Goodbye to the Ickey Shuffle. Goodbye to the post-game congregation of players and coaches on the field and even the post-game prayer sessions. And goodbye to the controversial "in the grasp" rule.
Sort of.NFL owners completed their annual meetings Wednesday by approving a package of rules aimed at cutting down on excessive demonstrations.
The most-heralded example is the shuffle patented by Cincinnati's Ickey Woods in 1988. Banned from the end zone the next year, Woods was allowed to continue to perform his awkward dance on the sidelines.
Under the new rules, any team that has a player who engages in a sideline demonstration can be fined. If the player does it on the field, the team will be penalized - except for such spontaneous demonstrations as spiking the ball after a touchdown.
"Our players are paid to be athletes, not dancers or performers," said Jim Finks, chairman of the competition committee.
The most substantive change was in the "in the grasp" rule, which will likely aid more mobile quarterbacks like Randall Cunningham and John Elway. Under the old rule, a quarterback was ruled down if he was in the "grasp and control" of a defender.
Under the new rule, proposed by Jerry Seeman, who takes over as supervisor of officials from retiring Art McNally, the words "only when his safety is in jeopardy" are added.
That means a quarterback can be grasped around the legs and still get a pass off if his upper body is free. Seeman said that the play would be whistled dead only if the quarterback is about to be hit.
As for post-game congregating, Finks said the NFL was simply enforcing a 1981 rule against fraternization. He cited the post-game confrontation in December between Phil Simms of the New York Giants and Ronnie Lott of San Francisco as one example of what can happen if players don't get off the field quickly.
But Finks said it also applied to handshakes by coaches - they can now wave to each other - discussions between players on opposing teams and the two-team prayer sessions that became popular at the end of the year. He said the prayers could be conducted off the field. A short prayer by a player scoring a touchdown is allowed, however.
Many of the rule changes were precipitated by Seeman, whom Finks credited with pushing through a group of changes by convincing the coaches beforehand to support them.