2008 NFL Spring Meetings Recap

(Philadelphia, Pa) — Of course everyone heard the “big news” coming out of the NFL Spring Meetings regarding NFL owners opting out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), Rookies learning the history of the game at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and most importantly the proposed NFL Hair Policy taking a backseat.

But there was much more news that needs to be decimated to the masses.

Indianapolis awarded 2012 Super Bowl – The biggest winner from the Spring Meetings in Atlanta, GA was the city of Indianapolis.  With the opening of 700 Million Dollar Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts state of the art palace will be on display in February 2012 while hosting Super Bowl XLVI.  The new retractable-roof stadium beat out Houston and Arizona for the game. Indianapolis joins Detroit (1982, 2006) and Minneapolis (1992) as the only cold weather areas to host the Super Bowl extravaganza.  The next four Super Bowls will be 2009 in Tampa, FL – Super Bowl XLIII, 2010 in South Florida – Super Bowl XLIV, 2011 in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX – Super Bowl XLV, and 2012 in Indianapolis, IN – Super Bowl XLVI

The Commish to now make teams responsible for misconduct – We already knew NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell cracked down on malcontent players like Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson, and Michael Vick, but now teams — lookout Bengals – will also be held accountable for player offenses.  The exact particulars need to be worked out, but look for fines and possibly draft picks to come into play.  Goodell said about the new policy, “We want to continue to emphasize personal conduct and personal responsibility”.  He added, “One way to do it is to hold teams responsible for the conduct of their players.  BTW:  Is the misconduct policy even working as there were a reported 26 players being arrested or cited since the Super Bowl this year versus 27 players at the same time last year.

Behave yourselves at games fans – Though poor fan conduct is really an individual team/stadium issue, the NFL will now provide guidelines and a helping hand.  The NFL will work teams to ensure that every fan enjoys games responsibly.  I am sure there will not be a “jail” in each stadium as was the case in Philadelphia’s old Veteran’s Stadium.  But look for a more family friendly environment.  Goodell said of fan conduct, “First of all, it’s very possible, and likely, that people can come to a game and enjoy alcoholic beverages or beer and do it very responsibly. What we don’t want is there to be abusive behavior. That includes foul language; that includes disrupting other people who are there to enjoy the game. We’re just saying, come and enjoy yourself, but don’t ruin it for others”.  BTW: Watch out for Commissioner Goodell at stadiums as he attended a game in Foxborough last year incognito with his 13-year-old niece.

Surprise, Surprise the NFL says enough with Spygate – Commissioner Roger Goodell announced to the media that the league has no plans to conduct an independent investigation of the Patriots’ videotaping procedures at this time (Shocker). The NFL teams and commissioner both believe that the league’s investigation was thorough enough and that no new information was gained from the Matt Walsh interview. Goodell when asked if he had plans to talk with Senator Arlen Specter about spygate, gave the terse answer of “Nope”.  I know opposing teams’ fans will also be glad to hear that the Pats got a pass on scalping Super Bowl tickets and allowing a player to practice while on injured reserve with Goodell saying “No” when asked about any actions for these offenses.

More international players – Even though the defunct NFL Europa was a rousing flop and there have been little internationally trained players in the NFL, there was a move to help get more players from abroad.  The NFL agreed to expand the league’s International Practice Squad Program – did anyone know this program is in its fifth year – to 16 players joining the NFL practice squads.

Could the final week of pre-season games be in jeopardy, oh darn – With fans everywhere screaming about playing full price for players that will be cut the next day, the NFL is considering adding a 17th regular-season game in place of the fourth preseason game.  The move would obviously help the “cash-strapped” owners coffers as regular season revenues (parking, game day promotions, television money, etc) are paramount.  Commissioner Goodell said of the proposition, “We actually are looking at”.  Strangely after meeting with the owners, Goodell came out talking about the “journey” in the NFL offseason and seemed to forget about just getting rid of the meaningless 4th week of pre-season games…. Stay tuned.

NFL looking for ways to recoup signing bonuses – With all eyes on the upcoming appeal to the Michael Vick signing bonus case – the jailed former Falcons quarterback was allowed to keep $16.5 Million dollars of his previously paid $20 Million dollar signing bonus, with the NFL appealing – the league may be looking to make changes in the CBA for this issue.  Goodell said, “It’s probably highlighted in a large part by the Michael Vick issue. There are other cases such as Ashley Lelie and others. In the Michael Vick case, he’s not able to play football and as such he got a significant signing bonus and we are not able to recover that. That’s money that could be going to players who are playing the game right now. So we think that there are some adjustments there that need to be made that are beneficial to the veteran players, frankly”.

 Will there be a team in L.A anytime soon?? – During the meetings the new ownership group of the St. Louis Rams denied a report that the team was going back to Los Angeles.  I am sure the NFL drools as it looks at the large television market just waiting to be filled.  With the Colts getting their new stadium this year, you can cross them off the list leaving the Saints, Vikings, Bills, Rams, and Jaguars as possible target for the West Coast.   Goodell said of the idea of a team in L.A amidst the owners opting out, “Uncertainty is never a great thing. So you have that and it could affect the potential for us to get a team in Los Angeles. It could affect the potential for additional revenue streams through television. It can have that impact. I hope it won’t. I hope that we’ll be able to reach that agreement. But there is that potential”.

NFL to honor a couple special golden anniversaries in 2008 – The 50th anniversary of the ’58 Championship Game (“The Best Game Ever” as some say with the Baltimore Colts producing a 23-17 overtime thrilling win over the New York Giants before a historic national television audience) and the 50th anniversary of the AFL (the innovative rival football league that made the NFL an ‘institution’ with their historic merger in 1969).

Proposal by Competition Committee regarding anti-tampering rule (i.e. free agency head start rule) – Goodell said, “We did discuss that. The Competition Committee has met on that a couple of times. We’ll continue to discuss that. As you know, that’s really not an issue in the next several months. We’ll raise it again by October. We need to do some additional work on that”.

 Playoff Re-Seeding and Expanding Roster were not discussed at the meetings.

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer/Analyst for Taking It to the House – NFL Insider Blog, BIGPLAY Football, and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)