NFL Owners Talk Player Safety, Shorter Games In Phoenix

For the first part of this week the NFL Owners will get together in Phoenix for what they call the “Annual Meeting.” It’s the only time each year all 32 Owners, GM’s, Presidents, Coaches and executives get together to talk about immediate changes to improve the game and look to the future of the game on and off the field.

Immediately, the owners will consider the Raiders move to Las Vegas. The move takes 24 of the 32 owners approval and it seems likely to be passed. Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson withdrew his financial support for the stadium in Nevada but Mark Davis of the Raiders secured enough money from Bank of America to get the stadium built. The proposal is for a $1.9 billion facility for the Raiders in Las Vegas but there are still many questions unanswered regarding the financing of the construction. The Jaguars believe the move is a done deal.

Going “under the hood” to look at replays might become a thing of the past after these meetings. The league is trying to have Dean Blandino, the head of officiating in the NFL make all of the final calls on replay from New York. The referee on the field will see replays on a tablet. They’re hoping this makes the whole replay process faster and more consistent.

As we’ve always seen in the league, when the rules are changed, head coaches and coordinators figure out a way around them. When they moved defensive players off the long snapper, teams started sending a “leaper” from the side, trying to block a kick. There’s already a rule that a player can’t use other players as leverage to jump over the line of scrimmage. The owners will hear a proposal to completely eliminate “leaping” all together. Player safety is the goal by changing the rule.

That’s the same goal with the proposal for a 10-minute overtime instead of 15. Yes, that might mean more tie games, but a team playing a 5-quarter game on Sunday is pretty worn out if they’re scheduled for a Thursday game that week.

Among the proposals that will get a chuckle are some that will give the officials more leeway on celebration penalties. There’s a video that will be shown to the “membership.” There’s also a proposal by the Redskins that if the kickoff goes through the uprights, the ball is placed on the 20 instead of the current 25-yard line for touchbacks.

There will be plenty of talk about replay at these meetings, as there always is. Some teams want more, some want less. All agree that the process needs to be shorter and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has already announced a change in the commercial break structure around touchdowns and kickoffs in an effort to shorten the games.

One proposal that will no doubt have the support of Jaguars fans: Teams would be able to wear their regular uniforms instead of the “color rush” uni’s Nike has them wearing on Thursday night. Not a lot of support in Jacksonville for that mustard color head to toe.