Owners might vote next week on change to NFL’s instant replay system

NFL officials might be able to consult with the league office on instant replay rulings next season (Photo by the Associated Press)

NFL officials might be able to consult with the league office on instant replay rulings next season (Photo by the Associated Press)

The NFL’s team owners likely will consider a change to the sport’s instant replay system at next week’s annual league meeting.

The owners could vote on a proposal next week that would enable the referee to be in contact with members of the league office during in-game replay reviews, according to several people familiar with the deliberations.

The NFL might experiment with a longer extra point during a week of preseason games but no change to the extra point is expected for the 2014 regular season, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the recommendations to be made to the owners had not been finalized yet.

Those people called it likely that the league will expand the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams beginning in the 2015 season but said that, as of Monday, there was no formal proposal on that to be presented to the owners next week so no vote is currently planned for then.

The league’s proposed ban on the use of racial slurs by players during games remains likely to be enacted using existing rules covering unsportsmanlike conduct rather than via a formal rule change, according to those people with knowledge of the situation.

The owners are scheduled to meet next week in Orlando. Formal rule changes proposed by the sport’s competition committee must be ratified by at least 24 of the 32 owners to be implemented.

The likely proposal to the replay system would enable the referee to receive guidance from members of the league office in New York before making a ruling on a review. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell previously has mentioned the possibility of allowing the league office to be involved in replay rulings and the competition committee has been studying the issue.

The competition committee also has been looking at the possibility of making the extra point a longer kick, perhaps with the ball being placed at the 20- or 25-yard line for the snap, to add some unpredictability to a play that has become virtually automatic. That might be tried during a preseason game but one person with knowledge of the deliberations said there won’t be a change to the extra point considered for the regular season yet.

That person called it inevitable that the league will add one playoff team in each conference for the 2015 season. But the measure to expand the playoff field might not be put to a formal vote of the owners next week, according to that person.

“I think it’s pretty safe to assume it’s coming,” that person said. “There’s a lot of support for it. As of right now, I don’t think there’s a specific proposal on the table for there to be a vote [next week]. It could come up with the [competition] committee saying there are no competitive issues and a TV report.”

The measure would have seven teams in each conference qualifying for the postseason instead of the current six. One team in each conference would receive a first-round playoff bye rather than the current two. There would be six first-round playoff games league-wide instead of four, generating additional TV revenues for the sport, and at least one first-round postseason game could be played on a Monday night.

The league has been studying implementing a ban on racial slurs during games at the behest of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, the diversity group that works closely with the NFL on hiring issues. League leaders continue to believe that no formal rule change is required to enact such a ban because officials already can penalize such behavior with a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, those people familiar with the deliberations on the matter said.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance brought attention to the issue after it accused Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams of directing a racial slur at an official during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles last season. Williams denied the accusation.

 

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