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Expanded Video Review, Improved Health and Safety, Faster Game All on the Table

March 18, 2014 - Canadian Football League (CFL)

TORONTO -- The Canadian Football League is considering making pass interference subject to video review as part of a significant review of its rule book, the league revealed today.

Under a proposal to be voted on Thursday evening by the league's Rules Committee, coaches would be allowed to challenge both called and potential defensive pass interference fouls under certain conditions.

If it passes, the CFL could become the first football league to subject pass interference to video review.

"This is more than innovative. In the world of officiating, for all sports, it's revolutionary," said Glenn Johnson, the CFL's Vice-President of Officiating.

"Leagues have been reluctant to subject 'judgment calls' to video review, and pass interference in football is the ultimate 'judgment call", because it involves so many subjective elements. It will be interesting to see if the Committee approves it, and whether our Board of Governors, which is our ultimate authority on rules, also ratifies it."

Under the proposal, a team would be able use any and all of its Coaches' Challenges to challenge a called or potential pass interference foul up to the final three minutes of a game. In the final three minutes of a game, and overtime, a team could only challenge such a call or non-call one time, and only if it still has an unused challenge and a timeout remaining.

The Committee is also considering expanding the role of the Command Centre by requiring it to automatically review all turnovers (fumbles lost and interceptions) and allowing it to detect illegal participation during a play (when a player returns to the field after voluntarily leaving it).

The Rules Committee is also reviewing several changes aimed at further strengthening the health and safety of CFL players:

- Eliminating low blocks below the waist, other than those delivered to the front plane of a player.

- Eliminating blocks from behind in the area between the offensive tackles and within two yards of either side of the line of scrimmage.

- Outlawing peel back blocks, which occur when a play changes direction in the backfield, forcing the defender to modify his pursuit, making him susceptible to blind low blocks executed by an offensive player moving toward his own end zone.

- Clarifying the rules that make it illegal to "deliver a blow" to an opponent above the shoulders, a standard already followed by officials but not yet codified in the rule book.

- Requiring an injured player to leave the field regardless of whether a penalty was called on the action leading to the injury (players currently have the option to stay in the game if a penalty was called on the play.)

The Committee is considering other changes designed to promote scoring and improve the flow of the game:

- Allowing quarterbacks for each team to use their own team supplied Wilson footballs, provided they have met the "new ball" quality standard established by the league.

- Allowing centres to bob their heads multiple times in an effort to signal timing of the snap of the ball (to be used by visiting teams coping with noise in stadium).

- Allowing offenses to further dictate the pace of play by no longer requiring the Head Referee to hold the 20 second clock for the defense to substitute.

The CFL Rules Committee is also expected to review proposed editorial changes to statistical scoring rules including one which would make blocked field goals count as missed field goals for the purpose of record keeping.

The committee is made up of a combination of club presidents, head coaches, general managers and representatives from the officials' association and the players' association.

Its members vote on the proposed rules changes here on Thursday evening. That 's the eve of this weekend's CFL Combine presented by Reebok, which showcases top Canadian prospects for the CFL Canadian Draft, scheduled for May 13.

Any changes the Rules Committee proposes are subject to final review and approval by the league's Board of Governors.

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Canadian Football League Stories from March 18, 2014


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