ANNUAL NFL OWNERS MEETING: League ownership approves new rules | NFL approves new replay process | Field-goal posts to be extended
ORLANDO, Fla. — On the third day of the NFL Annual Meeting, the league’s ownership got down to voting.
One day after approving a rule to allow referees to consult with the officiating department in New York during replay review (see below), the league came to a decision on the rest of the rule proposals on the docket. Here’s a quick summary of the measures:
- The proposal to extend the goal posts five feet taller has passed.
“It just made sense,” Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. It passed “relatively easily.”
- The “NaVorro Bowman Rule” was passed. That allows the officials to make the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play a reviewable call. This loophole was exposed when Bowman clearly recovered a ball in the NFC Championship Game last year, but the play couldn’t be under review.
- The game clock will now continue after a quarterback sack outside of two minutes.
- Multiple proposals to expand plays that can be reviewed were shot down. The Patriots had suggested allowing all plays to be reviewed. The Washington Redskins wanted personal fouls to be reviewed.
Less than 50 percent of coaches supported the measure to make all plays reviewable, according to the Competition Committee. The committee said the topic inspired a lot of debate.
- The proposal to move the kickoff to the 40-yard line was shot down. So was their idea to eliminate the training camp roster cutdown to 75 players.
- The proposal to move the extra point back to the 25-yard line failed, but the league will experiment with a new extra-point system during the preseason. Extra points in Weeks 1 and 2 of the preseason will be snapped from the 20-yard line. (Making them like a 37-yard field goal.)
- The proposal to allow an unlimited number of players on injured reserve to return to the active roster failed. Jeff Fisher of the Competition Committee said that vote wasn’t close.
No decision yet
- The abolition of overtime in the preseason was tabled until May.
- The idea to expand the practice squad from eight to ten players was also tabled. The same goes for expanding rosters for Thursday night games to 49 from 46.
- The league also put off deciding whether to allow teams to open their roof during halftime at games for weather reasons.
- The Competition Committee told the Patriots that it will look at the possibility of adding cameras to all goal lines, side lines and end lines. The NFL will discuss the possibility with its broadcast partners.
RELATED: NFL approves rule that changes the replay process
ORLANDO, Fla. — NFL owners voted to significantly change the instant replay process.
The league announced owners voted to pass Rule Proposal 9 at the 2014 NFL Annual Meeting, which says that referees can consult with the officiating department in New York during replay reviews.
This proposal always had a wide swath of support throughout the league because there is belief it will improve accuracy and speed during replay reviews. The existing NFL Officiating Command Center in New York immediately will begin to review replays after the call is challenged. By the time the referee gets to his “booth,” the command center can advise the referee on what to look for in the play. The referee ultimately makes the final choice on the play.
It’s hard to see the downside of this rule. It should prevent obvious mistakes from happening.
The league also voted to ban “roll up” blocks to the side of a player’s leg. This is a tweak of the rule that bans these blocks from behind. It should help mostly defensive players, and is a relatively minor adjustment on the previous rule.
The rest of the rules and bylaws proposals are expected to be voted on during Wednesday’s session (see above).
NFL officials met with the media today (Sunday) following Jason Garrett’s press conference to discuss changes made to the NFL rule book during the past offseason.
Officials ran film depicting all major rule changes to be enforced during the 2013 season:
- As has been discussed extensively, running backs are no longer allowed to make contact with the crown of their helmet. If a ball carrier outside the tackle box lines up with a defender and lowers his head to use the crown against a tackler, a 15-yard penalty will be assessed.
- On all kicking plays, the defense can no longer block below the waist, and they may no longer push players into the line or stack one side of the line of scrimmage.
- Also on kicking plays, the long snapper is now a defenseless player and may not be engaged until he becomes an active blocker.
- Peel back blocks, in which an offensive player blocks a defender below the waist from either in front or from the side, will now draw a 15-yard flag.
- Thigh pads and knee pads – all pads worn below the waist – are now mandatory for all players. If it’s determined a player isn’t wearing pads, he can’t return to the field of play until he fixes his uniform.
- The infamous “tuck rule” has now been amended so that the passing motion ends when the quarterback begins to tuck the ball. Under the new rule, Tom Brady’s famous incomplete pass from the 2001-02 playoffs would have been a fumble.
