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March 11, 1997

Replay's return still unlikely as vote nears

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AP Football Writer
PALM DESERT, Calif., Mar. 11 - Most coaches want it. Some owners and
general managers don't, while others aren't sure.

As usual, instant replay in the NFL remains a controversial, divisive

A revised version of the system the league used for six years to help
with officiating calls has been presented to the owners for a vote that
could come today. Bill Cowher, Mike Holmgren and Dennis Green, the three
members of the competition committee who are coaches, are for it. The
four other members of the committee - Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Bengals
president Mike Brown, Giants GM George Young, and Buccaneers GM Rich
McKay - are not.

``The coaches are overwhelmingly in favor of it, just as they were last
year,'' said Holmgren, who claims 27 of the 30 coaches would vote yes.
``If we can change a call and not slow down the game - and I'm not
talking about ticky-tacky plays, but plays that affect the final outcome
- and we have the tools to do it, why not do it? I think it will be real
close, but I think we have a chance.''

His boss, Packers GM Ron Wolf, made it clear the team would vote for the
return of replay on a limited basis. But he was pessimistic about it

``As of now, I'd say it's going down,'' Wolf said. ``It's a gut feeling,
but what I'm hearing is, it is not going to pass.

``It adds to the game. We have such amazing technology available to us
in the United States. This is one more step to enable a wrong to be

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said he has no feel for how a vote would
turn out.

``Four clubs - Dallas, the New York Giants, Tampa Bay and Cincinnati -
continue to be against. If you come in with four teams strongly opposed
- and someone told me the Bears said publicly they are opposed - and you
need eight teams to block it, you should have some interesting
discussions,'' Tagliabue said.

The proposed system would apply to all possession and out-of-bounds
plays. It would require a challenge by a coach who believes a call was
wrong, and the coach would have to spend a timeout, regardless of
whether the call is overturned. Teams would get only two challenges a

The play would be reviewed on the field by the referee, rather than by a
replay official in a booth.

A similar system was used as an experiment in 1996 preseason games.

``This is a replay concept true to the origins of replay,'' Tagliabue
said. ``It was never intended to make a lot of calls, but to provide a
recall for that call that was obvious. I think this is a sound concept
to deal with when you work 52 weeks a year, to have a check on that rare
call that can take away all the fruits of all that you have worked

Also discussed Monday was expansion, ownership policy and an obscure
portion of the collective bargaining agreement that will keep the salary
cap relatively level for the next couple of seasons, even if TV money
increases markedly next year.

The cap cut will slice $4 million off each team's salary cap, either for
1998 alone or 1998 and 1999. While TV revenue should increase
substantially when a new deal is negotiated later this year, next year's
cap isn't likely to grow much more than the $700,000 to $1 million it
will wind up increasing this year.

Tagliabue also said the regular-season format of 16 games won't change,
although the preseason schedule might be condensed to four weeks, with
American Bowl games and the Hall of Fame game incorporated in those four
weeks. Currently, some teams plays five preseason games because they
appear in games abroad or in the Hall of Fame game at Canton, Ohio.

(Copyright 1997 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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State and Regional Sports Pages--San Angelo Standard-Times

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