Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder said today he was encouraged by the response to the presentation he made Wednesday for a Washington Super Bowl in 2008, but a number of owners said they also were extremely impressed by New York's pitch, which would be held at a refurbished Giants Stadium.
As the two-day owners meeting broke up, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced he had formed a committee headed by Pittsburgh owner Dan Rooney to explore avenues to increase minority hiring in head coaching and top front-office positions. The league also released new and later starting times for its postseason playoff schedule, including the first AFC title game scheduled for prime time at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19 (see box for schedule).
"There is a very pro-New York sentiment from the ownership," Dallas owner Jerry Jones said. "New York brings so much to the table as far as the NFL is concerned."
But shortly before heading back to Washington, Snyder said, "The sentiment is shifting toward doing a cold-weather Super Bowl city. Hopefully, that means we've got a really good opportunity for Washington in 2008. Our presentation was well-received. A lot of people told me they were impressed with the size of the stadium. We can get it to 92,000-plus seats."
Giants Stadium will remain at its 80,000-seat capacity, but owners were impressed with New York's plan to generate as much as $500 million in economic benefits for the city with virtually a six-month celebration of pro football from opening day of the 2007 season to its championship game in February 2008.
"I don't think there were any negative feelings about having a Super Bowl in New York," said Pat Bowlen, the Denver owner. "I think it's a good idea."
Several owners said privately they felt a Washington Super Bowl also had great merit, and that it remains possible both cities eventually would get a game, with New York likely going first.
Tagliabue insisted that was not necessarily the case. "Both cities see this is as 'We're in the first half of the game, and we've scored some points in this meeting,' " he said. "But they've also played enough games to know that they haven't won yet. Both cities are now on an equal path."
On the minority hiring front, the NFL's newest committee will be chaired by Rooney as chairman and owners Jeff Lurie of Philadelphia, Arthur Blank of Atlanta, Stan Kroenke of St. Louis and Bowlen.
Tagliabue also appointed a working committee of senior club executives to work with Rooney's panel. Its members include Tampa Bay General Manager Rich McKay, Baltimore Vice President of Personnel Ozzie Newsome, Indianapolis team president Bill Polian, Jets General Manager Terry Bradway and Atlanta executive vice president Ray Anderson. Newsome and Anderson are among the highest-ranking minority team executives in the league.
With two black head coaches (Tony Dungy in Indianapolis and Herman Edwards with the New York Jets) in a league that includes 70 percent minority players, the NFL again has come under scrutiny for teams' hiring practices. In September, attorneys Cyrus Mehri and Johnnie Cochran threatened litigation unless the league adds more minority coaches and adapts mechanisms designed to assure diverse lists of candidates for vacancies in the coaching and front office ranks. Mehri met with NFL officials here last week.
"This is a very positive development," Mehri said. "We're impressed by the caliber of the committee and the working group members. We'll be watching this very closely as it develops and welcome the chance to be involved."
Rooney said he will hold the first committee meeting within the next two weeks. He indicated he was willing to speak with Mehri and or Cochran, but that the committee will make its recommendations based on input from a variety of resources.
"I'll talk to anyone who has good ideas," Rooney said. "As for talking to [Cochran and Mehri], I'll be happy to talk to them any time."