Tagliabue: Audible allowed on Monday night schedule

To air best games, last 4 can be moved from Sunday

NFL meetings notebook

Pro Football

March 19, 2002|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

ORLANDO, Fla. - The NFL is looking to save its prime late-season showdowns for prime time.

At the league meetings yesterday, commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced that the 2002 schedule likely will allow one Sunday game in each of the last four weeks to be shifted to Monday night.

Any changes would be decided at least four weeks in advance. The 2002 schedule is expected to be released next week.

While this plan must still be signed off on by Fox and CBS - who own the rights to the NFC and AFC games broadcast on Sundays - Tagliabue can unilaterally approve it for the NFL.

"We will ensure that there will be attractive games in all the time slots on Sunday and on Monday nights," Tagliabue said. "I think we can make it a win-win situation. We would make sure that CBS and Fox both have strong programming late in the season."

This change would help avoid recent schedule lapses. The past two Super Bowl winners - the Ravens and the New England Patriots - were not on Monday Night Football during their championship seasons.

Rules and changes

The league's competition committee discussed nine minor rule changes, but the "tuck rule" appears to be safe for now.

The "tuck rule" became a volatile issue after playing a pivotal role in New England's overtime playoff win against Oakland. In that snowy divisional-round game, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was ruled first to have fumbled inside the last two minutes, a call reversed when replays showed Brady had not completely tucked away the ball.

"That rule has always been there," said Tampa Bay general manager Rich McKay, co-chairman of the committee. "The league has always favored loss of down over loss of ball."

The rule changes mainly concerned time issues, such as starting the clock on kickoffs when the ball is touched, which is currently done only in the last two minutes of halves. The committee also recommended that the clock not be stopped on a sack in the last two minutes to reward defenses for making good plays.

Northern Super Bowl?

Playing the 2007 Super Bowl in New York or Washington could become a reality.

Tagliabue has suggested the owners consider playing that game out of respect for the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. In order to play the Super Bowl in a northern city, the league would have to lift the rule that the game be played either indoors or at sites where the temperature in January or February averages 50 degrees or more.

The owners could vote on this proposal at their fall meetings.

"We have an interest in bringing our ultimate game to those markets," Tagliabue said.

Ravens interest Chandler

If Chris Chandler is still available in June, the free-agent quarterback would consider signing with the Ravens. The team is seeking a veteran backup for Chris Redman but cannot sign anyone until it frees up salary cap room in June.

Chander's agent, Frank Bauer, wants to avoid that scenario.

"Anytime you wait for June, you're going to be playing for the minimum [salary]," Bauer said. "You try to stay out of that situation. I hope it doesn't go that way."

Wire reports contributed to this article.

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