Proposal to owners: Order unstable players off field
PHOENIX — Millions of viewers and thousands of fans saw a wobbly Julian Edelman remain in the Super Bowl.
After looking at video of that situation and several similar ones, the NFL's powerful competition committee is proposing a change.
NFL owners are considering a proposal to stop games when a medical adviser sees a player displaying obvious signs of disorientation.
The suggestion was a late addition by the committee at the owners' meetings that began Monday. It would allow a medical spotter upstairs to communicate with the officiating crew when a player appears unstable.
The game would be halted to remove the player, who then would undergo sideline examination at the very least.
"We got the (medical) spotters, they've got a really good vantage point, they've got technology in their booth, they're communicating pretty well with our trainers and doctors and we've got a pretty good rhythm going there," Rich McKay, co-chairman of the committee and president of the Atlanta Falcons, said.
"Why would we miss a play where a player should have come out of the game?"
The player's team would be allowed to substitute for him, and the opposite team also would be given a chance to change personnel.
That is one of two dozen proposals and rules changes being considered by the owners in a busy agenda.
Other suggested changes include using instant replay for reviewing all penalties called by game officials, yes, pass interference and holding calls, too; all personal fouls; penalties against defenseless players; any foul that results in an automatic first down; and clock issues.
New England even proposed that everything except scoring plays or turnovers be challengeable, and Washington suggested increasing a coach's number of challenges from two to three, regardless of whether he is successful on an early challenge.
Owners will vote on some of the proposals in the next two days, with several likely being tabled until the next major meetings in May.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher explained why the competition committee does not endorse using replay for penalties.
"The committee's position for years has been to oppose involving fouls in replay for a lot of different reasons," he said. "We've looked at a lot of tape this offseason, we looked at the fouls particularly relating to hits on defenseless players. We had 27 of them this year, we looked at them as a group. We could not agree on a number of them.
"That's just the nature of the standard in replay."
Fisher added that the league's officiating department will review fouls on a Monday and can take "20-30 minutes, maybe an hour, to determine whether it was in fact a foul. So you can see the issues that we're going to have if we involve those things in replay."
— The league eliminated local TV blackouts of games for next season.
There were no blackouts last season, because the minimum number of tickets, by NFL sellout standards, was sold for every game, and the league had only two blackouts in 2013.
— The Oct. 25 game in London between Buffalo and Jacksonville will be streamed live internationally. The experiment, which will start at 9:30 a.m. ET, means the game won't be shown on television outside of the local teams' markets.
— Foreign sites are being considered for the Pro Bowl.
Next year's game will be played in Honolulu. Beyond that, just about anywhere seems to be in play.