National Football League team owners, who meet today and Wednesday in New York to consider their usual fall agenda of minor housekeeping details, could come out of the sessions with one major rules change -- the use of instant replay to oversee officials' decisions.
NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle said last weekend that the use of instant replay, tried on an experimental basis during the preseason, might be approved for use during this season's playoffs. Its principal proponent is Tex Schramm, president of the Dallas Cowboys and chairman of the league's competition committee, which oversees rules changes. The vote likely will be Wednesday.
"I don't have a firm feeling about its chances," Rozelle said. "I know that Tex and some others are enthusiastic supporters. But there are some people pretty strongly against it."
If approved, the instant replay would be used only on possession or out-of-bounds calls, not on penalties. An official would be stationed in a booth with a monitor on which, league officials say, he could call for replays right after any play without halting the action.
The executives also are expected to vote on the Detroit Lions' proposal to expand the rosters, which were reduced from 49 to 45 players before this season. Among other issues, 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. will introduce a proposal that would allow corporate ownership of teams. DeBartolo said it would mean a great deal of savings in taxes, and he would like to transfer ownership of the 49ers from himself to the DeBartolo Corporation . . .
Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka, 45, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol early yesterday a few minutes after the team returned to Chicago from its victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The arrest prompted irate Bears fans to flood state police with calls of protest.
Ditka was arrested about two miles north of O'Hare International Airport. He posted $100 collateral and relinquished his driver's license; trial was set for Nov. 8. "I have no animosity towards anybody," Ditka said. "I'm in complete agreement with our state police. I understand their job, and I have great respect for them."
State police had been fielding calls from angry Bears fans all day. One indignant caller told state police Ditka was "the best thing that has ever happened to Chicago," said Illinois State Police Trooper Sandra Mosley. Trooper Louis Jurkowlaniec said three charges were placed against Ditka: speeding, improper lane usage and driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor. Ditka, who was alone in the car, refused to take a breathalyzer test at a state police station, Jurkowlaniec said . . .
Atlanta Coach Dan Henning's job is secure until the end of the season despite the Falcons' 0-6 start, said Rankin Smith Jr., president of the NFL club. "I don't think it would serve any purpose to make a change in midseason," Smith said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal. " . . . There's nobody out there anyway. Who's going to come in and do anything for you, anyway?"