NFL relaxing touchdown celebration rules for players

Kevin Patra
Around the NFL writer

REPLAYEvolution of the celebration00:00/02:56
The NFL is putting the fun back in football.

On Tuesday, the league announced it will relax rules on celebrations.

Bring on the fade-away jumpers, snow angels, and group dances.

In a letter to fans from Commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL said it wants to allow players "more room to have fun after they make big plays."

REPLAY5 BEST celebrations of 2016 | Celebration Station00:00/03:51
Goodell spoke with more than 80 current and former NFL players about relaxing the rules on celebrations.

"We know that you love the spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown," the Commissioner said in the letter. "And players have told us they want more freedom to be able to express themselves and celebrate their athletic achievements."

Examples of celebrations to be allowed under the new guidelines:

»Using the football as a prop after a touchdown
»Celebrating on the ground
»Group demonstrations

The relaxed rules aren't a free for all. Offensive demonstrations, celebrations that are prolonged and delay the game, and celebrations directed at an opponent, will still be penalized, the letter said, in order continue "sportsmanship, clean competition, and setting good examples for young athletes."

In short, three-pump twerking is still a no-go.

The decision to let players celebrate more freely is a long-awaited relief for players and fans alike. Commence the creativity.

NFL owners approve shortening overtime to 10 minutes
Around The NFL staff

Shorter overtimes are among the changes that will be coming to NFL games in 2017.

NFL team owners approved shortening overtime in the preseason and regular season from 15 to 10 minutes at the Spring League Meeting in Chicago on Tuesday, a league official told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. The approval comes after the proposal was initially presented to owners during the Annual League Meeting in March.

As NFL Network's Judy Battista pointed out, the rule change is aimed at improving player safety. There have been concerns about the number of additional plays teams undergo while playing a full 15-minute overtime period, especially when one of the teams is subject to playing its next game on a short week.

Some teams were initially concerned the condensed time period would limit their ability to control the ball during the extra frame, but it appears those worries have eased, at least for now.

Although the idea of a 10-minute overtime has been a polarizing issue, the change shouldn't lead to a significant increase in tie scores. According to NFL Research, there have been 83 overtime games over the last five seasons, 22 of them lasting at least 10 minutes into overtime (the average time elapsed in overtime in the last five years is 7 minutes, 43 seconds). There have been five games that ended in a tie in those five seasons, an average of one per year. If overtime had ended after 10 minutes, there would have been 16 total ties, for an average of 3.2 times over a 512-game season.

The move to shorter overtimes is just one of the changes that have been approved for the 2017 season. At the Annual League Meeting, team owners banned leaping over the line to block kicks and approved automatic ejections for egregious hits to the head. In addition, team owners approved a centralized replay to give the NFL's New York officiating command center the final say on reviewed calls.

Other changes for 2017 approved by team owners at the Spring League Meeting:

1. The NFL will no longer penalize most player celebrations. In a letter to fans, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote the league is "relaxing rules on celebrations to allow players more room to have a fun after the make big plays."

NFL owners eliminate first roster cut-down period

Conor Orr
Around The NFL Writer

In a move that improves chances for roster longshots but also intensifies a frantic, end-of-preseason period for head coaches and general managers, NFL owners on Tuesday voted to eliminate the first cut-down period forcing teams to trim their roster to 75 before the final preseason game.

Now, there will be one cut down following the preseason, from a 90-man roster to a 53-man.

The news, reported by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, essentially gives 480 players (15 per team) the chance to remain on the roster for one final audition. Already desperate for more film, the league's bottom-of-the-roster players should consider the decision a major victory.

Alongside a second injured reserve return player and adjustments to overtime, this addendum highlights a very busy May for NFL decision makers.

For those who have long adored the reality TV show Hard Knocks, both cut down days have become a staple of the league calendar -- a time of extreme highs and lows for players looking to hang on and coaches searching for hidden gems on other rosters.

Trimming 37 players at once will make for some enjoyable, organized chaos.

Before both roster cut-down days, many general managers have already compiled a list of players on other teams likely to be released and potential scenarios where they could add key pieces. Under the new rules, they will have to be quick-footed, as the market will be flooded with an influx of potential talent all at once.

On the bright side for coaches, they will not have to strip their rosters before the fourth preseason game -- often a week where teams simply hope to avoid any major injuries. As time wears on in that final game, they could give themselves one more live look at a player battling for a final spot on the season roster.

As Rapoport noted, this change has long been championed by the Washington Redskins; a sensible, win-win situation at a time when practice opportunities are already so precious