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American Football: Penalty Not fines

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Ben

posted on Mar, 25 2004 @ 07:43 AM
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The NFL discovered last season that fines did not necessarily stop its millionaire players from flamboyant celebrations.

So the league is planning to make any such demonstration an automatic 15-yard penalty.

“ This has nothing to do with the Lambeau leap, the spike, the sack dance or throwing the ball over the goal post. But the demonstrations are becoming more sophisticated and more pre-planned than they've ever been. That's why we focused on a penalty instead of just a fine. ”
— Falcons GM Rich McKay


The new penalty policy has been recommended unanimously by the league's competition committee and is likely to receive approval from the owners when they begin their annual spring meeting Sunday in Palm Beach, Fla.

"Don't call us the no fun league," Atlanta general manager Rich McKay, co-chairman of the league's competition committee, said Wednesday during a conference call. "This has nothing to do with the Lambeau leap, the spike, the sack dance or throwing the ball over the goal post. But the demonstrations are becoming more sophisticated and more pre-planned than they've ever been. That's why we focused on a penalty instead of just a fine."

As it has been for nearly 20 years, the longest discussions at the meetings will be over instant replay. The committee has recommended that it be installed permanently for the first time -- it has been put in from year-to-year until 2001, when it was extended to three years.

But the most interesting sign of the times is that the NFL now considers penalties more effective than fines in curbing demonstrations. There were 46 fines for demonstrations last season compared to 18 in 2002, indicating to McKay and the committee that fines were not a deterrent.

The new penalties would be added to those for taunting.

After Terrell Owens celebrated a score by pulling a pen from his sock and signing a football in 2002, commissioner Paul Tagliabue made it clear such future demonstrations would be penalized. And the officials did call a penalty last season when Joe Horn made a call on a cell phone after scoring a touchdown.

But the recommendation would add the demonstration penalty to the rule book. McKay said it was prompted in part by letters from the NCAA and national high school associations worried that the conduct of NFL players set bad examples.

As for replay, it was first instituted in 1986, voted out in 1992, then brought back in 1999 in its current form -- with the coaches' challenge system.

The new proposal would make it permanent -- instead of needing 24 of the 32 teams to approve it each year, it would require 24 votes to vote it out. The competition committee also is recommending that any coach who gets two successful challenges in a game get one more.

"We think it's ready to go in permanently," McKay said of replay. "We've been voting on it for 20 years now. This way we won't have to vote on it anymore."

Among the other items to be discussed at the meetings will be expanding the playoffs to 14 teams and allowing both teams to get a possession in overtime.

The committee voted against both -- McKay noted that the number of overtime games decided on the first possession had declined from 36 percent in 2002 to 23 percent in 2004. He also noted that adding two more teams to the playoffs would give the No. 1 team an unfair advantage by getting the only bye.

"We feel like the current system has worked extremely well," McKay said.

The committee also decided not to expand the rule that limits assistant coaches on playoff teams to interview for head coaching jobs during bye weeks. It did recommend, however, that the same rule apply to top executives, who in the past could change jobs at any time.




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