NFL to send umpire memo to teams

Updated: September 6, 2010, 3:25 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The NFL will update its teams this week on the repositioning of the umpire to the offensive backfield.

A memo will be sent to the 32 clubs outlining how the change will work during the season.

A meeting of the referees and umpires will be held Friday, one day after the season opener between Minnesota and New Orleans. That meeting will "simply be to review the mechanics of the umpire position," NFL spokesman Michael Signora said Monday.

In March, the league decided for safety reasons to move umpires from the middle of the defense near the linebackers to behind the deepest running back. But Colts quarterback and four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning complained in a preseason game at Green Bay after he twice was called for illegal snaps when the umpire couldn't get into position quickly enough.

The league moved umpires back to their old spots during the final five minutes of last Thursday's final exhibition games. Previously they were in the old spot for only the final two minutes of each half.

"I don't think we'll see the full import of it until we get well into the regular season and certainly get a full season's worth of work," said Colts president Bill Polian, who also serves on the competition committee that recommended the change. "My concerns right now are simply mechanical and very easily solvable."

Moving the umpires was an easy decision for safety's sake, NFL vice president of football operations Ray Anderson said. After reviewing video showing dozens of collisions and near-collisions with players or even the ball, it became clear to the competition committee that the umpires were endangered.

"We needed to get them out of harm's way," Anderson said. "We saw too many instances when they were knocked down or were in vulnerable positions."

But the solution already has drawn protests from some players, particularly those on fast-tempo offenses.

"If we do the mechanics right, I don't think that [penalties] ought to be an issue," Polian said. "If I thought that would be a byproduct of it, obviously, I would not have voted for it. There are certain times of the game and certain downs and distance where it's going to become more of an issue, and they've got to be aware of it.

"I'm sure there are some tweaks that they will make and we'll move forward."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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