NFL could eliminate rule prohibiting rookies from practice field until school year ends

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Solomon Thomas and Christian McCaffrey complained this spring about an “extremely annoying” NFL rule that keeps rookies off the field until their colleges’ school year ends, whether they are enrolled or not. The NFL and the American Football Coaches Association apparently agree.

They are “on the verge” of changing the “May 16 Rule” for the 2018 offseason, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Media.

The league’s competition committee heard the plan during a conference call Tuesday, per Pelissero, though no vote is required to change it.

The current rule allows all rookies to participate in rookie minicamps, but players whose schools remain in session are prohibited from other activities until final exams are completed. Many of those affected, including Thomas and McCaffrey, are from the Pac-12.

McCaffrey said this spring the rule “sucks,” and Thomas called it “extremely annoying” and “frustrating.”

Under the new rule, all rookies could join their teams at a mutually agreed upon date, on or around May 16, per Pelissero. A rookie still enrolled in classes would receive time to complete final exams, while graduate students and those who have completed coursework could fully participate in offseason activities.

The new rule will prohibit teams from making offseason activities mandatory for players who remain in school.

The NFL implemented the rule in 1990 “to protect student-athletes who have remained in school to complete their schoolwork,” according to the league’s football operations website. Players from Stanford, Washington, Northwestern, Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA, which had exams after June 1, were affected this spring, according to Pelissero.

26 responses to “NFL could eliminate rule prohibiting rookies from practice field until school year ends

  1. The NFL should have taken Eric Winston’s practice time stance to heart. If you players want something, you can collectively bargain for it.

  2. I’m not a fan of the notion of “common sense” rules, because the term itself is subjective, but it makes complete sense to allow drafted rookies to be at minicamp if they do not have any school-related requirements pending.

  3. The schools named above are doing quite well getting players ready for the NFL. Stanford even has two GM’s, John Elway and John Lynch. Maybe more schools should be copying them instead.

  4. This is also tough for potential NFL players from the University of Chicago, which has a funky tri-quarter schedule, and their last semester doesn’t end until late June.

  5. charliecharger says:
    October 3, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    The schools named above are doing quite well getting players ready for the NFL. Stanford even has two GM’s, John Elway and John Lynch. Maybe more schools should be copying them instead.
    ——————-

    This rule wasn’t even a rule when Elway was at Stanford.

  6. kcchefs58 says:
    October 3, 2017 at 7:09 pm
    I’m not a fan of the notion of “common sense” rules, because the term itself is subjective, but it makes complete sense to allow drafted rookies to be at minicamp if they do not have any school-related requirements pending.

    —————

    It makes sense to treat players like adults – but part of this rule is to protect players from an over eager coach forcing football down there throat before they get a chance to take their final exams (to graduate). It’s a tough balance, because the second it becomes ‘optional’, then it becomes mandatory.

  7. mmack66 says:
    October 3, 2017 at 7:5This rule wasn’t even a rule when Elway was at Stanford3 pm

    *************************************
    Stanford is putting a heck of a lot more players in the NFL nowadays, compared to the Elway days. So thanks for helping my argument.

  8. chitowncolt says:
    October 3, 2017 at 7:37 pm
    This is also tough for potential NFL players from the University of Chicago, which has a funky tri-quarter schedule, and their last semester doesn’t end until late June.
    ——————————————————————————————
    Have the Maroons ever had a player in an NFL camp, let alone make a team?

  9. charliecharger says:
    October 3, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Stanford is putting a heck of a lot more players in the NFL nowadays, compared to the Elway days. So thanks for helping my argument.
    ———————-

    Lol. Not sure how pointing out you were wrong about Elway helped your “argument”, but more power to you.

  10. Off topic: there have been at least two advertisers who’ve pulled out of NFL games. Why hasn’t that been posted about here PFT?

  11. @decendency

    You didn’t fully understand what I said and the contents of article. No one said anything about anything being mandatory if the actual mandatory rule that’s in place changes.

  12. chitowncolt says:
    October 3, 2017 at 7:37 pm
    This is also tough for potential NFL players from the University of Chicago, which has a funky tri-quarter schedule, and their last semester doesn’t end until late June.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Verrrrrrry funny.

  13. It is a dumb rule, but I could also see a kid that was a couple credits away from graduating being coerced by the team to skip school and get to work. As long as there is strong protection that nothing will happen to those handful of kids, it will be good to get this rule off the books.

  14. laserw says:
    October 3, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    The rule is fair to all.

    Perhaps the schools should change how they schedule their periods.
    ______________________________________________________________________________________________

    Yes, schools should change the schedules for literally millions of students so that 300 kids entering the NFL every year can be accommodated.

  15. They do realize these kids are not even going to class past their last game right?

    Same with all the other sports, stop trying to make it look like they care about their education.

    How many are receiving their degree? Not too many, they can mask it behind the athletic department of the entire team of 110 players where 75% never see the field and get their degree.

  16. I think the student needs to have completed their own requirements, including taking exams. If a guy has the gumption to finish everything early then power to him and he should not have to wait for the students that don’t. But he himself should finish. I realize this might seem tough for a player thats only ever going to make it in the NFL and play football, but not having them finish out their acedemic requirements hurts the players that might intend to do nothing but football, but it doesnt work out that way and they suddenly do need that education after all. This is actually the majority of players and the rules, while it might be tough on the few, was a rare case of the NFL looking past money for the best interests of most players. So it should maybe get modified but not removed.

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