Super Bowl here? Still talking League 'open-minded' about Baltimore's bid

NFL meetings notebook

March 25, 1998|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The NFL's Super Bowl committee met yesterday and agreed at least to continue to talk about Baltimore's bid to hold a Super Bowl.

"I'm open-minded," said Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, a member of the committee. "I'd consider any place that has a great new stadium."

But the Baltimore bid isn't beyond the talking stage yet.

The committee's main business was to narrow the field of finalists for the 2002 Super Bowl to New Orleans and San Diego, which held this year's game.

League president Neal Austrian will make a report to the owners today, although no vote is expected at this meeting.

It's uncertain when or if Baltimore will get serious consideration, although Maryland Stadium Authority chairman John Moag will continue to push the city's bid.

He met with the committee last November along with James T. Brady, the Maryland secretary of business and economic development, and Carroll Armstrong, president and chief executive officer of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association.

Moag's pitch is that the league should honor its roots by playing the game in a cold-weather outdoor site and also reward a city that gave the NFL a stadium funded with taxpayer money.

Moag said from his Baltimore office: "It's encouraging to hear the owners' comments. It's encouraging to hear they continue to take us seriously."

Weather, though, remains a major consideration. The league dodged a bullet last January, when the weather was good in San Diego during Super Bowl week, despite El Nino.

Jim Steeg, who runs the Super Bowl operation for the league, said: "Everybody who came back from San Diego all of a sudden realizes that weather is the key to everything."

Steeg has accepted Moag's invitation to visit Baltimore this spring.

Ravens close in on lineman

Ozzie Newsome, Ravens vice president of player personnel, said he's moving closer to signing offensive lineman James Atkins, who would be a backup tackle and guard.

Atkins was waived by the Seattle Seahawks at the end of last season.

Atkins lost his starting job when the Seahawks drafted tackle Walter Jones on the first round last year, then was tried at guard. He started at guard against the Ravens and wasn't that effective, but Newsome said he likes what he sees of him on the videotape. Besides being a backup tackle behind Jonathan Ogden and Orlando Brown, he'd be one of several players, including Ben Cavil, who'd compete for a starting guard job to replace Leo Goeas, who was waived.

TV still loves Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys went 6-10 last year, but have lost none of their mystique.

The league announced an 11-game exhibition game schedule on national television, and the Cowboys will be in two of them. Three Green Bay Packers games will be shown, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers got two appearances. The Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos got just one. The Ravens and Washington Redskins, who were often featured in the Joe Gibbs regime, were blanked.

Replay vote today

The owners will vote on instant-replay review of officiating calls today, and it seems unlikely to pass, because the proponents can't agree on a single system.

Two proposals will be voted on today. One proposed by the competition committee is a challenge system in which coaches must ask for a replay. The one change from last year's proposal is that a team successful in challenging wouldn't lose a timeout.

The other proposal, by the Atlanta Falcons, is a variation of the system used from 1986 to 1991 with a replay official in the booth, except that the referee on the field would have the final decision to overturn the calls.

Secondary rules tightened

The league had bad news yesterday for new Ravens cornerback Rod Woodson.

Officials will more closely enforce the rule prohibiting defensive backs from hitting wide receivers more than 5 yards from the line of scrimmage. The officials were being lax in calling it.

To compensate for his loss of speed, Woodson has used a physical style of play and was called for 11 penalties, 10 on defense and one on special teams, during the 1997 regular season in San Francisco.

With officials calling it more tightly, Woodson could face a season of even more penalties.

Pub Date: 3/25/98

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