Owners Meetings Promise Changes

Starting Monday, the NFL owners will conduct their annual meeting to discuss the issues facing the league and rules changes that are being proposed. VU has received access to the agenda and some of the proposed changes could be sweeping if approved.

For the most part, the national media tends to ignore the annual NFL owners meeting (to be held Monday through Wednesday). But often times, the owners meetings are what create the biggest changes in the game, from approving expansion teams to creating rules.

This year will be no exception, as several issues will come to the table for discussion and possible approval. Topping the list is instant replay. After going for almost a decade on a year-to-year basis, replay was given a three-year life in 2001 and is up for discussion again. While some owners and coaches continue to oppose replay, it will likely get the chance to be added permanently. In a separate but similar issue, the challenge rule is expected to be modified -- allowing a coach a third challenge if both of his previous challenges were successful.

Another issue will address the growing problem of players and choreographed end zone celebrations. Terrell Owens got the ball rolling with his infamous Sharpie incident and Joe Horn took it to another level with his cell phone under the goal post schtick. The planned change is to penalize a team that has two or more players in a celebration or one player being a moron like T.O. or Horn would cost the offending team a 15-yard penalty. More than 50 players have been fined in celebratory incidents over the last two seasons and the feeling among the power brokers is that fines alone don't work.

The Chiefs will again bring two issues back to the table that were laid over last year -- altering overtime and expanding the playoffs. The overtime rule would ask that each team has two possessions in overtime and, if the game remains tied after that, revert to the current policy of sudden death. The playoff proposal would increase the number of teams from 12 to 14, meaning only the team with the best record in each conference would get a first-week playoff bye. Neither proposal is expected to get overwhelming support.

Other items on the agenda include expanding the practice squad by two players, discussion of tampering rules with teams talking to the assistant coaches of playoff teams, the status of the current TV contract (which expires after the 2005 season), a proposal from the players union to extend the current collective bargaining agreement and the status of Los Angeles as a relocation site for a struggling franchise.

There will be a lot of things to discuss and potentially some big changes coming. As always, VU will update the progress of the meetings and what decisions come down.

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