Goodell to Get Tough at Next Week’s League Meetings

With next week’s NFL league meetings approaching in Phoenix, Arizona, I wanted to take a moment to salute NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The Commish, who has established a tough hands-on approach in less than a year in office, is agitated about the NFL’s recent off the field image due to player misconduct and he is now taking steps to make significant changes in the leagues personal conduct policies next week. He and NFLPA head player rep Troy Vincent are stepping up their efforts to make these changes, because they and everyone else know that the league is the number #1 sports entity in existence today in terms of popularity and television and they want to keep it that way. Remember the NFL is not the NBA for goodness sakes and we want to keep it that way. I definitely believe Goodell, Vincent, and the overwhelming group of “good” players will take the necessary steps needed to teach violators like Titans Corner Adam “Pacman” Jones, the “jailblazing” Cincinnati Bengals (9 offenses in 2006) and other players that have run amuck that enough is enough. Forget the hard to document and rule on “3 Strikes and your out” proposal, let the Commissioner, NFLPA, and the active players decide collectively on how to curb these “black-eye” episodes.

It was reported on that the “Big Man” is even considering slapping Jones with a yearlong suspension after his latest run-in with the law at a Las Vegas strip club during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend (I bet you are listening now PACMAN). Rich Mc-Kay, Falcons GM and co-chairman of the league’s competition committee offered his views when he said “The players we met with in Indianapolis were very interested, as was the union, in pursuing a modification to our current policy”. He added, “We’re all concerned with the things that go on off the field and how the actions of a few may affect many (players)”.

Along with toughening the Personal Conduct Policy, owners and league executives will also being addressing some others league issues and rules at the meetings.

  • Revenue Sharing – This issue stems from the CBA signing last year. The owners agreed to expanded revenue sharing with the NFL’s richest franchises feeding a pool funds to help out the poorest ones. A committee of eight owners and league executives was formed to come up with qualifiers to help determine who deserves revenue help and how much they should get.
  • Competition Rulings – The competition committee will present several rule-change proposals to the ownership for a vote.
    • Moving overtime kickoffs from the 30- to the 35-yard line (Since 1998 the team that has won the coin toss in overtime has won nearly 63 percent of the games)
    • Allowing a defensive player to wear a radio helmet identical to the one quarterbacks use.
    • A 5-yard penalty for spiking or throwing the ball on the field of play. With end-zone spikes after touchdowns still allowed
    • The permanent adoption of instant replay. The league approved it for 5 years in 2004. By adopting it permanently, the league could invest money to buy and refurbish all of its instant-replay equipment including going high-definition.
    • A revision of the injury-reporting system – The “ Patriot Rule”: They have been the worst offenders among teams turning in current injury reports, often listing as many as 30 players as “questionable” on their weekly injury list. The proposal would have teams just give a practice status for injured players on Wednesday and Thursday and not list them as probable, questionable, doubtful or out until Friday.
    • The competition committee also will propose a second interview window for coaches during the playoffs. Today, a team with a head-coaching vacancy can interview a playoff assistant only before its first postseason game, then not again until the candidate’s team is out of the playoffs. The new proposal would permit a second interview after the conference championship games and before the Super Bowl.

    Lloyd’s Leftovers

    • Vote of Confidence for Upshaw – Gene Upshaw was unanimously reelected for his ninth consecutive three-year term as executive director of the NFL Players Association by a 62-member board of player representatives, meeting in Wailea, Hawaii. Upshaw, 61, was first elected to the position in 1982 after his playing career ended. Now please get to work on keeping the retirees happy. The piece I saw on HBO Real Sports broke my heart, because these guys paved the way for today’s players and some have serious medical issues that they are fighting.
    • Welcome Back Big Red – Eagles head coach Andy Reid will resume his duties on March 23rd after taking an NFL coaching first non-medical leave of absence last month to deal with the aftermath of his sons’ arrests. Reid did the right thing in getting his “family business” straight and dealing with his son’s issues stemming from separate traffic incidents on January 30th.  Reid missed the NFL scouting combine which was no big deal, because he met or spoke on the phone with his staff regularly during his hiatus. I just ask that the big guy address the linebacking position when he gets a chance.
    • Falcons Cash in their Chip – The Falcons are finally shipping backup quarterback Matt Schaub to the Houston Texans. Atlanta and Houston will flip-flop first-round picks in the 2007 NFL Draft with Atlanta moving from # 10 to #8. They also will receive the Texans’ second-round picks in 2007 and 2008. I love this deal because everyone knew that the Falcons and their owner were not getting rid of mercurial, but enigmatic starting quarterback Michael Vick. Kudos to GM Rich McKay for finding a willing partner to “fleece” into taking a spare part player. They were going to lose Schaub after the 2007 season anyway, because he currently was signed to a 1 year restricted free agent deal and they would had have to “franchise” him in order to keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent after the season. The Texans then signed Schaub to a six-year, $48 million deal thus basically ending their relationship with former #1 draft pick David Carr.  The Texans say they will try to trade Carr, but I doubt teams will give more than a 6th or 7th round pick due to his large contract.  The Texans can thank former GM Charlie Casserly for re-signing Carr to such a large deal last year which included an 8 Million Dollar signing bonus.