NFL owners vote to make replay permanent

PHOENIX -- Replay is here to stay in the NFL.
Or at least as permanently as any rule can be in pro football.

League owners voted 30-2 on Tuesday to make the video replay
system a permanent officiating tool. All but three stadiums will be
equipped with high-definition equipment and will be recabled before
the upcoming season, at a cost of as much as $300,000 per club. The
stadiums being replaced in Irving, Texas, Indianapolis and East
Rutherford, N.J., will not get the updates.

"It's a long time coming," said Atlanta Falcons general
manager Rich McKay, co-chairman of the competition committee that
recommended the change. "It made sense to us this year to do it.
Instant replay is an accepted part of the game. It's what we are.
There was not really much discussion about it."

Cincinnati and Arizona voted against the proposal, as they
nearly always do on replay issues.

The owners also voted unanimously to allow a second interviewing
window for assistant coaches on Super Bowl teams who are in the
running for other head coaching jobs. Previously, only during the
week after the season ended could an interview be conducted.

The coach's current team would have to grant permission for the
second interview, which would take place during the bye week after
the conference title games.

"We wanted to make sure that coaches on Super Bowl teams didn't
feel it was a disadvantage," McKay said.

One proposal was defeated. Defenses will not be allowed to have
a coach-to-player communications device similar to what
quarterbacks use. McKay said owners and coaches were concerned
about who would be allowed to wear the device with defenses using
multiple formations, and the possibility that more than one player
could wind up on the field with such a device.

"Conceivably, we'll bring it up again," McKay said. "We
haven't seen its last discussion."

San Francisco withdrew its proposal to make defensive pass
interference either a 15-yard penalty or a spot foul, depending on
the severity of the infraction.

McKay was not optimistic that the recommendation to move the
kickoff for overtime from the 30-yard line to the 35 would pass
Wednesday. He said some people were concerned about the effect on
the return game, and that a group of owners would favor a mandatory
two-possession overtime in which each team gets the ball once.

That has not been proposed, however. Nor has any system similar
to the college overtimes, or a continuation of the game from where
it ended after four quarters.

"I'm bothered by the stats with respect to overtime," McKay
said, citing a significant spike since 1997 in how many teams won
overtime games after also winning the coin toss. That percentage
went from 55.9 from 1994-97 to 64.6 for the next four seasons. And
after it dropped to 60 percent for 2002-05, it went up to 63.6 last

"We're a league that tries to balance the field and clearly the
field is not balanced with respect to overtime with the kickoff."

The owners also will vote on Tampa Bay's proposal to use instant
replay for all penalties except holding; increasing the number of
players suited up for games from 45 to 47; and instituting 5-yard
penalties for players who spike the ball on the field of play.
Spikes in the end zone after scores would be allowed.