NFL may expand the definition of a “launch,” for more protection of defenseless players

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The NFL may add two words to the definition of a “launch” in the official rulebook, and those two words could result in more penalty flags being thrown — and, the league hopes, fewer injuries.

It is illegal to launch into an opponent who is in a defenseless posture, and currently the definition of a launch is when a player “leaves both feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent.”

Under the rule proposed by the Competition Committee, two words would be added to the definition of a launch, so that it would read, “leaves one or both feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent.”

The rule would need at least 24 of the 32 teams to vote for it in order to pass. Player safety rule proposals usually get the approval of the owners, and so it seems likely that this definition of “launch” will pass.

36 responses to “NFL may expand the definition of a “launch,” for more protection of defenseless players

  1. Defenders are just gonna have to learn how to….not use their feet when tackling? I guess? Is that what it’s come to?

  2. That would be terrible… when you run one foot is off the ground, so basically you have to be standing still to tackle someone.

  3. Im for improving safety – but this potential rule doesnt make sense.

    Walking forward is leaving one foot. This is saying you have to be standing still to tackle?

  4. Or, how about expanding game day rosters to include every player, add a second bye week with the 17 game season and police the actual equipment that is to be worn by the player. They police the socks or the jersey, but not the actual equipment. 🤦🏼‍♂️ This proposal is another example of an overreach.

  5. A receiver jumps up in the air to catch the ball and the defensive player launches to put their shoulder into the chest the receiver ,Will that be penalized?

    In what situations is it anticipated that this new penalty will be called?

  6. Football, by its nature, is a violent sport. I can understand instituting common-sense rules to try and reduce unnecessary risk of injury. But now we are seeing things being implemented that are purely subjective. These are the kinds of things, that if not ruled correctly, can destroy the integrity of a game. Maybe get rid of the helmets and pads. Go back to leather helmets. Today’s equipment is as much a weapon as a protector.

  7. The real question is “would this rule apply to only players on defense, or will players on offense be subject to this rule as well”? Since the 80s there has been a double standard in penalties, DEF players get flagged for things yet when an OFF player commits the same penalty it is not called. For example, facemasking, a DEF will always be flagged for this but a RB, QB, WR can grab a facemask and steer a DEF player where he wants to go and still not be flagged.

  8. I guess we’ll have to see how this works. Does this mean a player has to come to a stop before tackling the ball carrier ?
    Will be “interesting”, to say the least

  9. I hope everyone really loved that flag football game in Las Vegas. It’s coming. And it was no accident the league praised the hell out of it, making sure to tell everyone how much the players enjoyed it and how much the fans thought it was exciting. My guess is,…within 15 years, at the latest.

  10. Go back to a “spearing” type of personal foul. Penalizing defenders for making a sack or tackle is and has always been terrible for the game.

  11. ONE foot off the ground would be enough? So, the defender would have to be completely stationary for it NOT to be a penalty? That’s patently absurd.

  12. All of this over-regulation is because the NFLPA and players sue the NFL for injuries. So to be able to defend itself in court, the NFL has to show a ‘good faith’ effort to protect the players on the field. Players waste all their money in their playing days, then once they’re done they realize that no one is paying them millions of dollars, and then they start feeling the effects of years of playing football. The players agents know this so once the aches and pains start, the former agent tells the former player that he should be compensated for his injuries (he was compensated, it’s called a salary) and that the NFL should pay. Then the former agent refers the player to one of his/her lawyer buddies to start a lawsuit against the NFL. So fans can blame the lawyers for the wussification of NFL football.

  13. Just released, the new tackle rule:

    1. Defender must keep both feet on the ground while executing a tackle.
    2. Defender must ask permission of the ball carrier to proceed with the tackle. We suggest something like: “Excuse me, sir. Perchance might I be able to seek your permission to attempt to gently bring you to the ground?”
    3. If the ball carrier refuses, the defender may lodge a formal protest with the closest official.
    4. Play will then stop until a quorum is reached among the officials on the field, the hot dog vendors in the stands, and that weird guy with the rainbow hair that shows up ate very damn game.
    5. Then everyone to Chuck E. Cheese for rainbows, lollipops and pony rides.

  14. That’s a horrible proposal. If you keep one foot on the ground that’s just a tackle. This would be an easy to way to negate a big third or 4th down stop with a marginal call. Let’s not give the officials any more discretion over subjective plays to influence game outcomes than they already have.

