Here's What Steelers Owner Art Rooney II Said About NFL's New Rules

By Jason Hall

April 22, 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II shared his thoughts on the NFL's new rules implemented for the 2021 season.

The NFL Owners Meetings in March resulted in a new 17-game regular season schedule and the owners April session on Wednesday (April 21) resulted in several new rules changes that will go into effect next season.

The new rules include the following per ESPN:

  • Approved a relaxation of rules for the numbers allowed for certain positions.
  • Approved a one-year experiment to make recovering onside kicks easier, with the receiving limited to nine players within 25 yards of the ball.
  • Tabled a rule to expand the area where players are prohibited blocking below the waist.
  • Eliminated overtime in preseason games.
  • Changed a rule to enforce a loss of down if two passes are completed behind the line of scrimmage.
  • Approved a rule change to ensure the enforcement of all accepted penalties during successive try attempts.
  • Did not act on a "spot or choose" proposal from the Ravens for the winner of the overtime coin toss.
  • Decided to include taunting among its points of emphasis for 2021.
  • Tabled a proposal from the Buffalo Bills that would have pushed back interviews for general manager and head-coaching positions until after the championship round of the players, which would have prevented hires until after the Super Bowl.
  • Completed a study of the sharp drop in offensive holding during the 2020 season.
"Probably the most significant one was the one that didn't pass, which was the chop-block rule that we had some concerns about," Rooney said via "Our biggest concern with that was while you understand the reason for the rule because chop blocks can lead to lower body injuries, the concern we had was you're maybe trading one set of problems for another. This (rule) could have cornerbacks, smaller guys out on the field trying to defend themselves against 300-pound guards and tackles pulling around the end and trying to take on those blocks. If you're able to cut (the big guys) that gives (the little guys) a bit of a fighting chance against the bigger guy. It's really a question of big people against little people, and how do the little people defend themselves in situations in the open field. We just thought that rule needed to be studied a little more, and so that was tabled.
"We were in favor of eliminating overtime in preseason, so that is a good development. The most significant one (that passed) was Playing Rule Proposal No. 2, which is an effort to give at least a little more opportunity to recover an onside kick. This rule limits the number of guys the receiving team can put up in the box to nine. It's only passed for one year, and so we'll see if it makes any difference. But with some of the recent rules changes that had been made, the percentage of onside kicks recovered by the kicking team has really dropped. This is an effort to provide a little better opportunity for the kicking team to recover."

The Steelers were opposed to the proposal each time it was presented to ownership for a vote.

"Some of the comments we had were along the lines of 'just too much replay,' and I personally think we should do one or the other," Rooney said. "If we're going to bring the extra official in and make him the replay official in the stadium, I wouldn't have a problem with that, but then let's eliminate the replay in New York. I don't think we need both. It's really more of an administration question, in terms of where you're going to do the replays. Before we moved replay to Central Command (in New York), it was done in stadiums and the replay official was part of the officiating crew. I at least think there's some merit to that. With technology and all the camera angles available to us, it's really a question of what's the best way to do it, what's the best location for people to do the replays from. I don't think we need to have that many sets of eyes and that many decision-makers in the mix."

Photo: Getty Images

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