NFL approves rule change on jersey number, nixes shifts to overtime format
Some notable NFL players could be changing their numbers, with a lot more single-digit outfits potentially in demand.
On Wednesday, team owners approved a rule change allowing for players at a number of positions to wear a wider range of uniform numbers.
Running backs, wide receivers and tight ends will be allowed to wear any number from 1-49 and 80-89. Defensive backs also will now be allowed to wear 1-49, and linebackers are permitted to wear 1-59 and 90-99.
Several big-name players, including Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James, have already voiced interest in changing their numbers.
“Frankly, the players themselves like having the options,” NFL executive president of football operations Troy Vincent said in a conference call after the owners’ vote. “I know it is not what we are accustomed to seeing, someone on the line wearing a single digit, but I think it is fun.”
While owners approved a proposal to eliminate overtime in preseason games, they shot down two variations of “spot-and-choose” formats for an extra period, in which one team would choose the spot of the ball and the other would decide whether to be on offense or defense.
The Philadelphia Eagles also tabled a proposal that would have allowed teams twice per game to attempt to retain the ball after a score by trying to convert a fourth-and-15 play rather than recover an onside kick.
“I do believe there is some merit, maybe not the fourth-and-15, but the fans want to see the stars with the ball in their hands,” Vincent said. “I think there is something there with that option for the club to be able to get back into the game when down two scores … that could be something I see happening in the future. That is good for the player and it is also good for those watching the game.”
The other proposals that were approved:
• Establish a maximum number of players in the “setup zone” on onside kicks on a one-year trial basis.
• Permit replay officials and designated members of NFL officiating department to provide objective information to on-field officials.
• Ensure enforcement of all accepted penalties committed by either team during successive try attempts.
• Loss of down in addition to a 5-yard loss on illegal forward pass.