Instant Replay gets a longer look

NFL owners still aren't married to instant replay, but they are willing to extend the engagement.<P> Use of instant replay by officials will remain a part of the game for at least five more years, after a vote by the owners during meetings Tuesday, the league announced.<P>

Owners stopped short of approving the NFL's Competition Committee recommendation to make replay permanent. A vote of 29-3 kept the use of replay for five seasons. Dissenting votes were cast by Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Kansas City.

A twist was added as well. If the first two replay challenges called for by a coach prove him correct, his team will be awarded a third replay challenge. During the 2003 campaign, that "bonus" replay would have applied only once. Carolina Panthers' coach John Fox won both his challenges Nov. 2 vs. Houston.

The five-year term marks a gradual acceptance of instant replay by the owners. Originally, it was voted on each year. Then a three-year term was approved, expiring after the 2003 season.

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