Meetings end on point

Posted Mar 26, 2014


ORLANDO, Fla.- The most ground-breaking issues at this week's NFL annual meeting never came to a vote as owners, general managers, and coaches grappled with culture issues on and off the field in the wake of the Michael Sam announcement and the bullying scandal in Miami.

Plus, the NFL competition committee said it has moved its taunting regulations to the front of its work book and co-chairman Jeff Fisher said that is where it's going to stay until the histrionics calm down.

"We're going to clean the game up on the field between the players," Fisher said in Wednesday's news conference that ended the meetings. "The in-your-face taunting. The language. It's all in the book. It's all under unsportsmanlike conduct. There's no change in our rule. We're going to enforce the current rule."

Bengals president Mike Brown said he appreciated the culture discussions and endorsed how his head coach, Marvin Lewis, runs his team.

"Marvin has been very good with that. The coaches talked in their meetings about how coaching has changed. Jeff Fisher, the coach of the Rams, said when he was a young coach he spent 80 percent of the time on Xs and Os and 20 percent on interaction with players," Brown said. "Now it's flipped. It's important to work with players, to lead them, instruct them, set standards for them. I think you can do that by being down in the locker room or being around them more. You can do that by including sermons in your daily meetings. Meet with them privately. Keep them on your phone. Marvin does all that and I think that's what good coaches need to do."

As for hard core rules, the biggest move came Tuesday when the owners allowed the referee to consult with members of the NFL officiating department in New York during a challenge. The other major move came Wednesday when a plan for longer extra points was adopted for two preseason games in an experiment to make the PAT a bit tougher with a 37-yard kick.

Other rule changes for the regular season are a bit more low profile:

-Protect players from getting the sides of their legs rolled up on and not just the back of them.

-Re-organize the rules about what can be reviewed and what cannot be reviewed, including making the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play reviewable.

-Don’t stop the clock on a sack.

-Enforce defensive fouls behind the line of scrimmage from the previous spot, rather than from the end of the run or from the spot of the foul.

The rule to modify pass interference so it's called within one yard of the line of scrimmage was tabled.

Brown is glad the PAT issue is out on the table and he thinks there'll be a new device in place for the 2015 season. As he has in the past, Brown may be leaning to simply making a TD worth seven points in order to save time.

"There was very good discussion on the extra point. It's become a celebratory play in my mind. It's not an exciting play. The thing I like is we have started a discussion on the extra point," Brown said. "I don't think necessarily this is where we're going to end up. There are a lot of different ideas.

"Put the ball at the one for a better chance to convert for two. Narrow the goal posts. Eliminate the play altogether and just count a touchdown as seven points. That would take time out of the game and we need to eliminate time of the game because the game is growing too long. Another idea is just to eliminate it and just make the conversion a live play. In the next year or so they'll debate it and there will be a new way."

The proposals for roster revisions got tabled or shot down, much to Brown's satisfaction. The two that went down to defeat, having just one cut to 53 players that abolished the 75 cut, and pemitting any player on injured reserve to return after six weeks, didn't get much traction in Bengaldom.

Brown, who remembers the days of "stashing," players on injured reserve, doesn't like that IR proposal. He prefers the eight-man practice squad where not only can players practice, but they can also be plucked by other teams and have to be on the active list for at least three weeks after they're signed away.

"If suddenly you go back to the old plan, you're going to have a duplication of the (game) inactive list, plus the old injured reserve, which was replaced by the inactive list," Brown said. "There can be abuses of the injured reserve. Instead of waiving a player, just keep him around and retain the rights to him, but he couldn't be available to other teams. In the old days they called that stashing.

"It's good they are on the (practice) squad, where they are practicing and getting better and available not only to the team that has them but as a reserve for the whole league. If suddenly you start stashing players, you reduce the players on the (practice) squads and make those players unable to practice and only available to their own team. I think we have a better system as it is now."

Brown voted for the five-foot extensions of the goal posts ("It was popular,") and for the command center replay, even though he ever rarely votes for any kind of replay.

"For the first time someone other than I stood up and made the comment that maybe we have to think about how long this is taking," Brown said. "It may be a better way of doing it. It may be more accurate, it may be quicker. They claim it should be quicker."



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