Owners give thumbs up to instant replay again

They also vote to limit multi-player celebrations

March 30, 2000|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- NFL owners gave a thumbs up to instant replay and a thumbs down to celebrations as they wrapped up their annual March meetings yesterday.

The owners voted 28-3 to approve instant replay for another year, and 30-0, with St. Louis abstaining, to limit multi-player celebrations, such as the Rams' "Bob and Weave" and the Ravens' "Baltimore Bomb."

Replay passed by the same margin as last year, but two teams changed their votes -- Kansas City voted no and the New York Jets voted yes. The Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals again voted no.

The league will continue to use the instant replay system it implemented last year, with a coach's challenge system in all but the last two minutes of each half, when a replay official in the booth can call for a replay.

Several teams with reservations about replay -- notably Tampa Bay and Indianapolis -- voted yes because they didn't want to junk the system after one year.

Mike Brown of the Bengals, a longtime foe of replay, said, "I think in the minds of a lot of guys it's a closer call than the vote would indicate. We'll go for it for another year and see if it lives up to everybody's hopes."

But Brown remained dubious about the system.

"I think human nature isn't going to change and that's what drives the [replay] machines. It isn't the machine that's in question. It's the people behind it," he said.

The officials overturned 57 calls last year and admitted six were reversed incorrectly.

Ravens coach Brian Billick is a supporter, although he would like replay to work the entire game the way it does in the last two minutes.

"Let's get another year of data, another year under our belt and then look and see what we can do to adjust it," he said.

The supporters may want to install the system permanently next year if it works without too many glitches this year.

St. Louis abstained on the vote banning celebrations involving more than one player because it's the end of the team's "Bob and Weave," although some executives that voted yes didn't support the measure.

Rams president John Shaw said fans enjoy the dance, and it wasn't meant to taunt.

Dan Rooney, president of the Steelers, voted to ban the celebrations because Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher was against them, but Rooney then said: "Let them celebrate. I don't think you should, but taunting, that's a different story. But they're having fun and people pay their money to see fun."

Billick, though, wasn't a fan of the "Baltimore Bomb," which the league told the Ravens to knock off during the season.

"I told them they didn't do it very well," Billick said. "There are better ways to demonstrate that kind of passion."

The owners also passed a measure on sharing Internet revenue by a 23-2 vote (Dallas and Miami voted no) for two years, with five teams abstaining and one (Minnesota) absent.

Ravens owner Art Modell was one who abstained because he wanted to make sure the provisions weren't in conflict with the team's PSINet contract. Modell, one of the pioneers in sharing TV revenue, said he favors sharing the Internet revenue.

The owners also discussed the way the compensation package for commissioner Paul Tagliabue was put together by a committee. Raiders owner Al Davis has been a longtime critic of the deal, but Tagliabue replied, "Pay me one dollar a year, but don't question my integrity."

Tagliabue actually makes $5 million a year, plus a bonus package.

Meanwhile, the Ravens left the meetings without a deal to trade their fifth draft pick although Billick and Ozzie Newsome, vice president of player personnel, said some teams have asked whether they're interested in dealing the pick.

But since there's no consensus choice around the league for the fifth pick, the Ravens may have trouble getting a serious offer.

Billick also suggested that any attempt to get running back Corey Dillon from Cincinnati would have to involve a trade. The Ravens can make him an offer sheet because he's a restricted free agent, but the Bengals could match.

"We'd certainly listen to any scenario that Cincinnati wanted to bring up," Billick said.

Newsome also is playing it close to the vest about whom he plans to draft in the fifth and 15th spots if the Ravens don't make any deals.

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