NFL commissioner Roger Goodell conducted a news conference at the league's annual meeting Tuesday at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
March 29 (UPI) -- NFL owners approved several rule changes at the annual league meeting, clearing a path for No. 0 uniforms, play clock adjustments, and various other in-game and transaction-based modifications for 2023.
But the most obvious change for fans watching games most likely will be the No. 0 on jerseys next season.
Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley was the first player to announce that he will wear the number. Other NFL players, including Dallas Cowboys pass rusher Micah Parsons, tweeted that they were fans of the jersey number.
The league announced the changes Tuesday after owners met in Phoenix.
Team owners opted to delay a decision on a rule that would allow the league to change specific Sunday games to be played Thursday as part of flex scheduling. That proposed change generated criticism from players, owners and fans.
"We had three days of really productive discussions," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at a news conference inside a ballroom at the Arizona Biltmore.
"The theme goes back to what we shared with ownership in the initial sessions; which is the important position we are in now and the ability to focus on meeting our challenges, but also taking advantage of our opportunities because of the stability we have and because of where our game is."
Owners agreed to change an existing rule, which would allow some teams to play a maximum of two games on a short week. That change could lead to some teams participating in two consecutive Thursday night games, while others would not have any Thursday games.
"There isn't anybody in that room, anybody in any of our organizations who don't put our fans first," Goodell said. "That's really important. Obviously, providing the best matchups for our fans is part of what we do.
"That's a part of what I think our scheduling has always focused on. And flex has been a part of that. We are very judicious with it, and we are very careful with it. And we look at all of the impacts to that."
Fans, NFL players and team owners cited player safety concerns, as well as considerations for fans, among other issues as their reasons for disapproval of the potential schedule changes.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes posted an image of a facepalm on Twitter in reaction to the potential flex-schedule alternation.
"Flexible scheduling as it is, is really inconsiderate to our season ticket holders and to people who will fill our stadiums every week," New York Giants owner John Mara told reporters. "People have gotten used to going from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night. That doesn't mean they like it."
Owners also approved a rule amendment proposed by the Los Angeles Chargers, which will allow referees to adjust the play clock after an instant replay reversal, as they do for other stoppages.
Replay officials can now automatically review close plays on fourth-down conversion failures. Owners approved clarity for launching, which results in a 15-yard penalty.
Players now will be called for the personal foul if they leave one or both feet to make a tackle. Tripping will become a personal foul and a 15-yard penalty.
Handing the ball forward during a handoff will be penalized the same way as an illegal forward pass. Players must be next to or behind the quarterback to receive a handoff, or they will be penalized with loss of down.
Clarifications were made to the rule that allows offenses to benefit from an untimed, additional down if they commit an offensive penalty at the end of a half.
Owners also voted to remove the language "butt, ram and spear" from rules that clarify penalties for impermissible use of the helmet.
Bylaw clarification changes approved by owners will allow teams to add waived players to their rosters earlier in the week, for strength of victory to be the second tiebreaker for playoff seeding and a new deadline for teams to finalize playoff rosters.
Teams will be allowed to make playoff roster alterations at the last minute, as they do in the regular season, due to changes to the transaction deadline. Another resolution will require teams to provide more detail about player availability before games.
NFL teams will operate with just one roster-reduction deadline in the preseason, according to another rule change. And they will be required to cut rosters from 90 to 53 players by one specific date, instead of multiple deadlines to gradually lower rosters.
Owners did not approve a proposed rule change to allow reviews for roughing the passer penalties, an option to allow teams to go for a first down on 4th-and-20 -- instead of an onside kick -- after a score, or the ability for teams to use a third quarterback roster spot on game day.
The league's annual meeting will end Wednesday. Teams that hired new head coaches can start their off-season workout programs Monday. The 2023 NFL Draft will be held from April 27 to 29 in Kansas City, Mo.