2023 NFL Rule Changes: Have A Glance Over the Notable Changes

John Rizzo

2023 NFL Rule Changes

The world of professional football is ever-evolving, and the NFL remains at the forefront of adapting and fine-tuning its rules to ensure the integrity of the game and the safety of its players. 

As we dive into the heart of the 2023 NFL season, it’s crucial for fans and enthusiasts to understand the significant rule changes that have shaped the gameplay, strategy, and overall experience on the field. 

From helmet use modifications aimed at reducing injuries to adjustments in tripping rules to enhance sportsmanship, this blog post will dissect the most critical rule changes that define the current NFL season. 

We’ll also explore the impact of these changes on the game and what they mean for players and fans alike. So, buckle up your chinstraps and get ready to navigate the intricacies of the 2023 NFL rulebook.

2023 NFL New Membership

In 2023, the NFL implemented a significant rule change regarding membership in the league. 

Their collective efforts aimed to address certain challenges and opportunities facing the NFL as it sought to maintain its status as the premier professional football league in the world.

The primary focus of this rule change was to enhance the inclusivity and diversity of NFL membership. The league recognized that it needed to adapt to the changing demographics of both its fan base and the broader American society. 

As a result, the NFL leadership worked together to establish a more inclusive framework for membership, with the goal of expanding opportunities for underrepresented groups within the league.

Key aspects of the 2023 NFL rule change in membership included:

Expansion of Ownership Opportunities

Under the new rule, the NFL encouraged greater diversity in team ownership.  This meant actively seeking out and promoting ownership candidates from diverse backgrounds, including women and people of color. 

The league created programs and incentives to support these potential owners in acquiring NFL franchises.

Coaching and Front Office Diversity

The NFL took concrete steps to promote diversity among coaching staff and front office personnel. 

Teams were required to interview a diverse pool of candidates for key positions, and the league introduced mentorship and development programs to help individuals from underrepresented groups advance in their careers within the NFL.

Fan Engagement

The NFL recognized the importance of fostering a sense of belonging and representation among its fans. 

The league initiated campaigns and programs aimed at engaging fans from diverse backgrounds, celebrating different cultures, and promoting inclusivity in its fan base.

Social Justice Initiatives

Building on previous efforts, the NFL continued its commitment to social justice initiatives. 

The league and its players collaborated on various programs aimed at addressing systemic issues in society, with a particular focus on racial equality and criminal justice reform.

League Leadership

The NFL leadership, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, committed to leading by example in promoting diversity and inclusion within the league’s own ranks. 

This included diversifying the league’s executive leadership, committees, and decision-making bodies.

The 2023 NFL rule change in membership marked a significant milestone in the league’s history, signaling its commitment to embracing change and evolving with the times. 

By prioritizing inclusivity and diversity, the NFL aimed to create a more equitable and representative league that would resonate with fans from all walks of life, ensuring its continued success as America’s most popular sport. 

This collaborative effort by key figures within the NFL demonstrated the league’s dedication to a more inclusive and progressive future for professional football.

Third QB Rule Returns With a Twist in 2023 NFL Rule Change

2023 NFL Rule Change

In 2023, the NFL reintroduced the “third quarterback” rule with a twist as part of its ongoing efforts to balance roster flexibility with competitive integrity. 

This rule allows teams to carry an active third quarterback on game day without having him count against the NFL-imposed roster limit. 

However, there are new stipulations and restrictions that aim to limit the use of this option while maintaining the fairness of the game.

Under the revised third quarterback rule:

53-Man Roster Inclusion

The third quarterback must be part of a team’s 53-man roster. This means that teams cannot simply promote a quarterback from the practice squad via a standard elevation for that specific role. 

This requirement ensures that teams must make a full commitment to the player as part of their active roster.

Injury Trigger

The third quarterback can only enter the game if the top two quarterbacks on the depth chart are injured and unable to play. 

This provision is essential to prevent teams from exploiting the rule by strategically inserting the third quarterback in non-injury situations. It maintains the competitive balance and integrity of the game.

