NFL may expand playoffs, vows to curtail taunting, plans to experiment with longer PAT kicks

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The NFL discussed expanding the playoffs, expressed a determination to curtail taunting and set up an experiment to kick extra points from the 20-yard line on the final day of the spring meetings Wednesday.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said two more wild-card games could be added next season, adding that there was a "tremendous amount of interest in this, possibly even to the point of support."

The owners discussed adding two playoff teams to the current 12, one in each conference.

Goodell believes it would make the late-season division and wild-card races even more compelling. Adding two postseason games also would increase TV revenues.

The topic is certain to come up when Goodell meets with the players union April 8, and again at the owners' May meeting in Atlanta.

As for taunting, the NFL will place a heavy emphasis on enforcing its player conduct rules, something Rams coach Jeff Fisher calls "a front-of-the-book issue."

"We're going to clean the game up on the field," said Fisher, co-chairman of the influential competition committee.

"The in-your-face taunting, those types of things, the language. It's all in the (rule) book. It's all under unsportsmanlike conduct. There's no change in our rule. We're going to enforce the current rule."

That includes abusive and racist language.

"It includes everything, yes," Fisher said with emphasis.

He noted that everyone is fed up when a lack of sportsmanship occurs: owners, coaches, fans, players.

"The NCAA is hoping for us to do something about it and we've got to take the lead," Fisher said, "and we're going to do that."

The Miami Dolphins were plagued by a bullying scandal last season after tackle Jonathan Martin left the team. NFL investigators found that guard Richie Incognito and two teammates engaged in persistent harassment directed at Martin, another offensive lineman and an assistant trainer. Incognito was suspended for the final eight games of the season and no longer is with the Dolphins.

Taunting penalties also were up last year, Fisher said, from "nine to 12 or 13."

"In the past, taunting, sportsmanship was in the back of the book under points of emphasis," he said. "It is now in the front of the book. It falls in our book right after all the statistical things which were good about our game last year. It is now a front-of-the-book issue. And what we want to do is we want to be able to put it back in the back of the book."

Also on Wednesday, the owners:

> Approved experimentation with extra-point kicks from the 20-yard line for two weeks in the preseason, but implementing longer PATs for the regular season has been tabled.

> Adopted proposals to extend the length of the goalposts 5 feet to 35 feet to better determine if kicks are good; to no longer stop the clock on sacks; and to allow video reviews on plays with a recovery of a loose ball on the field even though the play had been whistled dead.

> Rejected proposals to move kickoffs to the 40-yard line; to allow more than one player to be placed on injured reserve, then return to the roster during the season; to subject personal foul penalties to video review; to permit coaches to challenge any officiating decision except on scoring plays or turnovers, which automatically are reviewed; and to eliminate the first preseason cutdown to 75 players.

> Tabled proposals to raise the number of active players for games not played on a Sunday or Monday, except for opening week, from 46 to 49; to raise the practice squad maximum from eight to 10 players; to eliminate overtime in preseason games; to allow trades after the Super Bowl and before the new league year begins in March; to permit teams to test at their facilities 10 players who attended the NFL combine; to place fixed cameras on the goal lines, sidelines and end lines to aid replay reviews; and to call pass interference in the area 1 yard or less from the line of scrimmage, where it does not apply now.

On Tuesday, the owners approved allowing referees to consult with the officiating department in New York on replay challenges, and they voted to ban blockers from rolling up on the side of the legs of a defender. The league also barred players from dunking the ball over the crossbar in celebration.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

or Subscribe now so you can share your opinion! It’s only a penny for a month trial.