NFL LOCKOUT: Week two, Owners to meet in New Orleans

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has written a letter to the fans, but has not been as vocal as some of the league's other owners during the labor dispute. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has written a letter to the fans, but has not been as vocal as some of the league's other owners during the labor dispute. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

The NFL owners started gathering in New Orleans on Sunday.

The meetings, which will have a decidedly labor tone, will run through Tuesday.

The NFL owners meeting comes after more than 100 players, including Falcons player representative Coy Wire, from the NFLPA met in Florida last week for their annual meeting.

In addition to more comments on the labor situation and the league’s desire to return to negotiations, the league’s competition committee will propose major changes to kickoffs and use of instant replay.

Ray Anderson, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, and Falcons president Rich McKay, the chairman of the competition committee, held a teleconference last week to preview the changes.

PLAYER FINES: Anderson made it clear that repeat offenders will face suspension. “We need to be aggressive in disciplining players,” Anderson said.Last season, several players, including Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson, were fined for hits to defenseless players, but none were suspended. Robinson was fined $50,000, an amount later reduced to $25,000.

“The emphasis is on head and neck hits and what a defenseless player is,” Anderson said.

The league will go back two years to determine repeat offenders.

MODIFIED KICKOFF: Because of the injury rate on kickoffs, the competition committee proposes that the kickoff line be moved from the 30-yard line to the 35 and that no player other than the kicker may line up more than 5 yards behind the kickoff line. The touchback on the kickoff would be moved from the 20 to the 25.

The committee concluded that there are still too many injuries occurring on kickoffs, and the new rules would restrict the running start a player can get on a kickoff.

DEFENSELESS PLAYERS: In addition to the kickoff changes, the committee will propose a clarification on the defenseless player rule to include receivers until they clearly become runners and to modify instant replay to include automatic review of all scoring plays.

The receivers will join the quarterback, returners catching kicks or punts, runners in the grasp, players on the ground, a kicker or a punter in getting additional protection as defenseless players.

They are trying to standardize the protection for all eight categories of the defenseless player. Those eight categories include

*         the quarterback or the player in the act of or just after throwing a pass;

*         the receiver attempting to catch a pass, which includes the receiver who hasn’t completed a catch or had time to protect himself;

*         number three is a runner who’s already in the grasp of a tackler and whose forward progress has been stopped;

*         number four is a kickoff or punt returner attempting to field a kick in the air;

*         number five is a player on the ground at the end of a play;

*         number six is a kicker or punter during the kick or during the return;

*         number seven is quarterback at any time after a change of possession;

*         and number eight is a player who receives a blindside block. So those are the eight categories of defenseless players. We just want to be sure that we write the rules very clearly and that all eight of those categories have the exact same protection.

“We also, within that rule, will add a category that will prohibit illegal launching, which will prohibit people from leaving their feet, springing forward and upward, and delivering a blow with any part of his helmet or facemask,” McKay said.

INSTANT REPLAY: The instant-replay proposal has two parts: A decision to review scoring plays would rest in the hands of the replay official, not the coach, and the third challenge would be eliminated.

NO RE-SEEDING: Re-seeding teams for the playoffs was discussed, but will not be proposed to the owners.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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21 comments Add your comment

Sid

March 21st, 2011
10:18 am

Can the fans get a seat at the table!

Sid

March 21st, 2011
10:20 am

Dunta’s hit was good hard football.

Sid

March 21st, 2011
10:22 am

The kickoff modification reminds me when I played PeeWee Football…………….

Sid

March 21st, 2011
10:26 am

I guess we need to change the NFL from the National Football League to the National Flag Lilly’s, if you are making all these changes for recievers then maybe the defense should get a 12th man on the field.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 21st, 2011
10:40 am

Sid — Fans have a seat at the table. Fans will get to vote with their cash. Fans can hold onto it when they ask for season tickets payments or send it to the owners.

Sid — Dunta’s hit was a launch. Not a form tackle.

Sid — Someone on the committee wanted to end the kickoff all together

Sid — I concur.