  15. “,Expanding” a commonly agreed upon definition to ” fit your needs” is what Communism does. Period

  16. theoriginalsurferbob says:
    March 24, 2023 at 10:01 am
    I hope everyone really loved that flag football game in Las Vegas. It’s coming. And it was no accident the league praised the hell out of it, making sure to tell everyone how much the players enjoyed it and how much the fans thought it was exciting. My guess is,…within 15 years, at the latest.


    I don’t think we have to worry about that. The NFL knows that nobody is interested in watching that. If the NFL fully realizes the benefit from legalized gambling and they try for the expansion to Europe with a division in London/Germany they will be pretty close to capped on revenue opportunity. I think we will see massive growth for 5 more year and they the NFL will start to have a problem. Between parents not letting their kids play, the streaming generation not watching games etc. The NFL won’t be able to take away all the physicality and keep the money rolling in.

  17. “leaves one or both feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent.”…. So, no more running to tackle?.. .

  18. On one hand, I’m all for player safety.

    On the other hand, I miss a nice hard block from Hines Ward…a vicious hit from Brian Dawkins that tells the offense the middle is off limits today…Brett Favre getting crunched and destroyed but coming back for more and throwing a game winning td when nobody understands how’s he even still standing…that good ol highlight of all the vicious hits with Boomer.

    That’s the NFL a lot of fans grew up watching and loving…

    I’m simply uninterested in this rule and would happily take some changes to drop tackling instead. All of a sudden that doesn’t sound too bad.

  19. There is no such thing as a defenseless player. The QB and offensive coordinators put players in bad positions with poor play calls/concepts against wrong defenses/coverages. Route combination against wrong coverages are the doom of any WR. Those poor route combinations are possible now because of the inability to hit the QB w any force, thus allowing the QB to stand in the pocket longer. It is all connected to points and offense.

    Football is the only sport in the world where it is the defenses job to “protect” the offensive player.

  20. They need to define a catch, like when the player catches it and it doesn’t move a bit until the defensive hit causes a fumble thats a fumble. Doesn’t matter if they took some steps. STOP TAKING AWAY A GREAT DEFENSIVE PLAY!!!!!

  21. They need three steps to make it a catch in the middle of the field just in case they get hit and fumble, but only one knee in bounds to also make it catch. NO NO NO NO Put the football on sideline catches , right that’s stupid, so are catches they call no catch because the defender caused a FUMBLE! But it wasn’t a fumble because they didn’t have it long enough.

  22. rabbi187 says:
    March 24, 2023 at 9:51 am
    Funny how improving player safety only includes offensive players.
    They have expanded prohibitions on crack-back and blind-side blocks to help protect defensive players. The nature of the game is that defenders hit offensive players and offense players block defensive players, so that is where the rule changes will most commonly focus on improving player safety.

  23. I don’t much like the proposed rule change. Launching by leaving your feet to turn yourself into a missile is relatively easy to see and to call. And as a rule, it makes a certain sense in that a person flying through the air is out of control. Redefining to include lifting one foot now changes the prohibited actions to include simply running or even walking during which the defensive player still has a foot on the ground and is still in control.

  24. What this means is that it will be left to the refs to judge what was the intent of the offending player. Did he, with one foot still on the ground, intend to create more powerful contact in lifting and aiming his body, and thereby risk the injury of the other player. More subjective decisions for the refs. This is EXACTLY where the trouble usually arises. Unless you are going to find refs who are also mind readers, this expansion of the rule can not work.

  25. Leave the rules alone, football is meant to be a tough physical game, and with each rule change your killing the game, besides that’s why the players make the big bucks!!!!

  26. If they pass this, they HAVE to make it a reviewable penalty. There will be too many times this is callled wrongly and severely impact games (especially now that there’s betting). It’s time anyway for the NFL to adopt the USFL’s officiating thing where the main guy in the booth reviews plays and penalties right away and gives the on-field official the final verdict. Clean, easy, and many fewer bad calls. But they won’t do it because……they are the NFL.

  27. We can look forward to every team of referees having their own interpretation of another set of vague, opaque and judgmental rules that will have everyone standing around on the field for 15 minutes while they look at replays over & over & over & over.

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