Are you ready for some football?
The 2015 NFL season kicks off tonight as the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots look to put their a tumultuous offseason behind them as they welcome the Pittsburgh Steelers to town. Aside from a likely increase in the amount of attention referees pay to the PSI of game footballs, there are plenty of other new features that fans should be aware of before kickoff.
1. Extra points aren’t a gimme anymore. Instead of an 18 yard field goal kicked from the 2-yard line, the ball will be placed at the 15 for PATs, making for a 33-yard field goal. Two point conversion attempts will stay at the 2-yard line.
2. The NFL is welcoming its first full-time female official. Sarah Thomas was the first woman to ref a college football game in 2007, and she’ll be a line judge on an NFL crew this year.
3. Super Bowl L? Try Super Bowl 50. Don’t be alarmed this coming February when the Super Bowl rolls around and you don’t see its logo adorned with the traditional Roman numerals. The NFL has decided that it will use the number ‘50’ instead of L, the Roman numeral for 50, in celebration of the game’s 50th anniversary. Teams will commemorate the anniversary with gold 50-yard-line numerals.
4. Rugby league meets the NFL, and San Francisco 49ers fans could be in for an extra treat this season if rookie running back Jarryd Hayne is as good as he was in the preseason. ‘The Hayne Train’ is a former NRL (National Rugby League) star who turned down big money in Australia to chase his dream of playing in the NFL. The best part? He plays like he’s in a rugby league game, and the results are incredible. Hayne, who had only played American football on his PlayStation before suiting up with San Francisco, was second among NFL running backs in the preseason with 175 yards, though it’s unclear at this point what his role with San Francisco will actually be.
Mike Tanier, NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report