EXPECT EXTRA-LONG EXTRA POINT: NFL owners approve PAT rule changes for 2015 season | Kickers moved back 15 yards | Defensive scoring opportunity created
The NFL has been tinkering with the PAT in hopes of making it a more difficult and therefore entertaining play for spectators. Continue reading →
President Barack Obama says he would “think about changing” the Washington Redskins’ name if he owned the football team as he waded into the controversy involving a word that many consider offensive to Native Americans.
Obama, in an interview with The Associated Press, said team names such as the Redskins offend “a sizable group of people.” He said that while fans get attached to the names, nostalgia might not be a good enough reason to keep them in place.
“I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things,” he said in the interview, which was conducted Friday.
An avid sports fan, Obama said he doesn’t think Washington football fans are purposely trying to offend American Indians. “I don’t want to detract from the wonderful Redskins fans that are here. They love their team and rightly so,” he said.
But the president appeared to come down on the side of those who have sharply criticized the football team’s name, noting that Indians “feel pretty strongly” about mascots and team names that depict negative stereotypes about their heritage.
Other professional sports teams have Indian names, including football’s Kansas City Chiefs and baseball’s Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians.
Numerous colleges and universities have changed names that reference Native Americans. St. John’s changed its mascot from the Redmen to the Red Storm, Marquette is now the Golden Eagles instead of the Warriors and Stanford switched from the Indians to the Cardinal.
The Redskins’ name has attracted a fresh round of controversy in recent months, with local leaders in Washington calling for a name change and some media outlets refraining from using the name. The name is the subject of a long-running legal challenge from a group of American Indians seeking to block the team from having federal trademark protection.
Congressional lawmakers have introduced a bill seeking the same goal, though it appears unlikely to pass.
Opponents of the Redskins name plan to hold a protest Monday outside the NFL’s fall meeting in Washington.
Team owner Dan Snyder has vowed to never abandon the name. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last month that the league should pay attention to those offended by the name — a subtle change in position for Goodell, who had more strongly supported the name in his previous statements this year.
Despite the controversy, an AP-GfK poll conducted in April showed that nationally, “Redskins” still enjoys wide support. Nearly 4 in 5 Americans don’t think the team should change its name, the survey found. Only 11 percent think it should be changed, while 8 percent weren’t sure and 2 percent didn’t answer.
TEAM RESPONSE: The Washington Redskins released a statement through their attorney in response to President Obama’s comments:
“As a supporter of President Obama, I am sure the President is not aware that in the highly respected independent Annenberg Institute poll (taken in 2004) with a national sample of Native Americans, 9 out of 10 Native Americans said they were not bothered by the name the ‘Washington Redskins.’ The President made these comments to the Associated Press, but he was apparently unaware that an April 2013 AP poll showed that 8 out of 10 of all Americans in a national sample don’t think the Washington Redskins’ name should be changed.
“The Redskins respect everyone. But like devoted fans of the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Blackhawks (from President Obama’s hometown), the fans love their team and its name and, like those fans, they do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group. The name ‘Washington Redskins’ is 80 years old – its history and legacy and tradition. The Redskins’ fans sing ‘Hail to the Redskins’ every Sunday as an expression of honor, not disparagement.”
NFL ANNUAL MEETING: Owners ease local TV blackout restrictions, add free stadium Wi-Fi, show fans instant replay footage
The NFL has relaxed local television blackout rules, a league spokesman confirmed to NFL.com and NFL Network on Saturday.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the change, which team owners approved in May at the NFL Annual Meeting.
Home teams now will have the option of selling 85 percent of game tickets to avoid a blackout in their local TV market. Previously, teams had to sell out games or receive an exception from the league for the game to be shown on local TV.
Lowering the blackout threshold also is a matter of how revenue is shared, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
"It’s optional if clubs want to do this and would only affect a few teams," McCarthy said in an email. "Last year only 6 percent of games were blacked out in a local market. This figure is down significantly from 15 to 20 years ago when 25 to 30 percent of games were routinely blacked out."
The blackout rule originally was meant to spur fans to attend games.