Medical Clearance

If either of the top two quarterbacks is cleared to play by medical officials, the third quarterback must be immediately removed from the game. 

This stipulation ensures that the third quarterback’s presence on the field is contingent upon the actual necessity of their services due to injuries to the primary quarterbacks.

Referee Oversight

The responsibility of tracking and enforcing the third quarterback rule falls on the game’s referee. 

The referee is tasked with monitoring the eligibility of the third quarterback throughout the game, ensuring that the rule is adhered to strictly.

The reintroduction of the third quarterback rule with these new stipulations reflects the NFL’s commitment to maintaining a level playing field and preventing teams from taking undue advantage of roster flexibility. 

It strikes a balance between giving teams a measure of flexibility and ensuring that the rule is not exploited to gain an unfair advantage. 

This updated rule is designed to enhance the competitive nature of NFL games while allowing teams to manage their rosters more effectively in response to unforeseen quarterback injuries.

Instant Replay Reversal Changed Rule in 2023

Instant Replay Reversal Changed Rule in 2023

In 2023, the NFL introduced a noteworthy change regarding instant replay reversals, particularly when they occur within the last two minutes of a game. 

This rule change aimed to streamline the game’s flow and ensure consistency in managing the play clock and game clock in such critical moments.

Under the new rule:

Play Clock Reset

When an instant replay decision results in a reversal and there are less than two minutes remaining in the game, the play clock will be reset to 40 seconds instead of the previous 25 seconds. 

This extension of the play clock is intended to give teams more time to organize and execute their next play, recognizing that late-game situations often require careful planning and adjustments.

Exceptions for Runoff

However, there are exceptions to the play clock reset rule. If another rule, such as a 10-second runoff, comes into play due to the reversal, the play clock will be reset to 30 seconds instead of the standard 40 seconds. 

This exception helps maintain consistency when multiple timing-related rules apply simultaneously.

Clock Management Inside 2:00

Inside the last two minutes of a game, if a reversal occurs that changes the clock status from a stopped clock to a running clock, there are two options to address this change. 

Either a 10-second runoff can be applied, or the team on offense can use one of its charged timeouts. This provision ensures that teams cannot exploit instant replay reversals to their advantage in clock management during crunch time.

This 2023 rule change in instant replay reversals was aimed at enhancing the overall efficiency of late-game situations and reducing potential confusion regarding the play clock and game clock adjustments. 

By providing teams with additional time and specifying how clock management should occur within the final two minutes, the NFL sought to ensure fairness and consistency in the handling of crucial moments in games. 

These adjustments were designed to strike a balance between fairness and game management while keeping the excitement of NFL games intact.

2023 Changed Rule in The Use of Helmet

2023 Changed Rule in The Use of Helmet

In 2023, the NFL made a significant modification to the Use of Helmet rule, which was initially adopted in 2018. 

This rule change represents a continued effort by the league to prioritize player safety and reduce the risk of head and neck injuries during games.

Under the updated Use of Helmet rule:

Lowering the Head

Players are prohibited from lowering their heads in a manner that is not to brace for contact. 

This provision remains consistent with previous iterations of the rule, emphasizing the importance of avoiding any intentional head-down collisions.

Initiating Contact

Players are also prohibited from initiating contact with the helmet to any part of an opponent’s body. 

This modification expands the scope of the rule, making it clear that contact does not have to be directed solely at an opponent’s head or neck area to be considered a foul. 

Lowering the head and initiating contact with an opponent’s torso, hips, or lower body is also deemed a violation of the rule.

Use of Helmet or Face Mask

The most notable change in the 2023 modification is that it prohibits a player from using any part of his helmet or face mask to butt or make forcible contact with an opponent’s head or neck area. 

This specific provision is designed to eliminate dangerous head-to-head or head-to-neck hits that can result in severe injuries, including concussions and neck trauma.

The emphasis on player safety through the Use of Helmet rule underscores the NFL’s ongoing commitment to minimizing the risk of head and neck injuries in the sport. 