- The rules have been amended to change the penalty for an erroneous challenge. When a coach throws a challenge flag for a play that either cannot be reviewed or is automatically reviewed, the team will lose a timeout. In the past, plays that had been challenged erroneously could not be reviewed – such as the case during last season’s Thanksgiving game between Houston and Detroit.
- Taunting between players, including spiking or spinning the ball in the direction of another player, is a penalty.
Supervisor of officials Gary Slaughter spoke briefly following the presentation, and he clarified the running back rule, which has been the source of plenty of consternation among NFL fans.
“We’re still allowing the runner to protect himself,” Slaughter said. “We don’t plan on getting out there and having a lot of flags on this. In fact, of all the plays from last year, only really a few fit that rule. [The runner] still has the ability to defend himself, if there’s any angle involved going toward the sideline or outside the tackle box – running at an angle, that’s not a foul either. And we certainly don’t encourage the runner to run straight up and take the blow, either.”
Slaughter also touched on the peel-back blocks, saying that any such situation would require the blocker to go across the body. He also added that officials will make a strong effort in 2013 to penalize the instigator during taunting situations.
“We’re really making an effort, even more, to try and get the instigator –even if we see retaliation by somebody. You might see that this year,” he said. “If a player has been picking, trying to get the guy to react, he finally does – even if he does, we’re going to try to get the guy that caused it.”
IRVING, Texas – DE Jason Hatcher’s roughing the passer penalty in the fourth quarter of Dallas’ loss at Washington was costly on the field. The NFL chose not to impose a fine.
After the game, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said the penalty was questionable, but replays showed Hatcher hitting Redskins QB Robert Griffin III in the helmet with 2:35 to play. The penalty negated a third-down stop by Dallas’ defense and allowed Washington to score a touchdown with 1:09 to play.
If there hadn’t been a penalty, the Cowboys would have forced the Redskins to kick a field goal for a six-point lead with more than two minutes to play. Hatcher did not speak after the game or on Monday.
Dallas LB Kyle Wilber was fined $21,000 for a blindside block on a punt return by Dwayne Harris, but Wilber was not called for a penalty in the game. With a $390,000 base salary, Wilber made roughly $22,941 per week.
THE DREADED HAIR-COLLAR: Dallas Cowboys tight end John Phillips penalized 15 yards for collaring Cleveland’s horse
The Dallas Cowboys complained about the Cleveland Brown horsecollar tackle that wasn’t really a horse collar at all.
Dallas Cowboys tight end John Phillips was penalized 15 yards for a horsecollar penalty late in the fourth quarter, which led to the Browns scoring a go-ahead touchdown on the next play. But replays showed that Phillips had pulled Josh Cribbs down by Cribbs’ dreadlocks, which is legal.
"It sure looked like he pulled his hair," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We had a pretty good view of it. It was right in front of us. But those guys have to make those judgment calls in a split second. So that is what it is."
The play is not a reviewable play, which is why the replay official never called for Ed Hoculi to go under the hood.
Images courtesy: Steve DelVecchio | Larry Brown
RELATED: JOHN PHILLIPS – "All hair. One hundred percent all hair. All hair."
John Phillips testified Monday at Valley Ranch about his horse-collar penalty.
“All hair,” he said. “One hundred percent all hair.
But, there was no judge in the locker room. No place to appeal. It’s still his penalty.
Still, the fourth-year tight end told reporters he was surprised he actually got flagged on the dragdown of Joshua Cribbs on the fourth-quarter punt return. The penalty put the ball at the 17-yard line, and Ben Watson’s touchdown catch put the Browns up 20-17 with 1:07 left.
“I knew they were probably going to throw it, but i didn’t think they’d actually give the penalty,” he said. “I thought they would talk to each other and realize it was all hair.”
Phillips was afraid he had cost the game.
“Well, it sucks,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, because I put our defense and our team in a compromising situation. We had to punt the ball back to them, and I give them 15 more yards, and then they scored on the next play. Obviously, I felt terrible. I guess it’s not a reviewable play, right? It’s just one of those things.”
For the fourth time this season the Cowboys committed 13 penalties in a game.
Oddly enough, the league’s second-most penalized team improved to 3-1 in those contests with a 38-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
It’s unrealistic to expect more wins if that trend continues and Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones address that topic on Monday.
“We’ve got to stop the penalties,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “They’re inexcusable, yet we continue to have them. They kept drives alive for the Eagles a couple of times by being offsides. That’s just unacceptable.”
