Ed Hochuli and other NFL referees can rest easier after team owners passed a rule Wednesday in Dana Point, Calif., allowing video replays on a loose ball that could be either a fumble or an incomplete pass.
Hochuli famously ruled Denver quarterback Jay Cutler to have thrown an incomplete pass in the final moments of a Week 2 game with San Diego last season. Replays clearly showed it was a fumble that the Chargers recovered, but the play was not part of the review process. Denver kept the ball and won the game seconds later.
Now it is reviewable.
Owners made five other changes at the meeting:
•Replay now can be used to determine if a loose ball hit the sideline.
•The owners eliminated a rekick after an illegal onside kick, awarding the ball immediately to the receiving team.
•The draft order for playoff teams was reworked and will be based on where teams were eliminated in the postseason.
•A waiver period during the first two weeks of training camp was established. Owners also reworded when the postseason waiver period begins – previously it was after the Pro Bowl. In the future, the Super Bowl will be played after the Pro Bowl in some seasons, and the waiver period will begin after the final postseason game.
•Finally, on all fumbles and laterals that go out of bounds, the clock will start when the referee signals ready for play.
Goodell favors development
Nearly three years after punting NFL Europe into oblivion, Roger Goodell wants a developmental league to return.
The commissioner raised the subject at the NFL meetings.
One issue is how teams would make up for losing the snaps they give younger players in August games in order to develop.
“The way we look at the developmental league would be mostly in the offseason where players could get those reps and then have the opportunity to play in the NFL as they work into the season,” Goodell said. “That’s the key. That’s what we did with the NFL Europe structure, for example.”
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review's sports newsletter
Get the day's top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.