"If a team chooses to do so, it may set its capacity number needed for a blackout to be lifted at 85 percent of overall capacity," McCarthy added about the new rule. "More revenue than usual will be shared with the visiting clubs for tickets sold above that base number."
At the same meeting, owners also voted to add high-speed wireless Internet to all stadiums in an effort to add home-like services to the game-day experience.
"We believe that it is important to get technology into our stadiums," Goodell said in May. "We have made the point repeatedly that the experience at home is outstanding, and we have to compete with that in some fashion by making sure that we create the same kind of environment in our stadiums and create the same kind of technology."
The league also will begin showing the same replays in stadiums that game officials see when reviewing plays, the Wall Street Journal report said.
Owners voted Wednesday at the NFL Annual Meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., to adopt the postseason overtime modified sudden death format in the regular season as well. Teams now will have the opportunity to possess the ball at least once in the extra period unless the team that receives the overtime kickoff scores a touchdown on its first possession.
Here’s a look at the NFL’s overtime procedures for both the regular season and playoffs under the new decision:
MODIFIED SUDDEN DEATH
The modified sudden death system of determining the winner shall prevail when the score is tied at the end of regulation playing time of NFL games. The system guarantees each team a possession or the opportunity to possess, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession.
» At the end of regulation time, the Referee will immediately toss a coin at the center of the field in accordance with rules pertaining to the usual pregame toss. The captain of the visiting team will call the toss prior to the coin being flipped.
» Following a three-minute intermission after the end of the regulation game, play will be continued in 15-minute periods until a winner is declared. Each team must possess or have the opportunity to possess the ball unless the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown on its initial possession. Play continues in sudden death until a winner is determined, and the game automatically ends upon any score (by safety, field goal, or touchdown) or when a score is awarded by the Referee for a palpably unfair act. Each team has three time-outs per half and all general timing provisions apply as during a regular game. The try is not attempted if a touchdown is scored. Disqualified players are not allowed to return.
» Instant Replay: No challenges. Reviews to be initiated by the replay assistant.
» Possession: Actual possession of the ball with complete control. The defense gains possession when it catches, intercepts, or recovers a loose ball.
» Opportunity to possess: The opportunity to possess occurs only during kicking plays. A kickoff is an opportunity to possess for the receiving team. If the kicking team legally recovers the kick, the receiving team is considered to have had its opportunity. A punt or a field goal that crosses the line of scrimmage and is muffed by the receiving team is considered to be an opportunity to possess for the receivers. Normal touching rules by the kicking team apply.
Following are the Approved Rulings pertaining to overtime as found on pages 106-108 of the 2010 Official Casebook of the NFL:
RULE 16-SUDDEN DEATH
NFL owners voted Wednesday at the NFL Annual Meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., to change the regular-season overtime rules to match the playoff format and have turnovers automatically reviewed.
Each team will have an opportunity for a possession in overtime unless the team that receives the first kickoff scores a touchdown on its opening drive.
Teams will no longer need to challenge turnovers, as is the case with scoring plays.
Proposals that would have changed the injured reserve designation and pushed back the trade deadline were tabled, but NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported that many executives believe both changes will be approved at a later date.
Rich McKay, the co-chair of the competition committee, said some proposals would be revisited in May after their language was tweaked or they were reviewed by the NFL Players Association.
The owners did not pass a proposal by the Buffalo Bills to have all instant replays reviewed by the booth rather than by referees on the field.
Other rules changes: a team will lose a down for illegally kicking a loose ball; too many men on the field becomes a dead-ball foul; and a player receiving a crack back block is now considered a defenseless player and will result in a 15-yard penalty.
Soon-to-be-suspended New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton is expected to arrive at the NFL Annual Meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., on Monday along with general manager Mickey Loomis, ESPN reported.
Payton’s one-year suspension for his role in the Saints’ "bounty" scandal begins on April 1. Loomis will be suspended for the team’s first eight regular-season games in 2012.
The coach will likely address the issue with the media at some point before the annual event wraps up on Wednesday.
Payton issued an apology on Friday, saying he took "full responsibility" for the bounty program the Saints used from the 2009-11 seasons.
Potential changes that the league’s 32 owners are scheduled to vote on this week could affect overtime, instant replay, the injured reserve list and the trading deadline.