Morris Claiborne, Jason Hatcher, Josh Brent and Anthony Spencer combined to go offside six times. Claiborne was also flagged for holding twice and pass interference once. John Phillips had two false starts, Doug Free had another and Orlando Scandrick was called for holding.
In the end, the 13 penalties cost the Cowboys 75 yards and raised their season average to 8.2 penalties per game. Only the Washington Redskins (8.3) average more penalties per game.
While dissecting the problem, Jones said the Cowboys coaching staff has to do more to find a solution before the penalties end up costing the club a chance at the postseason.
“I know [Garrett] wants to do more. We talked about it,” Jones said. “We addressed it after the game. He’s going to get with Rob [Ryan] and we got to do more because whatever we’re doing is not working. They pulled [Jason] Hatcher out of the game after his second consecutive offsides, but it’s got to be more than that.
“Somehow we got to get focused. For some reason, the guys continue to make those mistakes and at some point that’s going to cost us a game that may cost us our season.”
Here’s a game-by-game breakdown of the Cowboys’ 74 penalties this season.
Week 1: 13 penalties for 86 yards in win at Giants.
Week 2: 5 penalties for 47 yards in loss at Seahawks.
Week 3: 13 penalties for 105 yards in win over Buccaneers.
Week 4: 2 penalties for 10 yards in loss to Bears.
Week 6: 13 penalties for 82 yards in loss at Ravens.
Week 7: 6 penalties for 43 yards in win at Panthers.
Week 8: 2 penalties for 10 yards in loss to Giants.
Week 9: 7 penalties for 50 yards in loss at Atlanta.
Week 10: 13 penalties for 75 yards in win at Eagles.
IRVING, Texas — There is a consistent trend with Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant that probably needs to stop: He’s arguing with the referees. Too much.
Bryant wants calls. He says his jersey is getting pulled by defensive backs and that there are push-offs. On his second touchdown catch against Baltimore, Bryant pushed off cornerback Cary Williams. But Bryant wanted a call made when he failed to catch a potential game-tying two-point conversion when he felt Williams made contact before the play.
Said Williams: "He needs to step up and be a man. You can’t be a baby about stuff. You’ve got to man up. It’s one-on-one. Mano-a-mano. I got you. Sometimes you’re going to win. Sometimes you’re going to lose."
Coach Jason Garrett said the arguing with the officials has to stop and Bryant has to concentrate and move to the next play.
"Absolutely. We try to emphasize that to everybody on our team," Garrett said. "There’s certainly a natural reaction that a lot of guys have. You see it all around the league. There’s an attention to the officiating, and you’ve just got to make sure to focus on doing your job. Obviously he felt a couple of different occasions where he was getting held, he was a little bit restrictive."
Bryant is a talented player who wears his emotions not just on his sleeve, but on his entire body.
In pregame warm-ups, he’s bouncing around catching passes from anybody who will throw them. During the game, there is a natural chirping that goes on between players. Bryant is almost always in the middle of it. At times Bryant has to be pulled away by a teammate after complaining to a referee. Sometimes he’s the only offensive player on the field still barking at the refs.
After Bryant caught a 1-yard pass in the closing seconds of the Cowboys’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens, he was complaining to the referee.
"But again, we emphasize to him, get that guy off of him and go make the play," Garrett said. "At times (in the Baltimore game) he did an outstanding job of that. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out on the two-point play. But Dez is getting better and better every week. We’re excited to have him on our football team."
RELATED: INJURY UPDATE – Dez Bryant expected to play at Carolina
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is expected to play today at Carolina.
Bryant, who has been battling groin soreness, didn’t practice Friday and was officially listed as questionable. He will test his groin in pre-game warm-ups and – if he doesn’t have a setback – will start for the Cowboys.
Bryant is coming off the best two-game stretch of his career and leads the team with 34 catches for 364 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Tony Romo has targeted Bryant a combined 28 times over the last two games compared to 11 times to Miles Austin.
The Cowboys, however, could take Bryant off of punt returns and use Dwayne Harris in his place to help manage the injury throughout the game.
IRVING, Texas (AP) — NFL referees are ready to go unnoticed again, just as they prefer.
The refs approved a new eight-year contract with the league by a 112-5 vote Saturday, officially ending a lockout that led to three weeks of increasingly chaotic games run by replacement officials.
After a few hours of final preparations with league officials, the next stop for the referees will be the airport. Most will be heading straight to their Sunday game sites.