By broadening the scope of prohibited actions and explicitly addressing the use of the helmet or face mask for forcible contact, the league seeks to create a safer and more responsible playing environment for all participants. 

This rule change is a part of the NFL’s continuous efforts to ensure that player safety remains a top priority in professional football.

Changed Rule in Tripping

In 2023, the NFL implemented a significant rule change related to tripping, making it a more severe infraction with consequences for both the player committing the act and the team. 

This rule change is aimed at promoting player safety and fair play while reducing the potential for dangerous and unsportsmanlike actions on the field.

Under the updated tripping rule:

Personal Foul

Tripping is now considered a personal foul. When a player is deemed to have tripped an opponent intentionally or recklessly, it results in a 15-yard penalty assessed against the offending team. 

This penalty can have a significant impact on field position and the momentum of a game.

Additional Discipline

Beyond the 15-yard penalty, the rule change also includes the provision that tripping is subject to additional discipline, whether it is called or not called on the field by officials. 

This means that players who are found to have engaged in tripping actions may face further consequences, such as fines, suspensions, or other disciplinary measures imposed by the league after a review of the game footage.

The decision to enhance the penalties for tripping and subject it to additional discipline reflects the NFL’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of the game and ensuring the safety of its players. 

Tripping can lead to dangerous situations, potential injuries, and unfair advantages, and this rule change is designed to deter such actions and promote fair competition.

By making tripping a personal foul with a substantial yardage penalty and the possibility of further disciplinary action, the NFL aims to discourage players from engaging in this type of behavior and create a safer and more sportsmanlike environment on the field. 

This rule change aligns with the league’s ongoing efforts to prioritize player safety and maintain the high standards of professionalism in the sport.


What are the key changes to the 2023 NFL Use of Helmet rule?

In 2023, the NFL expanded the Use of Helmet rule to prohibit the use of any part of the helmet or face mask to make forcible contact with an opponent’s head or neck area, emphasizing player safety and reducing dangerous hits.

How has the NFL modified the tripping rule for 2023?

Starting in 2023, tripping is now a personal foul, resulting in a 15-yard penalty. It’s also subject to additional discipline, even if not called on the field, to discourage unsafe actions.

What’s the new rule regarding instant replay reversals inside 2:00 in 2023?

In 2023, if a reversal changes the clock status from stopped to running inside 2:00, it requires either a 10-second runoff or a charged team timeout, ensuring fair clock management.

What is the significant change in the third quarterback rule for 2023?

The 2023 rule change allows teams to carry an active third quarterback on game day without counting against the roster limit. 

However, the third quarterback can only enter if the top two are injured, with referee oversight to maintain fairness.

How did the NFL modify the membership rule for 2023?

In 2023, the NFL enhanced its membership rules to promote diversity and inclusivity in ownership, coaching staff, and fan engagement. 

This included expanding ownership opportunities, promoting diversity, and continuing social justice initiatives.

Wrapping Up

In the ever-changing world of professional football, the 2023 NFL rule changes represent a commitment to safety, fairness, and the continuous improvement of the game. 

From the stringent Use of Helmet rules to the stricter tripping penalties, the NFL’s adjustments aim to protect players and enhance sportsmanship. The third quarterback rule and instant replay reversals offer fresh dynamics to the game, maintaining fairness and excitement. 

Furthermore, the league’s focus on inclusivity and diversity in membership underscores its commitment to reflecting the values of the broader society. As fans, players, and stakeholders, understanding these rule changes is crucial for appreciating the evolving landscape of the NFL.

These modifications not only impact the game but also serve as a testament to the league’s dedication to excellence and safety. As we cheer for our favorite teams, let’s also applaud the NFL’s efforts to keep the game we love safe, fair, and exciting.

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John Rizzo

I am a professional rugby player in the Washington DC-Baltimore area. I have been playing rugby for over 10 years and have had the opportunity to play in many different countries. I am also a coach for both youth and adult rugby teams. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Sports Management and Marketing. I am currently working on my MPA from American University and plan to pursue this career path after graduating next year. LinkedIn