Owners again say no to instant replay Vote falls short by 2

proponents say they'll lobby Cleveland next year

March 26, 1998|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The instant-replay proponents aren't going to take no for an answer.

Minutes after replay fell two votes shy by a 21-9 margin yesterday at the NFL owners meetings, Charley Casserly, the general manager of the Washington Redskins who has led the charge to bring back replay, said, "We'll be lobbying for Cleveland's vote next year."

Cleveland will become the 31st team in the league next year.

That guaranteed that replay will be back as an issue at next year's annual owners' meeting in Phoenix as its supporters keep trying to bring back some form of a system that was used from 1986 to 1991.

Even though replay is favored by a majority of the owners, it keeps falling just short.

A year ago, it was three votes short by a 20-10 margin. It takes 23 votes to pass it.

Two of the 10 teams that voted no last year -- the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys -- switched to yes this time.

Jets coach Bill Parcells, who voted no last year because the proposal then called for a team to lose a timeout even if its challenge was successful, changed his vote when the format was changed so a team wouldn't lose a timeout if the challenge was upheld.

Jerry Jones, the Cowboys' owner, has been an opponent of replay, but went for it because the majority favored it.

But the San Diego Chargers were a surprise no vote because they decided they didn't like the coaches' challenge system.

The other 27 teams voted the same way they did last year.

The other seven no votes were provided by the so-called Gang of Seven that has traditionally opposed replay -- the Buccaneers, Cardinals, Giants, Chiefs, Bills, Bengals and Bears.

They all voted no in the spring of 1992 when it was thrown out by a 17-11 vote.

Since that time, Oakland switched to no because the Raiders don't like the challenge system tied to timeouts and the Eagles and Lions switched from no to yes. And the two newest teams, Carolina and Jacksonville, are in the yes column.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, who had indicated they were going to switch from yes to no because coach Bill Cowher decided he didn't like the coaches' challenge system, stayed in the yes column.

When Cowher decided to agree to it on a one-year trial basis, the proponents thought it might pass.

But the Oakland and San Diego no votes, added to the traditional seven no votes, were enough to defeat it.

Ralph Wilson, the owner of the Bills, had indicated he might switch to support a "simple system," but decided it detracts from the game.

"It's still a sideshow," Wilson said. "Going back to the days of Bronko Nagurski and Bill Hewitt of the Bears, this has been a great game without replay. I don't want to impede progress, but I don't think it's progress."

Rich McKay, the general manager of the Buccaneers, said the issue won't die because the league showed it could be done from 1986-1991 and the technology has improved since then. He noted there's no cry for replay in baseball and basketball.

"If we hadn't had it, I don't think we would be in this position today," he said.

Ravens owner Art Modell, who had predicted it might pass this time, remained a strong supporter. He has always favored replay.

Mike Holmgren, the Green Bay coach who is co-chairman of the competition committee, said losing the vote was like losing a game.

Saying it had gone down in flames, Holmgren said the defeat "takes the wind out of your sails, but you regroup and get going again."

In other matters, the owners voted to forbid defensive players from moving in an attempt to force offensive lineman to flinch to get a false-start penalty. They also banned the offense from having 12 men in the huddle and decided players can't wear tinted visors.

As expected, they also named New Orleans and San Diego as the finalists for Super Bowl 2002.

League president Neal Austrian also told the owners that if Baltimore can bid for a Super Bowl, Redskins owner John Kent Cooke wants consideration for one in his stadium.

But John Moag, the chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, faces an uphill climb in his bid to sell the idea of a Super Bowl in an outdoor, cold-weather stadium.

Although one member of the Super Bowl committee, Lamar Hunt of the Chiefs, has an open mind about it, another member of the committee, Wilson, opposes the idea.

A third member, Jim Irsay of the Indianapolis Colts, trying to be diplomatic because he doesn't want to sound as if he's against Baltimore, said, "I don't think it's really a question of a Super Bowl in Baltimore, but whether the league wants a Super Bowl in a cold-weather site that doesn't have a dome." Irsay said he doesn't think the idea has a great deal of support among the owners and called it "very much a long shot."

Meanwhile, George Young, who recently retired as general manager of the New York Giants, was named executive of the year for a record fifth time. Young, who recently became an executive in the league office, assembled a young team that went from last to first in the NFC East last year.

Pub Date: 3/26/98

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