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Art McNally resigned as the league's Director of Officiating during the offseason. He had held the position since 1968. Longtime NFL referee Jerry Seeman, who worked the previous season's Super Bowl XXV, was named as McNally's replacement.
Jim Tunney retired after 31 years as an NFL official. He remains the only referee to have worked consecutive Super Bowls (XI, and XII).
Gene Barth died on October 11, 1991. For the remainder of the 1991 season, NFL officials wore a black armband on their left sleeve with the white number 14 to honor him.
Source: Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN0-06-270174-6). pp 1583-1592.
The definition of a drop kick, field goal, and punt is modified: all three can only be attempted from behind the line of scrimmage.
If a foul by a player causes an injury to an opponent, a team time out will not be charged to the penalized team anytime during the game instead of only during the last two minutes of a half/overtime.
The game clock will not start until the next snap following any change of possession, even if the player went out of bounds.
Officials will immediately blow the play dead when a defensive player is offsides before the snap and clearly rushes beyond the offensive line in such a way that he becomes an unabated threat to the quarterback.
A touchback will be ruled when a player fumbles the ball in the field of play and it goes out of bounds in the opponent's end zone.
A touchback, not a safety, will also be ruled when a player fumbles the ball in his own end zone and the opponent is the one that knocks the fumble out of bounds in the end zone.
An offensive player cannot deliberately bat a backward pass forward.
Paul Brown: Brown died on August 5, 1991 at home of complications from pneumonia. A longtime coach of the Cleveland Browns and co-founder of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968, also serving as their first coach, Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.
October 21: James Lofton became the oldest player to record 200 yards receiving as well as 200 yards from scrimmage in a game (35 years, 108 days), as the Buffalo Bills defeated the Cincinnati Bengals by a 35-16 final.
Just before the start of training camp, owner Eddie DeBartolo unveiled a new helmet logo with "49ers" in a modern font, replacing the interlocking "SF" which had been on the team's helmets since 1962. After severe fan backlash, DeBartolo reversed course two days later.
This was the second year under the league's four-year broadcast contracts with ABC, CBS, NBC, TNT, and ESPN. ABC, CBS, and NBC continued to televise Monday Night Football, the NFC package, the AFC package, respectively. Sunday night games aired on TNT during the first half of the season, and ESPN during the second half of the season.