Report: NFL To Consider ‘NaVorro Bowman Rule’ On Review Of Loose Ball Recoveries


Jan 19, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) forces a fumble by Seattle Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse (15) during the second half of the 2013 NFC Championship football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report, one of the 13 new rule proposals the NFL Competition Committee had proposed would change the rules about what plays can be reviewed and what cannot be reviewed to include making the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play subject to review.

The so-called “NaVorro Bowman rule” has been proposed after a controversial call in the NFC Championship during which San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman clearly stripped the ball from Seattle Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse and recovered the fumble on the same play during which he sustained a gruesome injury to his knee, tearing both his ACL and MCL.

The NFL said in January that the incorrect call was made and that the 49ers should have taken possession of the ball. On the next play, the Seahawks fumbled the ball—for real this time—and the 49ers recovered.

“The pass is going to be ruled complete,” NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said in January. “The key is that the ruling on the field was a fumble recovered by Seattle. That’s important because the recovery of the loose ball, if it doesn’t involve a sideline or it doesn’t involve the end zone, it’s not reviewable.

“The reason for that is that if we made that reviewable, then you potentially can have a replay reviewed on every pileup after a fumble when a lot of times it’s difficult to tell who has it. So you could create an exception, and when you look at the replays here, it’s clear that Bowman did have possession of the football. If one of our officials had recognized that, we should have given San Francisco possession.”

According to Pro Football Talk, there are 13 rule proposals to be considered by the owners at their league meeting next week, including:

  • Moving the kickoff to the 40-yard line.
  • Expanding instant replay to include personal foul penalties.
  • Eliminating overtime in the preseason (Yes!)
  • Extending the goal posts an additional five feet above the cross bar.
  • Moving the line of scrimmage for extra points to the defensive team’s 25-yard line.
  • Putting six cameras on all boundary lines—the sidelines, goal lines and end lines—to guarantee coverage for replay reviews.
  • Permitting coaches to challenge any official’s decision with the exception of scoring plays, which are automatically reviewed.
  • Protecting players from getting the sides of their legs rolled up on—the rule already says a blocker can’t hit an opponent in the back of the legs while this proposal will add the phrase “or side” to the rule.
  • Allowing the referee to consult with members of the NFL officiating department during replay reviews. The referee would be able to speak with the command center in new York to help in reviewing a play.
  • Not stopping the clock on a sack.
  • Modifying pass interference so that it can be called within one yard of the line of scrimmage.
  • Enforcing defensive fouls behind the line of scrimmage from the previous spot, rather than from the end of the run or spot of the foul.

There are also seven bylaw proposals to be considered, including:

  • Raising the number of active players on game day from 46 to 49 for regular-season games played on a day other than Sunday or Monday, excluding Week 1.
  • Raising the practice squad limit from eight to 10 players.
  • Permitting clubs to trade players prior to the start of the league year.
  • Eliminating the cut down to 75 players during training camp and instead just having one cut down from 90 to 53 players.
  • Permitting more than one player to return to the active list from injured reserve so that any player on injured reserve could return after six weeks (great idea!)
  • Permitting each club to time and test up to 10 players at its facility and allow other clubs to attend timing and testing at another team’s facility.
  • Adjusting the time of the roster reduction from 53 after the fourth preseason game from 6 p.m. Eastern to 4 p.m. Eastern. All teams would have to have their list of final cuts filed by 4 p.m. Eastern.

The committee also proposed permitting a home team with a retractable roof to close the roof at halftime instead of having to determine at the start of the game whether it is open or closed.