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American Football: NFL Keeps Replay

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posted on Mar, 30 2004 @ 02:41 PM
As expected, instant replay as an officiating aid will be around for another five seasons.

NFL owners voted 29-3 Tuesday in favor of retaining the system, with one amendment: If a team is successful on its first two challenges, it will get a third.

Under the previous rule for the past three seasons, a coach had only two challenges. If they were used up during the first half, coaches had no options if they didn't like a call made on the field.

Only once last season did a team have two successful challenges: the Carolina Panthers.

The Competition Committee recommended the third challenge so that coaches would be more liberal in challenging calls early in game. Committee co-chairman Rich McKay said the extra challenge wouldn't add a significant amount of time to games because members thought it wouldn't happen much.

The only downside for replay supporters is that they didn't get replay into the rules permanently.

The owners were given several proposals on instant replay, including one that would have made it permanent. They chose to go with the five-year option and the extra challenge.

"I think it's time for voting on it permanently," McKay said. "This rule has been tried and tested in our minds. I think we should be a league of permanent rules."

The committee's plan was to vote replay in permanently so if any "tweaks" in the system were needed, they could make them without fear of having replay eliminated from the game.

Replay officiating was in the final year of a three-year resolution.

The Colts, Bengals and Chiefs were the three teams that voted against replay. Bills owner Ralph Wilson, who voted against replay for the past nine years, challenged his vote in favor of keeping replay.

"I was against replay for nine years, but now I think replay is okay," Wilson said.

Several other rules changes will be voted on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Changing overtime to allow both teams a possession is unlikely to be approved. The competition committee doesn't favor it.

The committee also recommended instituting 15-yard penalties for choreographed celebrations and suggested some minor changes to the fair catch rule that will eliminate any returns by the receiving team once the signal is made.

An expansion of the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams won't be on the agenda after Kansas City withdrew the proposal. Although many coaches said they favor the idea, the Chiefs felt there wasn't enough support among the owners, and the competition committee was strongly opposed.

Concern about the disparity in cash flow between the 32 teams has been a main topic of the meetings. Steelers owner Dan Rooney, Buffalo's Ralph Wilson and Indianapolis' Jimmy Irsay expressed their concerns Monday.

"With our stadium and ticket pricing and market, we are 32nd out of 32," said Irsay, who went into his own pocket to pay a record $34.5 million signing bonus to quarterback Peyton Manning, last season's co-MVP. "There has to be some way to create a shift there, and it's the issue in the NFL right now, revenue sharing."

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue predicted renewal of the NFL Trust, through which teams share revenues from the sale of licensed merchandise. That amounts to about $4 million per team a year. Washington's Daniel Snyder and Dallas' Jerry Jones want to market their own products without cutting in others, although neither has indicated opposition to the NFL Trust. They do seek modifications.

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