As pointed out by Mike Pereira, the NFL makes a bunch of rule changes each year that aren’t technically rule changes—the rulebook wording can be adjusted under existing rules without having to send something to the Competition Committee. We’ve got some new ones for 2016, and they’re all direct responses to things that happened last season.
1. Packers WR James Jones took the field wearing a hoodie under his jersey, and it actually managed not to violate the league’s draconian uniform policy. (But only because it was an approved team color, the sleeves were the right length, and it was made by an NFL apparel partner.)
No more. Jones is an unsigned free agent, but if he finds work he’ll have to go without the hoodie. The updated uniform policy specifically forbids them, because the hood can block a player’s nameplate.
2. Another new rule expressly forbids assistant coaches from entering the field of play for any reason other than to attend to an injured player. This had to be clarified after the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh wild card game, when Steelers assistant Joey Porter came out ostensibly to check on a concussed Antonio Brown, but ended up getting into a shoving match with Bengals players.
Porter was fined $10,000 for his involvement, but going forward officials will know it should be a flag as well. Too late for the Bengals, who lost on a field goal and really could have used an offsetting penalty.
3. A third rule covers something that may never ever happen again—but it happened once, so why not put it in writing? In the Cardinals-Packers playoff game, referee Clete Blakeman flipped the coin...and it didn’t flip.
The rulebook now mandates that a coin must turn over at least once in the air, and if it doesn’t, the ref must re-flip it, with the captain’s original call standing. That’s exactly what Blakeman did, but at the time the rulebook left it up to his judgment. Now it’s codified.
As always, the NFL realized that what it needed more than anything was more rules.