NFL blocks out coaches, goes for two

March 23, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

ORLANDO, FLA — ORLANDO, Fla. -- The NFL owners figured out an easy way to pass a package of rules yesterday designed to boost offense, including the two-point conversion.

They simply locked the coaches out of the room to squelch debate, then quickly passed three proposals.

By a 23-4 vote, they passed the two-point conversion with the ball placed on the 2-yard line instead of the 3, the way the colleges do.

By a 24-3 vote, they passed a rule pushing kickoffs back to the 30-yard line and banned kickers from using more than a 1-inch tee. In the past, they had been allowed to use 3-inch tees.

By a 25-2 vote, they decided that when a team misses a field-goal attempt, the opposing team will get the ball from the spot where the ball was kicked rather than the line of scrimmage.

The way the NFL pulled off the vote caused as much talk as the new rules. "I would have loved to express my opinion," New York Giants coach Dan Reeves said after the coaches were barred from the meeting room when the rules were passed. Each team was allowed to be represented only by its owner.

The Washington Redskins, who often object to the way the league conducts its business, also complained about the coaches being excluded and voted against all three proposals.

General manager Charley Casserly said that John Kent Cooke, the team's executive vice president and son of team owner Jack Kent Cooke, objected during the meeting that the coaches weren't allowed in during the discussion. Cooke declined to comment.

The Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions joined the Redskins with negative votes. The San Diego Chargers didn't attend.

The bottom line is that the owners had the votes to pass the measures. After being bogged down for two days in debate over the sale of the Miami Dolphins to owner H. Wayne Huizenga without reaching a decision, they didn't want to spend a lot of time debating the two-point conversion.

"We're in the news-making business," said one owner. He said the owners didn't want to go through a second straight day of the meetings without doing anything newsworthy.

Reeves objected to the notion that the league needs to improve the offense's ability to score touchdowns because 24.1 percent of the points were scored on field goals last year.

"To me, the public could care less about how many points are scored. They like to see exciting games. But you open up the possibility of being one-sided when you start talking about offenses dominating a game."

But concerning the two-point conversion, Reeves appeared to be in theminority. Most coaches don't think it will be used that often.

Even though the Redskins voted no, new coach Norv Turner said: "My feeling is that it's not going to make a whole lot of difference."

The two-point conversion will make a difference when a team is trailing by eight points in the fourth quarter. But coaches aren't likely to go for two at the end of the game in an attempt to win if they're trailing by a point when they can kick an extra point to tie and force overtime.

Denver Broncos coach Wade Phillips said: "I can't imagine any coach going for two to win the game when you've got a 99.9 percent chance oftying the game and less than a 50 percent chance of winning."

NOTES: Because they were unable to break the cross-ownership stalemate, the owners will hold a special meeting next month to discuss changing the league's ownership policy, allowing owners to own major-league teams in other sports. But they're still discussing an interim solution that would allow Huizenga's purchase of the Dolphins to be approved even though he already owns the NHL's Florida Panthers and baseball's Florida Marlins. . . . The league approved the change of the name of the Cardinals from Phoenix to Arizona.

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