Tagliabue chides misuse of cap by Ravens types Instant replay one vote from rejection by owners

March 11, 1997|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

PALM DESERT, Calif. -- In a presentation to the NFL owners yesterday, the Ravens' past spending habits were used as an example of how teams shouldn't handle the salary cap.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue didn't mention the Ravens by name, but said, "There were some examples given today of people who've done foolish kinds of contracts, front-loading, back-loading, voidables where they're [being charged] $7 or $8 million of $41 million of cap room for players who are no longer playing," he said.

"So people who thought they could outsmart the system, I think are learning you can't."

Tagliabue said the point of the presentation was "to inject a little dose of realism in an otherwise optimistic group of owners who all think they're going to go to the Super Bowl next year."

The Ravens are being charged almost $7 million against this year's salary cap for players who have departed, including $3 million for wide receiver Andre Rison.

Those contracts were negotiated by the old regime of coach Bill Belichick and former personnel chief Mike Lombardi, who didn't make the trip when the team moved from Cleveland.

Another team in a similar situation is the Miami Dolphins. Jimmy Johnson is paying the price for the contracts negotiated by former coach Don Shula.

The Ravens are now being much more cautious in their spending.

Even though new TV contracts will be negotiated next year, the cap isn't likely to take a big jump because the first $4 million per team of increase will be charged as a bookkeeping expense for past spending.

If the TV contracts go up 28 percent, the cap of $41.4 million would go up only 3 percent.

Split in instant replay

The owners started to debate instant replay yesterday and will vote on it today.

Under the proposal being debated, a team would be allowed only two challenges a game and would have to use a timeout for a challenge even if it were upheld.

The idea is to sell the proposal to replay opponents who feel it delays the game.

But it's largely a proposal favored by coaches. The only three members of the seven-man competition committee in favor of it are coaches Mike Holmgren of Green Bay, Bill Cowher of Pittsburgh and Dennis Green of Minnesota. Club officials George Young of the New York Giants, Rich McKay of Tampa, Mike Brown of Cincinnati, and Jerry Jones of Dallas -- opposed it.

"There's a continuing philosophical split," conceded Tagliabue. "It fuels a good debate."

There are seven teams opposed and it takes only eight no votes to kill it.

Hiring rules examined

When Tagliabue was asked if the league was embarrassed because 11 new coaches were hired and none was a minority, he said, "I'm not embarrassed. We're working on it. We are looking at some institutional issues including postseason tampering rules."

No change in schedule

Despite all the complaints about the four-game exhibition schedule, Tagliabue said the league has no plans to cut it to two games and increase the regular season to 18 games.

Cleveland won't need vote

If no team wants to move to Cleveland by 1999, the city will be awarded an expansion team without a vote of the owners, Tagliabue said.

That could leave 31 teams because the owners aren't likely to vote to expand to any other city unless Los Angeles builds a stadium.

Pub Date: 3/11/97

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