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CFL’s rules committee recommends changes to league board of governors

A football with the new CFL logo sits on a chair during a press conference in Winnipeg, Nov. 27, 2015.\

John Woods/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The CFL's rules committee is recommending that coaches no longer be allowed to challenge illegal contact on a receiver this season.

It will also ask the league's board of governors to accept changes to blindside blocks, expand the definition of spearing and make it illegal for receivers to make low blocks. Darren Hackwood, the CFL's senior director of officiating, said the moves are all aimed at enhancing player safety and improving the flow of game.

"Our commissioner and board of governors have clearly mandated us to focus on promoting and protecting the health of our players," Hackwood said in a statement. "The rules committee has responded by recommending the board approve several measures that would broaden or clarify rules designed to improve safety for players."

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The committee is also asking that coaches can no longer challenge illegal contact on a receiver. It also wants the replay official to automatically review "potential touchdowns" – plays where it seems a TD has been scored but were marked down short of the goal-line.

Here's a look at some of the rule changes the committee is asking the board of governors to approve in time for the 2018 season. They include:

  • Making it illegal for players to forcibly block an opponent that’s moving back towards his own goal-line. This is referred to as a “blindside” block.
  • Outlawing low blocks that occur outside the tackle box, which is the area between the tight ends and from the quarterback or kicker to two yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
  • Broadening the definition of spearing to include any time when a player delivers a blow with his helmet as the initial or primary point of contact. This wouldn’t apply to a low-running ball carrier.
  • Eliminating a loophole in the sleeper play rule by making it illegal for a player entering a game remaining outside the numbers to receive the ball in any manner, including a kick or lateral.
  • Simplifying the rule on what constitutes a quarterback making a legal pass behind the line of scrimmage by defining it as the passer having at least one of his feet on or behind the line of scrimmage instead of requiring the release point of the ball be behind the line of scrimmage.
  • Eliminating the force out rule by requiring a receiver catching a ball to have at least one foot inbounds regardless of mid-air contact.
  • Increasing the penalty for pyramiding – a player using another to elevate himself to try and block a kick – from five to 10 yards.
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