Every year both the competition committee and NFL teams propose new rules or amendments to past ones to be voted on at the owners' meetings. It takes 75% of the vote (24 of 32 owners) to implement a new rule.
Thanks to these meetings, over the last handful of years (excellent filler word for when you don't feel like researching to give an exact number), there have been drastic changes to the game. We've seen snap placement on extra points pushed back to the 15-yard line. You can now score a two-point conversion on defensive/special teams (s/o Eric Berry), and the onside kick has moved to hospice care.
This year there are 11 potential rule changes up for a vote, including eliminating overtime in the preseason (which feels like a no-brainer), adding a "sky judge" and the "4th & 15" option to replace neutered onside kicks. The two-time defending AFC champion, Kansas City Chiefs, proposed an amendment to Rule 5, Section 1, Article 2 that wouldn't change how the game is played on the field but would undoubtedly change its looks. It's fitting that the only team who still has a tribute to the AFL on its uniforms suggested that the No Fun League loosen up some of its jersey number restrictions.
Before 1973 partly due to expansion with AAFC and AFL teams, there wasn't as much uniformity in uniform numbers; that's why a FB like Marion Motley was #76 and his QB Otto Graham was #60. The NFL is the only professional sports league in the U.S. with official restrictions on jersey number by position. I totally understand the need for the system when it comes to eligible vs. ineligible receivers, but I've never understood what was the big deal about a WR wearing #5 like you'll see in college football. Seeing a defensive lineman rock a single digit in college is always hilarious. These the NFL's current rules regarding jersey numbers:
Via: The NFL Rulebook.
All players must wear numerals on their jerseys in accordance with Rule 5, Section 4, Article 3, Item 3. Such numerals must be by playing position, as follows:
If a player changes his position during his playing career in the NFL, and such change moves him from a position as an ineligible pass receiver to that of an eligible pass receiver, or from a position as an eligible pass receiver to that of an ineligible pass receiver, he must be issued an appropriate new jersey numeral. A change in jersey numeral is not required if the change is from an ineligible position to another ineligible position, or from an eligible position to another eligible position, provided that the player has participated at least one season at his position prior to the change.
Any request to wear a numeral for a special position not specified above (e.g., H-back) must be made to the Commissioner. During the preseason period when playing rosters are larger, the League will allow duplication and other temporary deviations from the numbering scheme specified above, but the rule must be adhered to for all players during the regular season and postseason. Clubs must make numerals available to adhere to the rule, even if it requires returning to circulation a numeral that has been retired or withheld for other reasons. See 5-3-1 for reporting a change of position.
Under the Chiefs proposed amendment, the new jersey number rules would look like this:
QBs, Punters, Kickers: 1-19
Running Backs, Fullbacks, H-Backs, Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: 1-49; 80-89
Offensive Linemen: 50-79
Defensive Backs: 1-49
Linebackers: 1-59; 90-99
Defensive Linemen: 50-79; 90-99
There will always be wet blankets who think jersey numbers don't matter, but I consider myself a jersey number guy. I'm a big believer in the Deion Sanders' look good, play good, get paid good mantra and am always curious why a player has an affinity for a particular digit. If it doesn't hurt anybody and makes people a little bit happier before they eventually die, I say go for it! I am 100% in favor of this move. I think from a marketing and merchandising standpoint, this change is a no-brainer. More jersey sales for the NFL! Plus a single-digit jersey is inherently cooler than #82, unless the player's last name is Blink-One. It's a harmless, fun change that also has some legitimate reasoning behind it.
So many single digits go wasted every season! Who's the best #6 of all time, Johnny Hekker? I'm 99.7% sure the rules aren't as strictly enforced when it comes to offensive lineman. I swear I've seen guards and tackles in the 50's but I could be Mandela Effecting myself. According to the Wikipedia page on NFL Uniform Numbers, I'm not.
If this ends up passing, Brian Bosworth and Reggie Bush walked so this generation could run.
As long as QBs have to be somewhere between 1-19, I really don't care what numbers guys are wearing. QBs in the 20s look AWFUL.