"It was pretty much ‘Come on in and vote,’" said Scott Green, president of the referees’ association. "We’re going to talk football now. We’re going to stop talking about CBAs and lockouts and now we’re going to talk about rules and video and getting ourselves ready to work football games."
They may get ovations similar to the one bestowed on the crew that worked Thursday’s Cleveland-Baltimore game with the tentative deal in place. Before long, they expect to go back to being mostly anonymous and sometimes hated. They’re OK with both.
"The last Super Bowl that I worked, when we got in the locker room, I said, ‘You know, the best thing about this game, nobody will remember who refereed this game,’" Green said. "That’s how we like to work."
The referees met for about an hour and a half Friday night to go over the contract, then gathered for another 30 minutes Saturday morning before approving the contract.
"We are obviously pleased to hear it," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to The Associated Press on Saturday.
Because they were aware of the financial parameters, most of the discussion by the referees involved non-economic issues such as year-round work and developmental squads, said Tim Millis, the association’s executive director.
The deal came quickly this week after an increasing chorus of complaints became impossible to ignore when a disputed touchdown call on the final play gave the Seattle Seahawks a victory over the Green Bay Packers on national television Monday night. Many thought the ruling of a Seattle touchdown instead of a Green Bay interception was botched, and the labor dispute drew public comments.
By late Wednesday, the sides had a contract calling for refs’ salaries to increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019. The current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season or until the official earns 20 years’ service.
The defined benefit plan will then be frozen. Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution.
Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option to hire a number of officials to work year-round. The NFL also can retain additional officials for training and development and assign those officials to work games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the league.
The officials that worked Thursday’s Ravens-Browns game were cheered from the moment they walked onto the field. The difference between the regular crew and replacements was clear. The officials kept the game in control, curtailing the chippy play and choppy pace that had marred the first three weeks of the regular season.
"I think the thing we’re most proud of is the lesson that we all learned," Green said. "If you’re going to be in a professional league, you’ve got top-notch coaches, you need professional officials as well."
Courtesy: Associated Press
The NFL and its locked-out officials agreed to terms on a new deal late Wednesday night which would put officials in place for this weekend’s games — including Thursday night’s game — sources close to the situation confirmed. Both the NFL and the officials’ union later issued statements confirming the deal.
According to the sources, the final sticking point related to the much-discussed pension plan, but that stalemate finally ended.
The sides are currently working on paperwork according to sources and at least half of the 121 locked-out members must approve the new deal, but sources said that is expected to be a formality, with the vote coming Friday.
”Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night” for the Cleveland-Baltimore game, commissioner Roger Goodell said. ”We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement.”
The agreement, which is an eight-year deal, culminated two long days of talks that included Goodell at the table. The deal must be ratified by 51 percent of the union’s 121 members. They plan to vote Friday and Saturday in Dallas.
”Our Board of Directors has unanimously approved taking this proposed CBA to the membership for a ratification vote,” said Scott Green, president of the NFLRA. ”We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games.”
The replacements worked the first three weeks of games, triggering a wave of frustration that threatened to disrupt the rest of the season. After a missed call cost the Green Bay Packers a win on a chaotic final play at Seattle on Monday night, the two sides really got serious.
The NFL said in a statement Tuesday that the touchdown pass should not have been overturned – but acknowledged Tate should have been called for offensive pass interference before the catch. The league also said there was no indisputable evidence to reverse the call made on the field.
The agreement hinged on working out pension and retirement benefits for the officials, who are part-time employees of the league. The tentative pact calls for their salaries to increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019.
Under the proposed deal, the current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season or until the official earns 20 years’ service. The defined benefit plan will then be frozen.
Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution arrangement. The annual league contribution made on behalf of each game official will begin with an average of more than $18,000 per official and increase to more than $23,000 per official in 2019.
Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option to hire a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year round, including on the field. The NFL also will be able to retain additional officials for training and development, and can assign those officials to work games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the league.
”As you know, this has to be ratified and we know very little about it, but we’re excited to be back. And ready,” referee Ed Hochuli told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. ”And I think that’s the most important message – that we’re ready.”
The dominant color for all NFL games in Week 3 will be yellow.
As in yellow hankies littering the field.
A flag-fest in a football game has absolutely no appeal to anyone, including those of us attending the Cowboys home opener at the Big Yard, but it’s a predictable counterattack by the Goodell Gang-bangers on Park Avenue in New York.
