NFL Owners Meeting / Extra point up for discussion

Instant replay, playoffs also on agenda

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ORLANDO, Fla. - While National Football League owners will consider a proposal to push the extra-point attempt back to the 25-yard line, Steelers president Art Rooney II would rather see the league consider the idea advanced by his coach, Mike Tomlin, who advocates moving the ball closer - to the 1-yard line.

Tomlin is a member of the league's competition committee that will present 13 rule-amending proposals to the team owners when the NFL's annual meetings begin Monday at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes, but his idea to move the extra point closer to the goalline is merely that - a suggestion, not a proposal that will be voted upon by the league's 32 owners.

"That would help the two-point conversion," Rooney said. "You can either kick or go for two from the 1, which to me, there's something to be said for it. It certainly would encourage people to go for the two. It's not as extreme as moving the ball back to the 20 or 25-yard line. I kind of like that proposal."

The proposal to move the extra-point attempt to the 25-yard line - equivalent to a 43-yard field goal - was made by the New England Patriots, who believe the change would make the conversion kick a more competitive play. The Patriots have also proposed raising the goalpost from 30 feet to 35 feet above the crossbar, reducing the possibility of high kicks crossing over the top of the uprights that make it difficult for officials to determine if the attempt was good.

No surprise there. Two years ago, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was fined for grabbing a replacement official following a last-second loss to the Baltimore Ravens after the winning field goal appeared to sail above the upright.

"I am not sure I see a great need for it, but I am not necessarily all that worried about it, either," Rooney said.

Instant replay will again generate discussion at the meetings, this time to decide if replay review should include allowing the referee to consult with the league's officiating department in New York.

Another proposal by the Patriots would allow any ruling by an official to be challenged, and a proposal by the competition committee would allow possession in the field of play to be reviewed. The latter nearly cost the Steelers in Green Bay last season when Ryan Clark was ruled to not have possession of a blocked field goal when he lateralled the ball to William Gay. Because Ziggy Hood batted the loose ball out of bounds, the Packers were awarded the ball at the 2 and scored a touchdown on the next play.

Tomlin was not allowed to challenge the play. That would change if the competition committee's proposal is passed.

"We are in favor of that one," Rooney said, smiling. Rooney is concerned that the additional discussion during a replay review, in addition to allowing more reviewable plays, could slow the game even more.

"Again, our goal is to get it right, not necessarily to have more replays or more delays in the game," Rooney said.

One issue that is not expected to be voted upon but will be discussed at length is expanding the playoff format in 2015 to allow 14 teams - two more than normal - into the postseason. That would generate more revenue, something the league had hoped to do by expanding the regular season to 18 games. That idea appears to have all but been abandoned because of strong opposition from the players union. If the playoff-expansion plan were in place in 2013, the Steelers would have been in the postseason.

"Let's put it this way, I am not opposed [to the idea]," Rooney said. "This year would have been a year that would have been some benefit to us."

Among the other rule and bylaw proposals is moving kickoffs to 40-yard line, just three years after they moved it from the 30 to the 35, and increasing game-day rosters from 46 to 49 players for regular-season games on days other than Sunday and Monday, a move designed for player safety in a short week.

While not in proposal form, Rooney said the owners will discuss sportsmanship, principally the use of abusive or offensive language on the field. The league has maintained there are already rules in place that penalize players for offensive language, but Rooney said the discussion will likely center on the use of certain words that are race and gender sensitive.


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