Instant replay could get a second showing Tagliabue says system of limited challenges likely

January 24, 1998|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

SAN DIEGO -- Upon further review, commissioner Paul Tagliabue thinks instant replay may be returning next year.

At his annual Super Bowl news conference yesterday, Tagliabue said, "I think because of Mike's [Holmgren] leadership as co-chairman of the competition committee, there's a better than normal chance that instant replay would be be adopted this year."

He said it is likely the owners would install a coaches' challenge system in which a limited number of plays would be reviewed.

"If the committee members come back with that type of a proposal again, I would support it," he said.

Meanwhile, Holmgren, the Green Bay Packers coach, who is a big supporter of instant replay, said he won't put as much time into supporting replay as he did last year when it fell three votes shy.

"I'm not going to champion the cause as as I've done the last two years. It took a lot of time, and I was really disappointed it didn't get through last year. I will still be involved and I will not change my mind on instant replay. I'd like to see it reinstated," he said.

It would takes 23 votes to bring back replay, and the proposal got 20 last year. The key swing vote was cast by New York Jets coach Bill Parcells, who didn't like the proposal in which a team had to give up a timeout to challenge a play even if the challenge were upheld.

But Parcells' team was the victim of critical bad calls in games against Miami and Detroit, the latter a game that decided a playoff spot in the season's final week, and he might change his vote.

Al Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders, also voted against, as did Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Because Jones has said he wouldn't cast the deciding vote against it, it will probably pass if Parcells and Davis vote for it.

The league had replay from 1986 to 1991, with an official in the booth overturning plays, but it was unwieldy and delayed the game.

Under the new proposal, the plays would be reviewed on the field by the referee, and the challenge system would limit the number of calls to what Tagliabue called the "season-making type plays."

Tagliabue also dealt with a number of questions on the stadium issue. Since the league has just agreed to a $17.6 billion TV deal, he was asked why owners need public funding for stadiums.

Tagliabue said he still favored a "public-private partnership in stadiums" and said that new stadiums are a "very strong economic benefit," a contention that is disputed by many economists.

Another topic was the lack of minority hiring in the head coaching ranks. There are only three current head coaches that are minorities -- Tampa Bay's Tony Dungy, Minnesota's Dennis Green and Philadelphia's Ray Rhodes.

Even though there are 14 new head coaches over the past two years, but none a minority, Tagliabue said the league has made "real progress" on the issue.

"We've made diversity in hiring a priority in the past year. We've had very intensive discussions with many people in the league: owners, coaches, general managers and a leadership group of black coaches. This year is very different than last year, even though there's been far fewer openings in terms of the candidates interviewed, the candidates considered, the candidates given jobs," he said.

Tagliabue said Indianapolis had as its No. 1 candidate Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham, who decided not to leave the college ranks. Willingham wasn't offered the job but declined an interview after Michigan State's Nick Saban turned the job down.

Tagliabue said there have been more minority hires among the coordinators' ranks, such as Jimmy Raye of the Kansas City Chiefs.

He said he plans another meeting with minority coaches in February.

"I think when we have that meeting, we'll be able to say this year is very different than last year. I think we'll be able to show some real change compared to where we were a year ago."

When it was pointed out that several minority players spoke out about the situation this week, Tagliabue said: "I read some of the comments by players. I respect the comments they make, except that they're preoccupied with preparing to play the Super Bowl and in many instances they don't know what's going on in terms of interviews, candidates being considered and positions being offered. Once we're through this hiring season, I think people will recognize there's been a considerable amount of progress made."

Tagliabue noted that Sherman Lewis, the offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers, has expressed some frustration recently, but said that Brian Billick, the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, has also expressed frustration.

"One's black, one's white [Billick]. We're in a business where you have 400 or 500 people who regard themselves as extremely talented trying to get 30 jobs. There is going to be frustration. But I don't think that we're going to break down over time on racial lines," he said.

The Lewis and Billick situations are very different. Billick is frustrated because the Vikings won't let him out of the final year of his contract to take another assistant's job.

Tagliabue, meanwhile, said he plans to see a game in Baltimore's new stadium this fall. Tagliabue, who was viewed as an opponent of Baltimore's expansion effort, has yet to see a Ravens home game. He said he didn't go to many games last year because he had back problems.

Pub Date: 1/24/98

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