With its replacement officiating crews — "scabs," if you want to get unionized about it — the NFL took a PR beating across the land last weekend. This was a dramatic one-eighty from Week 1, when we all had to agree the league won the PR battle against the locked out regular officials.
A friend who draws a paycheck from the NFL didn’t exactly agree with me on the difference between Week 1 and Week 2. On Thursday, he said, "The league won Week 1, and last week, I’d call it a Mexican standoff."
I didn’t see the Mexican standoff. I saw the replacements seriously lose a battle over control and respect, which was predictable. Sooner or later, or as long as the replacements are working at a job they aren’t qualified to do, the players and coaches would take advantage of these newbies.
The abuse flowed across the league in Week 2.
Which brings us back to what people with knowledge of the situation are predicting for Sunday. That being, the league has ordered the replacements to fight back with their yellow hankies, including an emphasis on unsportsmanlike conduct calls.
Yes, the replacements have missed calls, or thrown phantom flags, or have had issues with rules interpretation. But over the years, how many times have we seen the regulars miss calls, or throw phantom flags?
In fact, the league now issues positive "talking points" on the officiating each week, but what missed the talking point and what hit Roger Goodell upside his hard head last weekend was a failure by the replacements to take control of games and keep the games moving. Plus, the verbal abuse was immense.
The lack of respect, and no fear of retaliation, empowered players and coaches to go far beyond where they would normally tread with the regulars.
Will a flurry of flags this week change that? No, of course not. Players and coaches smell blood. They will continue to go over the line of protocol when dealing with the replacements. There are games to be won, and there are jobs on the line for coaches and players.
What the combatants see are pigeons working as the "cops" of football. Human nature says the pigeons will be abused.
Meanwhile, I have no stance on which side is wrong in the financial battle between Goodell and the regular officials. Are the money demands of the regulars so far out of line the league had to take the lockout stance, or is the league squeezing the regulars and attempting to break their union?
Don’t know. But we all know the NFL is a massive business where the rich owners become richer because of the value of a league franchise. There is plenty of money to go around and make everyone happy, except those who have the money don’t want to give up the money.
Goodell, of course, has been on a power trip, starting with his overreaction and grandstanding in the case against the New Orleans Saints, a ruling that was more about evidence he could present in the pending lawsuits against the NFL by former players, who claim the league ignored player safety issues.
For an encore, the commissioner also decided to muscle the regular officials. And that has put the league in a position where the emphasis this season has been as much about the replacement officials as it is about the actual playing of the games.
And now, player safety is a central issue again, because with the lack of control by the replacements in Week 2, it put the league back on the defensive about that topic.
We all applauded Hall of Famer Steve Young for his powerful ESPN comments after the Monday night mess in Atlanta. Young said of the NFL:
"There is nothing they can do to hurt demand for the game. So the bottom line is they don’t care. Go ahead, gripe all you want. Let them eat cake."
Eat your cake. Goodell and the owners Do. Not. Care.
Another funny line on that Monday night mess came from former Cowboys front office executive Gil Brandt, who now writes a column for NFL.com., meaning he’s an employee of the NFL.
With a big fuss over how incompetent the replacements were when attempting to determine which team (Atlanta or Denver) recovered a fumble on Monday night, Brandt told me Thursday:
"Maybe [the replacements] got it wrong, but I also have one less Super Bowl ring and the Cowboys have one less Lombardi because an [regular] official blew a call on a fumble."
Gil has a long and bitter memory, and rightfully so. Official Jack Fette infamously melted down on such a call in the 1970 Super Bowl loss to the Baltimore Colts.
According to several sources, the league answer on Sunday to what went on last week will be ordering the replacements to give us a flag-fest, instead of the league simply going back to the negotiating table with the regulars.
Oh, boy. More muscle from Roger Goodell, the commissioner who does not care.
We get that part of it, for sure.
PHOTO: Where’s the flag? If he’s looking for a flag on the Sean Lee hit … he won’t find one!
SEATTLE — Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett spent a lot of time during training camp trying to make his team more physical.
The club seemed to be making strides in that area until it ran into a buzz saw in Seattle on Sunday.
From a bullying offensive line to a vicious crack-back block delivered by receiver Golden Tate against linebacker Sean Lee to a couple of big hits on tight end Jason Witten, the Seahawks punished the Cowboys in winning 27-7.
“It starts with our coach,” Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor said of Pete Carroll. “Pete has a lot of energy, and he spreads the energy through us.”
