
Defensive backs will now be allowed to wear numbers from 1-49. Running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, H-backs and wide receivers will be allowed numbers from 1-49 and from 80-89. Both offensive and defensive linemen will be allowed 50-79 — while defensive linemen may also wear numbers from 90-99. Linebackers will be allowed 1-59 and 90-99.
This change is intended to help teams find unique numbers for every player on the roster — which is often a problem during the preseason — while still making it possible for officials to easily recognize eligible pass receivers. Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu has suggested that he might change his number from 32 to 21.
Other rule changes
The owners voted to approve a change to instant replay rules that will allow the replay assistant to consult with on-field officials on rulings about ball possession, whether passes were complete or incomplete and whether a ball carrier was down by contact — or crossed the goal line, first-down line, sideline or endline.
Also approved was a Competition Committee proposal that during onside kicks, a receiving team may have no more than nine players between 10 and 25 yards of the kickoff spot. It is hoped that this will increase the probability that onside kicks will be recovered by the kicking team.
Owners also voted to approve a new change put forward by the Los Angeles Rams that would add a loss of down to the penalty assessed for a second forward pass — or for a pass made after the ball comes back behind the line of scrimmage. Previously, such penalties only cost the offensive team five yards.
In addition, the owners accepted a proposal from the Chicago Bears that modifies the rules for penalties on successive extra-point tries. The revised rule will ensure that both penalties will be enforced.
While the owners did vote to eliminate overtime in preseason games, proposals that would have changed overtime rules were voted down. Some rule proposals — including a rule that would have given teams the option to attempt a fourth-and-15 play instead of an onside kick in order to maintain possession — never faced a vote after being tabled by the teams that put them forward.