Additional Command Centre Official part of innovative package that has three main goals: accuracy, fewer penalties and player safety

TORONTO (March 10, 2016) – An additional Video Official in the Command Centre with a mandate to quickly fix obvious errors that are not challengeable by replay is one of the innovations recommended by the Canadian Football League’s Rules Committee.

“Right now in some situations, our fans have access to a better angle on a game broadcast than our officials may have at field level,” said Glen Johnson, the CFL’s Senior Vice-President, Football.

“By putting a knowledgeable official in communication with the officiating crew during the game, we would be able to quickly and seamlessly fix incorrect situations without disrupting the flow of the game.”

The video official would act as a kind of “eye in the sky”, with access to the feed from a special camera that would capture all 24 players on the field.

For example, when both the offense and defence jump into the neutral zone prior to the snap and four officials have flags, all with a slightly different perspective, the video official could look at a play in a few seconds and tell the Referee which team jumped first, speeding up the game and ensuring the right call is made.

The Video Official would break new ground in the world of professional sports in North America. It is just one of a series of innovative rule changes proposed today by the Rules Committee., which must still be approved by the league’s Board of Governors before they can go into effect.

Two years ago, the CFL became the first league to subject judgement calls to video review, when it allowed coaches to challenge defensive pass interference.

Now, the Rules Committee is recommending that offensive pass interference, illegal contact and illegal interference on pass plays also be reviewable.

In fact, it suggests expanding the list of reviewable penalties to include: no yards, illegal blocks on kick plays, contacting/roughing the kicker or passer, and illegal interference at the point of reception on kick off attempts.

It has also proposed adding unsuccessful two-point convert attempts to the list of plays that are automatically reviewed by the Replay Official.

The committee also continues to put a clear emphasis on player safety.

It proposes prohibiting players from pushing blockers through gaps in the offensive line on single point convert attempts and field goal attempts.

It also wants to expand the definition of a “peel back” block to make it illegal for any offensive player to block an opponent low anywhere on the field when he is moving towards his own goal line, not just those players that start the play in the Close Line Play Area, commonly referred to as the tackle box.

“Peel back blocks, although infrequent, are dangerous,” said Kevin McDonald, the CFL’s Vice-President of Football Operations and Player Safety.

“In order to improve player safety, we need to include other players that commit these types of blocks and expand the area in which these types of blocks are illegal.”

League Governors gave the Rules Committee a clear mandate to work to reduce the number of penalties being called each game. It is recommending modifying the standard for Illegal Procedure to now allow line players to move slightly, point, or make signals for blocking assignments while in a three-point stance before coming to a set position for one second prior to the snap. This change and others have the potential to eliminate 2 to 3 penalties per game.

Finally, the committee suggests several administrative or technical changes:

  • The concept of off-setting penalties would be created for some scenarios, such as when the defence is offside and the offense commits holding on the player who is offside, which would result in no yardage difference being applied and the down being replayed.
  • No longer allowing a team that gives up a field goal in the last three minutes of a game to choose to scrimmage the ball instead of receiving a kick off.
  • A player who gives an opponent’s offensive ball to a fan after a turnover is ruled on the field would no longer be flagged for objectionable conduct, which had been an unintended consequence of allowing offenses to use their own footballs.

The Rules Committee includes several CFL presidents, coaches and general managers as well as representatives of the CFL, CFL Players’ Association and CFL Officials Association.

“I want to thank the entire Rules Committee for its interesting proposals and thoughtful deliberations,” said Jeffrey L. Orridge, Commissioner of the CFL.

“It has consistently demonstrated a passion for innovation and a commitment to player safety. I know the Board of Governors looks forward to considering these ideas.”

The three-day CFL Combine presented by adidas, which gives elite Canadian prospects a chance to display their talents for CFL clubs,  starts tomorrow. The CFL Draft is May 10th. The CFL regular season kicks off Thursday, June 23rd when the Toronto Argonauts host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at their new home, BMO Field.

Paulo Senra

Director, Communications, Canadian Football League

Olivier Poulin

Manager, Communications, Canadian Football League

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