Tate’s hit came with the Seahawks up 20-7 early in the fourth and was credited with helping to take the fight out of the Cowboys.
The blindside hit came on a 14-yard run by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson around the left end. Tate launched himself into Lee’s chest and came up through his chin, a blow that sent the third-year player flying.
“I was trying to hit him a little bit and get him on the ground, but I didn’t realize how hard I hit him,” said Tate, who flexed his muscles to the crowd afterward.
Lee left the field under his own power. After getting checked for a concussion, he returned a few players later.
Asked if it was a dirty play, Lee said, “It’s part of the game, not for me to judge. I’ll watch the film, but I know that can happen any time.”
Asked if he was OK, he added, “Yeah. Well, other than the loss. … I cleared everything from a concussion standpoint. My head didn’t hurt at all. It was more about losing breath.”
The play didn’t result in a penalty even though crack-back blocks against defenseless players are a rules violation. There was a flag on the play, though, but it was against Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter for unnecessary roughness.
Garrett suggested Tate’s blow should have drawn a flag.
“(Hits against defenseless players) is something the league is trying to guard against, and this was a pretty good example,” he said.
Owner Jerry Jones said he believes the NFL will look at the hit.
RELATED POST on THE BOYS ARE BACK blog:
RELATED POST on THE DALLAS COWBOYS website:
RELATED: Joe Flacco Calls Out Refs After Baltimore Ravens’ Loss
Joe Flacco had a chance to make some late-game magic against the Philadelphia Eagles. Unlike Michael Vick, Flacco couldn’t get it done.
After Sunday’s 24-23 loss, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback largely blamed the replacement officials, saying they are "affecting the integrity of the game."
Flacco’s biggest gripe is that replacement refs don’t know what holding is. He also mocked the offensive pass-interference call against Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones that wiped away a fourth-quarter touchdown. It’s worth noting a number of shaky calls were made in the game, which took 3½ hours because of delays in making decisions.
"He didn’t even throw a flag, he threw a blue beanie," Flacco said, via Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post.
In the fourth quarter of this afternoon’s game against the Cowboys, the Seattle Seahawks strung together an 8-play, 90-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown and all but assured them victory by giving them a three-score lead. A key moment in that drive came when Seattle rookie QB Russell Wilson scrambled for a first down, thanks to a very helpful block from wide receiver Golden Tate on an unexpecting LB Sean Lee. No flags were thrown, but the Twitterverse went crazy following the controversial hit.
Mike Pereia, former Vice President of Officiating in the National Football League and current rules analyst at FOX Sports, chimed in with his thoughts on the uncalled hit via Twitter.
The hit on Lee is an illegal blindside block. Lee is considered defenseless, which means you can’t lower your head & hit in head/neck area.
Expect the NFL to fine Golden Tate this week.
Special thanks: @bubbaprog | Twitter
Perhaps the NFL won’t start the regular season with replacement officials after all.
NFL replacement officials, shown here before a recent exhibition game in New Orleans, would be sent to the sidelines if reports of renewed negotiations between the league and the officials union bear fruit.
The league and the NFL Referees Association were slated to resume negotiations Friday, according to two league sources.
NFL.com reported the sides "exchanged information and numbers."
Given that the two sides haven’t met at the bargaining table since late July — and with the NFL informing teams this week that it would enter Week 1 with the replacement officials who worked the preseason — the meeting might signal that the labor standoff can be resolved in the 11th hour.
The NFL would not confirm or deny a meeting.
Mike Arnold, the lead negotiator for the referees, was unavailable to comment but has repeatedly suggested recently he believed a deal could be struck quickly because the economic differences amounted to roughly $6,000 a game.
It is also notable that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in an interview with the league-owned NFL Network on Thursday, would not rule out a return by the locked-out officials for Week 1 — despite announced plans to the contrary.
"We’re, right now, planning on putting the replacement officials on the field," Goodell told NFL Network. "We would love to get an agreement. We respect our officials, and we’d work all night to get it done."
If a deal is struck quickly, could officials hit the field for Week 1?
It is conceivable, with the bulk of the regular-season openers nine days away.
The NFL’s kickoff game is five days away, with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday.
Ray Anderson, NFL executive vice president, recently told USA TODAY Sports the league projected needing seven to 10 days to get the crews back on the field after striking a labor deal. Anderson said the timing included getting a new collective bargaining agreement ratified by membership, physical exams, security background checks and a two- or three-day clinic that would include a refresher on rulebook changes.
