Expect rules, not Robert Kraft case, to be on NFL owners’ agenda this week
The NFL owners are meeting Tuesday night and all day Wednesday in Miami to clean up a few leftover items from their meetings two months ago.
On the agenda: Voting to allow tweaks to the new instant replay/pass interference rules, voting on the Chiefs’ proposal to allow both teams a possession in overtime, and perhaps naming the sites of future NFL drafts.
What’s unclear is whether the owners also will address a certain incident regarding Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Commissioner Roger Goodell and the 31 other owners took a pass in late March when they convened in Phoenix for three days of meetings. Kraft’s legal issues — he has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of soliciting prostitution — were never brought up in the room, and the few owners who were willing to talk off the record said they were taking a wait-and-see approach.
Goodell, who has the authority to punish Kraft under the league’s personal conduct policy, said he would consider the case “after we get all the facts, we have all the information, and we’ll be fair and smart about it.”
One league source said at the time that Goodell was facing fairly significant pressure inside the league office not to let Kraft slide without punishment, but another league source said Kraft may escape punishment if he shows an outpouring of contrition and philanthropy.
But a lot has happened in the last two months. Kraft’s lawyers earned a major victory last week by getting video evidence tossed from court, leaving the state of Florida’s case dangling by a thread, though the state is appealing.
Assuming the charges haven’t been dropped by Wednesday and the case remains open, Goodell will likely take a pass again on any decisions on Kraft’s fate by the end of the meetings.
Instead, Goodell and the owners will focus on the few major items left over from March’s meetings. Most notably, the Competition Committee wants to take a longer look at the new instant replay/pass interference rules, which were rammed through the legislative process in March at the behest of Saints coach Sean Payton.
Per NFL.com, the owners won’t vote this time to change the rule, but instead to allow the Competition Committee to tweak it without owner approval. Payton is one of 10 coaches, general managers, and owners on the committee.
The new rule will allow pass interference calls — and non-calls — to be reviewable. It marks the first time that a coach can challenge to put a penalty flag on the field, and it could have significant consequences. The rule has been approved for only one year, and will be reconsidered again next offseason.
Per the report, the committee is considering removing these calls from the automatic replay review that comes inside the final two minutes of each half, out of fears that every single play could be looked at by the replay judge.
The owners also will discuss the Chiefs’ proposal to change overtime, which derived from their loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. The Chiefs want both teams to have an offensive possession in overtime and also eliminate the OT coin toss. But their proposal was tabled in March after not having much support, and NFL.com reported that it is unlikely to have much support again this week.
The NFL also will consider player-safety rules such as the elimination of the Oklahoma Drill (in which a ball carrier takes on two defenders in a short space) and other dangerous practice drills. NFL data show that concussions in games have decreased over the last few years, but concussions in practice, especially training camp, have remained static.
The NFL also may announce the sites of future NFL Drafts. The only one currently scheduled is next year’s in Las Vegas.