A sport that still can’t really decide what a catch is and already has a labyrinthine set of rules made some new ones, revealed Thursday on Twitter, which will be included in the 2016 edition of the NFL rulebook.
And you can thank your Green Bay Packers, specifically, for a couple of them.
First, players no longer can wear exposed hooded sweatshirts – or hoodies, to the kids – over their shoulder pads. Last season, during a Week 11 win over the Vikings, wide receiver James Jones played with a hoodie under his jersey, which, amazingly, did not violate the league’s prudishly punctilious uniform policy. Jones, who had caught a combined five passes for 89 yards over the previous four games, broke out with six receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota.
Several major news outlets wrote ostensibly genuine stories about the hoodie; others lampooned the inanity.
Regardless, Jones wore the hoodie for the season’s remaining eight games (counting playoffs), averaging 5.3 catches for 78.2 yards with it on, compared to 2.3 for 45.6 without it, and thus proving incontrovertibly that wearing the hoodie gave him a competitive advantage. Given the league’s severe opposition to all PEDs – including performance enhancing dress; sorry – and since it became an internet sensation that, in the NFL’s eyes, surely detracted from the integrity of the game, the hoodie simply had to be outlawed.
And now it is. The prohibition was apparently justified because the hood sometimes obscured the nameplate on the back of Jones’ jersey. Since it was a change of the uniform policy and not technically a new rule, the motion didn’t require a vote of owners.
So RIP, hoodie. And, for now, RIP, James Jones’ Green Bay career, as the veteran remains an unsigned free agent and the Packers are stocked with capable receivers. But while the hoodie’s proven results are indisputable, perhaps Jones, entering his 10th year and a bit of a plodder these days, would benefit from the reduced weight and drag of the extra apparel.
Another Packers-related incident from the 2015 season that directly resulted in a revision of the rulebook pertained to coin-tossing. Remember how, before overtime of Green Bay’s divisional playoff loss against Arizona – after Aaron Rodgers’ glorious Hail Marys to Jeff Janis had tied the game in regulation – referee Clete Blakeman flipped the coin but it didn’t actually flip?
Well, the rulebook didn’t stipulate what was supposed to be done in that situation, so Blakeman just decided to flip the coin again and apply the captain’s original call. On the second attempt, it rotated correctly. The NFL has now codified that procedure as the official course of action for both pregame and pre-overtime coin tosses, mandating the coin must turn over at least once in the air.
Since the rulebook allows for updates to the wording of existing rules without involvement by the Competition Committee, these new changes were more like regulations adjustments. Talk about expediency.
Just think if the NFL could have applied such urgency, coherence and responsiveness to deciding how to consistently adjudicate domestic violence cases involving its players. Or the inflation levels of footballs. But, hey, hoodies and coin tosses! Priorities.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.