NFL Owners Meetings

The NFL owners meetings are underway in Phoenix, Arizona and some hot topics are being discussed. The most important of which was what will happen to NFL Europe in the wake of the war in Iraq and unsettled turmoil. There is always a need to carry on with life, but the cost must be assessed in the health of all involved.

The decision as to whether the league should go on as planned with NFL Europe has been made. There had been talk of the April 5th season beginning in Florida with a few games even being played there.

The developmental league's players and coaches will leave for Germany, Spain, Netherlands and Scotland this week after the 32 NFL owners decided overwhelmingly Monday to proceed as usual despite the war in Iraq.

Several players have expressed concerns over their safety as potential terrorist targets. The six-team NFL Europe is made of teams in Germany, Spain, Scotland and The Netherlands.

We're an American business in Europe,'' commissioner Paul Tagliabue said. "Like other American businesses, we have to continue on.''

The meetings began with Tagliabue's state of the league speech to the owners. He emphasized the importance of racial diversity in the league's hiring's, including a new policy requiring every team to interview at least one minority candidate before hiring a head coach. The subject of diversity figures to dominate the next few days.

The annual meeting runs through Thursday, and will cover a variety of topics of varying interest to certain owners and teams. The Chargers are interested in just how much the NFL wants to see a team in Los Angeles and wonder which team will move into the No. 2 market in the country. Minnesota, Indianapolis, New Orleans and more have all been tied to LA, including Al Davis and his Oakland Raiders. There will be presentations by two Los Angeles stadium groups, one involving improving the Rose Bowl and the other for a new stadium in Carson.

One thing in the Chargers favor for a new stadium deal in San Diego is The NFL will extend its system of using league funds as loans in future stadium deals. The successful "G-3'' program has helped numerous stadium projects around the league.

Several proposals have been put forth regarding overtime, adding teams to the playoff format, and instant replay challenges.

A Chiefs' proposal to give each team a possession will be presented. Last year, the NFL had a record 25 overtime games, ten of which were decided on the first possession.

The Chiefs also submitted a proposal to add a wild-card playoff team in each conference. The Patriots backed that proposal.

The Browns submitted a proposal to give head coaches extra instant replay challenges if their challenges were correct. Under the current replay rules, which run out at the end of the season, each team is allowed two coaching challenges.

None of these proposals has gained much steam and no decision will likely be made to affect the 2003 season. Rule changes are a long winded process that is as much political as it is about improving the game.

For example, the call for a change in overtime is sure to be contested by the NFLPA on how their players will have to be on the field longer.

Each change must be carefully considered and reviewed, even the good ones.

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