The NFL season opens up on Thursday night in New England, so get ready to have some fun.
Wait a minute. Are we talking about the NFL, here? Yep. We sure are. It’s time for fun to start sneaking back into the game. How? Well, let me talk about several ways.
First, the celebrations after touchdowns and changes of possession are back ... kind of. Players will be allowed to do things they were not allowed to do before. For example, it will be legal to have a group-choreographed celebration, or demonstration.
Second, you can go to the ground to actually celebrate. You were not allowed to go to the ground in the past unless it was to pray.
Third, you’re allowed to use a prop – as long as it’s the ball. You can’t use a pylon; you can’t use the goal post.
But the effort to inject fun back into the game doesn’t stop with the players.
One fewer television commercial break per quarter will mean more continuous live action. Instead of 20 in-game commercial breaks, there will be 16. And how about the advent of Fox’s six-second commercials? I dare you to try to get to the bathroom and back in six seconds so you don’t miss the action.
Everything is going to speed up. The referees are going to get the ball down quicker, so the clock can restart and action can resume at a faster pace. Play clocks will time the interval between the touchdown and the extra-point attempt. Teams will get 40 seconds to snap the ball, unless replay needs time to confirm the ruling on the field.
Replay will be quicker, too. Instead of going under the hood, the referee will watch the video on a tablet while awaiting the decision from New York. So, the whole process ought to be a little quicker. And with one fewer commercial break per quarter, networks will likely not go to commercial during replay reviews. When a quick decision is made, they can announce it and resume play.
The league’s goal is to remove some dead time from the game. Everybody will be hurrying and having a little fun, which is probably the way it ought to be.
By the way, I’m going to have some fun, too. Each week, here with The Bee, I will be answering questions from fans.
Enjoy Week 1.
Mike Pereira is a former vice president of officiating for the NFL and current rules analyst for Fox Sports who lives in Sacramento.