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Ban on field goal leaps, automatic suspensions part of new NFL rule proposals

The NFL‘s competition committee is expected to propose a ban on defensive players leaping over the line of scrimmage on field goal and extra point attempts and a modification to the instant replay system by which rulings would be made by members of the league’s officiating department stationed in New York, according to a person familiar with the league’s inner workings.

The committee also is making plans to suggest automatic suspensions for players guilty of certain egregious illegal hits and intends to clarify and soften the sport’s rules regarding illegal celebrations, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the committee’s deliberations are ongoing and the league has made no official announcement.

The owners of the 32 NFL teams will consider proposals by the rule-making competition committee when they meet early next week at a Phoenix-area resort for the annual league meeting. Competition committee members are to announce their proposals later this week.

Last-minute changes are possible. The committee, for example, has been mulling either automatic ejections or mandatory suspensions for certain illegal hits. But the person with knowledge of the deliberations said it does not appear likely that automatic ejections will be proposed.

The ban on a player leaping over the line of scrimmage on a field goal or extra point was suggested by representatives of the NFL Players Association when they met with the competition committee at the NFL scouting combine. The tactic has become somewhat common as a means to block kicks and has resulted in some high-profile, closely scrutinized plays.

The prohibition would be a player-safety measure designed to protect both the player doing the leaping and any offensive player on whom he might land. Under current rules, such a leap is illegal if the player lands on an offensive player but legal if the player successfully clears the line of scrimmage.

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