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NFL to vote on expanding rule penalizing blocking below the waist

The Ravens propose adding an eighth official while the Competition Committee proposes a rule that enhances the role of the replay official. Mike Florio and Myles Simmons explain why the latter idea is a half-measure.

More flags on blocks below the waist may be thrown in 2021, if a new rule proposal passes.

The NFL owners will vote on a rule that would greatly expand the prohibition on blocking below the waist, making such blocks illegal by offensive and defensive players if contact occurs beyond five yards on either side of the line of scrimmage and more than two yards outside of either offensive tackle.

Former NFL referee Terry McAulay, who analyzes officiating for NBC Sports, says the new rule would be a significant change, noting that it would give the NFL more restrictions against blocking below the waist than the NCAA has.

All such illegal blocks would carry a 15-yard penalty.

This might result in more flags being thrown, but it also might result in fewer lower body injuries, as players often complain that when their opponents block them low, it risks serious knee injuries. When the Competition Committee proposes a rule for player safety, the NFL owners rarely vote it down, so this rule has a good chance of passing.