Carter Burger

March 21st, 2011
10:41 am

Sid, it’s more like the No Fun League. Just like NASCAR has legislated the ‘drive’ out of it’s drivers, the NFL is trying to legislate the drive out of it’s players. This is a sport where you are required to hit somebody….the NFL is trying to get rid of that requirement.

FalconJim

March 21st, 2011
10:55 am

LET ‘EM PLAY THE GAME!!!!!!!!!!

Infamous

March 21st, 2011
11:12 am

Seems like too much to think about when trying to a tackle. Why not just play with the same rules as the Pro Bowl? Seems like the league wants to take the defense out of the game anyway. Give the defenses a chance. Teams are already starting to go with all of these spread offenses since the DBs can not lay a finger on WRs without a penalty. Allow DBs to use hands for 10 yards. Otherwise, we are going to start seeing basketball scores on the boards.

Ken Stallings

March 21st, 2011
11:24 am

My decision comes in a few weeks when, if this lockout continues, I contact DirecTV to cancel my NFL Sunday Ticket subscription! Less than petty cash for the owners, but if a few million people do likewise, it will get their attention!

ken herock

March 21st, 2011
11:27 am

I find it funny that the owners will be discussing rule changes to a game that they have decided to suspend for the time being.

tincup

March 21st, 2011
11:39 am

You got players making $million a game but you cant hit them. Let them play the game its FOOTBALL for chirst sake.They know what they getting into before all the rules come into play.

McNasty

March 21st, 2011
12:45 pm

Sorry DOL I’m not with you on this one. First, Dunta’s feet were on the ground with the hit. He also didn’t hit him in his head or facemask. You said this same thing that following week but photos prove you wrong. Don’t be like some politician and ignore your own eyes. Second withholding payments is not a vote of any consequence because this would not reduce owner income since one would just lose their season tickets to someone that will pay now. There are many more fans than seasons tickets. A seat at the table would require a collective “fan” agreement to infulence and protect our interests. It could be done!

Clinton "Skink" Tyree

March 21st, 2011
12:45 pm

We are like the Romans: we love to see our gladiator’s valor and blood.

kirkinga

March 21st, 2011
1:25 pm

Just as there is much more to appreciate in racing than just the fiery crashes, so it is with the NFL and hitting guys when they are not in a position to hit you back. Injured players costs teams money and possibly some games so if the NFL cam slightly modify the violence it would make sense.

Those who say “you can’t touch the quarterback or receiver anymore” haven’t been paying attention.

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Ken Stallings

March 21st, 2011
4:44 pm

You know, I really don’t watch a football game to see a player get carried off on a stretcher!

So, if these new rules can let us go an entire year without seeing that happen, I’m fine with it!

Then again, the sad fact is this may happen because the season will be locked out and the fans will rebel against another attempt of using replacement players.

Bangkapi Ajarn

March 21st, 2011
5:52 pm

I saw whre the owners meting will NOT be issuing comp picks this time around. Don’t know if that means the announcement is delayed of picks awarded, or if there ARE bo comp picks this year (it was part of the now expired CBA).

Pretty sure the Falcons wouldn’t have received any picks, but it WOULD affect the Falcons in that rounds 4-7 would slide down, behind comp picks awarded in rounds 3-6.

Any word on this, DOL?

SeenThisB4

March 21st, 2011
6:11 pm

Dumta led with his helmet on that hit…he most assuredly deserved to be fined, he should have been suspended.

Sid

March 21st, 2011
6:46 pm

Darrell, I went back and looked again at the Dunta hit, his feet are on the ground and his helmet hit his shoulder, not his head. See for yourself………….

http://tinyurl.com/4vw9tbo

SeenThisB4

March 21st, 2011
6:56 pm

…his helmet hit his shoulder…(depending on the angle you’re looking at)…. his helmet his shoulder…, in other words, he led with his helmet, with an obvious intent to knock the senses out of Jackson, to put it nicely, .He’s a thug and he should have been suspended at the very least for 4 games.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 21st, 2011
9:05 pm

Bangkapi Ajarn — I’ve heard they wouldn’t be announcing the comp picks at the owner’s meeting, too. However, I also was told that we’d get an official draft order this week, too. As soon as I get it, I’ll post the order.