Arnold, however, told USA TODAY Sports last week that the 121 locked-out officials would be ready to hit the field almost immediately. Arnold said the officials took their physicals in May, and he believes the NFL has had time to initiate security checks.
A number of locked-out officials also attended a concussion forum at the NFL Players Association headquarters in Washington, D.C., in July to better educate themselves for the additional task the league is requiring of them to spot players suffering head injuries.
Arnold said the officials are up to speed on rules changes, particularly given the efforts of referee Ed Hochuli, who has led conference call meetings and electronically distributed periodic rulebook quizzes for the officials.
"Ed Hochuli has done a great job of carrying the ball on that," Arnold said.
Arnold said the officials would have preferred to work during preseason games and training camp practices to develop timing and rhythm, much like summer repetitions help players prepare for the season. But in lieu of that, he insists that the officials have trained for conditioning.
"We’re doing everything we can to be ready," Arnold said.
Maybe that assertion will be put to a fast-track test.
Jarrett Bell | USA TODAY
NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL will open the regular season with replacement officials.
Replacements will be on the field beginning next Wednesday night when the Cowboys visit the Giants to open the season, league executive Ray Anderson told the 32 teams. Negotiations are at a standstill between the NFL and the officials’ union,
The NFL Referees Association was locked out in early June and talks on a new collective bargaining agreement went nowhere. Replacements have been used throughout the preseason, with mixed results.
In 2001, the NFL used replacements for the first week of the regular season before a contract was finalized.
Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, told the clubs in a memo Wednesday that the replacements will work "as much of the regular season as necessary," adding that training with each crew will continue.
A request for comment from the NFLRA was not immediately answered. The NFL Players Association, which of course went through a 4 1/2- month lockout last year before settling on a new contract, expressed disappointment about the decision to use replacements.
Colts safety Antoine Bethea said there is a feeling of solidarity with the officials.
"They’ve got to do what they’ve got to do, and we were in a similar situation a little while ago," Bethea said. "So you can’t fault those guys for doing what they have to do."
Anderson said the sides remain considerably apart on economic issues, including salary and retirement benefits. He also told the teams there is a substantial difference on operational issues.
"One of our key goals in this negotiation is to enhance our ability to recruit, train, and replace officials who are not performing adequately," Anderson said. "We believe that officials should be evaluated and performance issues addressed in the same way as players, coaches, club management and league staff. We have proposed several steps to accomplish this, including having a number of full-time officials and expanding the overall number of officials."
The NFL is offering to add three full officiating crews, increasing the total number of officials to 140. The NFLRA insists the compensation being offered with such an increase would reduce their pay.
The league is proposing having seven officials – one per position of referee, umpire, line judge, side judge, back judge, field judge, head linesman – who would train, scout, handle communications, safety issues and rules interpretations year-round. Now, all NFL game officials are part-time employees, with outside jobs ranging from lawyer to teacher to business owner.
In response, the NFLRA has said it is not opposed to full time officials "if they are fairly compensated."
Be glad Saturday night’s game against the Chargers didn’t count, because this one really might have been the refs’ faults.
Saturday night’s Cowboys-Chargers game had the worst call of the preseason so far — a preseason that is being officiated by replacement officials.
On a pass to Cowboys receiver Andre Holmes, Chargers safety Eric Weddle applied an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit. The ball bounced around and Chargers linebacker Donald Butler came up with the interception before it hit the ground.
Following yet another extended discussion after the play, the officials gave the ball to San Diego and marked off the personal foul against the Chargers for the illegal hit. The correct move, as anyone who pays attention to NFL football knows, would have been to wipe out the interception, give the ball back to the Cowboys, and mark off the penalty against the Chargers from the previous spot.
The article goes on to point out that it’s a more embarrassing gaffe, since under the new rules, all turnovers are subject to review, and even after a replay review, none of the officials properly returned the ball to the Cowboys and wiped away the interception.
We all know preseason wins and losses don’t count, but you can bet Kyle Orton would love to have that interception next to his name erased, and a number of Cowboy receivers on the 53-man roster bubble would have liked one more red-zone opportunity to get a key touchdown that could bring them one step closer to a roster spot.
And so the Cowboys lost what should have been a first down on the San Diego 15 with 53 seconds left in the second quarter.
Even though this game didn’t count, we’ve got a feeling that the league office will be hearing from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.