NFL rules changes: players must stand for National Anthem if on the field

ATLANTA, GA — As the Cowboys got busy on the field for some organized team activities (better known as OTA’s), the powers that be at the NFL were busy changing some rules for the upcoming season during their spring meeting in Atlanta.

And one of the changes that’ll be, by far, the most controversial – is the one they made when it comes to the National Anthem.

The new rule will allow players to stay in the locker room during the National Anthem – if they wish. But if they do come out onto the field they must stand. And if anyone is not standing – the team will be fined by the league.

“We want people to be respectful to the National Anthem. We want people to stand,” said Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner. “We have been very sensitive in making sure that we give players choices, but we do believe that that moment is an important moment.”

Coach Jason Garrett had this to say about the change: “We’ve always been very proud of the way our team has handled this situation.”

Most of the other new rules deal with kickoffs. Here are a few of the changes you can expect to see when the season starts.

  • The kickoff team must have five players on each side of the ball.
  • The kickoff team cannot line up more than a yard from the line of scrimmage – eliminating running starts.
  • No more wedge blocks.
  • The ball is dead for a touchback — if it touches any part of the end zone.

Another change deals directly with the use of the helmet. According to the NFL, if a player lowers his head to make first contact with his helmet that’s a penalty. These changes likely mean there will be fewer dangerous hits on kickoffs, which could limit head and neck injuries.

The times are changing in the NFL. Whether the fans change with it is yet to be seen.