Owners table reseeding playoffs proposal; pass other rules

Updated: April 2, 2008, 7:08 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- NFL owners concluded their annual meeting with quick passages of several proposals and by tabling the idea to reseed teams for the playoffs.

Without the necessary 24 votes to pass a reseeding plan to give wild-card teams the chance to host playoff games, the competition committee tabled the concept until a later meeting, most likely in May.

Competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons, was not surprised about the lack of support for reseeding, in which a wild-card team with a better record than a division winner would play at home in the first round.

"This idea we wanted to push this year to get the discussion going," McKay said. "There were not a lot of hands up, so we withdrew the proposal for now.

"There is the historical idea that a division champion should have a home game."

That was exactly why Patriots owner Robert Kraft opposed reseeding.

"I do believe if you win a division, it's good for your fans to know you will have a home game," Kraft said. "To win a division, there is a reward and we wanted to keep that."

There remains concern about late-season games becoming meaningless when teams already have secured their playoff positions. Commissioner Roger Goodell indicated discussions of reseeding are still alive.

"The focus, I said to the competition committee, is what are the alternatives we have to make sure every game is as competitive as possible," Goodell said. "I think the debate was good."

Among the proposals that were passed:

• A recommendation to eliminate force-out decisions on pass completions near the sidelines. Now, officials will have to decide only whether a receiver landed inbounds or not. The intended result is more consistency.

• The "Phil Dawson field goal rule." Now, certain field goals can be reviewed by instant replay, including kicks that bounce off the uprights. Under the previous system, no field goals could be reviewed.

• Deferring the opening coin toss. This is similar to the college rule. Previously, the winner of the coin toss could choose only to receive or to kick off.

• A direct snap from center that goes backward will now be treated as a fumble. Previously, it was ruled a false start.

• Eliminating the 5-yard face mask penalty. Now, only the serious face mask will be called (and will be assessed as a 15-yard penalty). The major foul will involve twisting or grabbing the face mask.

Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher said eliminating the force-out rule was approved unanimously and that it will help officiating. A receiver now must get two feet inbounds unless he actually is carried out of bounds by a defender after catching the ball.

Fisher also noted how strongly deferring the choice on the coin toss was accepted. The vote was 30-2.

"I was surprised by the support. We'll see how that goes," he said. "It now gives coaches a third option. After talking to a number of coaches, many prefer to start on offense. I think we may see [more] deferrals later in the year with weather considerations."

On Tuesday, the league tabled a Kansas City Chiefs proposal to prohibit hair hanging over the back of jerseys to the nameplate, and passed a rule to allow defensive players to wear radio helmets.

John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer

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