Goodell outlines proposals to quicken pace of games
Fewer commercial breaks, centralized replay among ideas.
For all those NFL fans longing for more action, fewer interruptions and a better flow to games, Commissioner Roger Goodell is with you.
The NFL is making plans to speed up the pace of games, including changing how video replays are handled and using a time clock for extra points. The league also is discussing with the TV networks how to make commercial breaks less intrusive.
“I watch a lot of football as a fan and as commissioner,” Goodell told The Associated Press on Wednesday after sending a letter to fans outlining the proposals. “I see when I am watching on TV or at a stadium that there are opportunities to make the game more compelling from a fan standpoint.”
For officiating replays, the referee no longer would go under a hood to watch a play. Instead, a tablet would be brought to him on the field and he would consult with league headquarters in New York. The final call would be made in New York.
Support by 75 percent of the 32 team owners would be needed at next week’s annual meetings in Phoenix for passage of the proposals.
In addition to a time clock for PATs when there is no TV break, the league is considering instituting a play clock after a touchdown.
Also, to improve the flow of games on the field and for television audiences, commercial breaks during the quarters would be reduced from 21 per game to 16 (four per period), although each would last 30 seconds longer. There are also breaks at the end of the first and third quarters.
Teams also would not be allowed to make a challenge late in a commercial break, meaning no more scenes of a referee telling the TV audience when it returns that a video review will now take place — and then the network goes to another commercial. If a team decides to challenge a call at that time, the review would be done during the commercials.
The most significant change might be centralizing officiating decisions on replays, a system that has worked well for the NHL. NFL officiating director Dean Blandino and his New York staff have been involved in the process for years, but the referee has always been the final arbiter on such calls.
“We did centralized replay with our office involved for two seasons,” Goodell said, “and this is one step further where we’re going to allow the New York office to make the final determination. We think this is very smart. We still provide for the referee’s input, but instead of going under the hood, he’ll use the tablet to see the play, and speak to Dean and have their voice. We want the referee involved when we look at replays.”
Other proposals, all with the pace of games in mind, would ensure that the clock is restarted at the proper time after a ball carrier goes out of bounds, and would standardize the length of halftimes. Regular-season halftimes are supposed to last 12 minutes, but referees have used their discretion in that area.
“We’re addressing interruptions
and just trying to move things along,” Goodell added.
Bengals: Cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones faces three misdemeanor charges, including assault, but no longer is being charged with a felony for a January confrontation with hotel security guards, police and a nurse.
A felony charge of harassment with a bodily substance, for allegedly spitting at a nurse, was dismissed at the prosecuting attorney’s request, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said.
Bears: Signed former Rams kick returner Benny Cunningham to a one-year contract. Cunningham’s 2,575 return yards over the past four years rank fourth in the league, and he had the third-highest average at 27.2 yards last season.
The Bears also re-signed defensive lineman C.J. Wilson to a one-year contract. A seven-year veteran, he appeared in six games last season and had one sack.
Lions: Re-signed defensive end Armonty Bryant, who joined the Lions via waivers during the 2016 season after playing his first three seasons in Cleveland.
Titans: Agreed to terms with veteran offensive lineman Tim Lelito. The 6-foot4, 315-pounder started 24 of his 63 games over the past four seasons with the Saints.
The NFL may do away with refs going to the sideline to view replays. Instead, a tablet would be brought on the field and the decision made in league headquarters.