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NFL, players' union agree on play-for-pay pool

Posted: Monday March 18, 2002 3:19 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- NFL players will be able to earn more money for the number of downs they are on the field this season.

The league and the players' union agreed on a system that will distribute money for the amount of action each player gets. The funds will come from a special pool, although it will be part of player costs under the salary cap.

Lower-salaried players will get the majority of the share of the pool.

"Factored into the formula is a player's [salary] compensation," Harold Henderson, chairman of the NFL's management council, said Monday at the league meetings. "All players are eligible. The pool will be a modest number this year, it grows each year, and by '06, we think it will be about $250 million that has been put into the pool."

Playing time will be measured by the number of downs in which a player participates against the number of downs he is eligible to play. For example, an offensive or defensive player who also is on the field for special teams will get a bigger chunk of the money distributed.

Henderson estimated less than $15 million will be in the 2002 pool.

"There will be a substantial incremental increase year to year," he added. "It will be a nominal sum for a high-priced player to as much as $150,000 [by 2006] for minimum-salary guys who get a lot of playing time. And we have a lot of them each year. It's not inconceivable that 75 percent of the money could go to lower-paid players."

All of the money must be distributed each season, Henderson said.

Rules proposals being discussed at NFL meetings

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - The NFL's competition committee will ask owners to discuss the following proposals during the NFL Meetings this week:

1. The tuck rule. Should the line of demarcation be changed from when the ball is fully tucked in against the body by a player to when the motion to stop the throw begins? The committee seeks to take as much judgment as possible out of the official's call, but is satisfied with the current rule.

2. On a kickoff, the clock should start only when the ball is legally touched on the field of play. If the receiving team touches it in the end zone, the clock won't start until the player returns it from the end zone. The current rule has the clock starting when the ball is kicked -- except in the last two minutes of each half and overtime, when it starts once the ball is touched on the field of play.

3. Inside two minutes of either half, the clock stops on a sack until the ball is respotted. The committee believes that rewards the offense for a bad play and is suggesting the clock not stop after a sack unless a timeout is called.

4. Eliminating the second onside kick once the first one is illegally touched or goes out of bounds before traveling 10 yards. Again, the committee believes the second kick rewards a negative play.

5. The playoff-seeding system. With realignment and a totally different schedule, tiebreakers can be more cumbersome. Common games also become more critical with as many as 14 of them possible for teams tied in the standings.

6. Clarifying the pylon rule. Players who hit the pylon at the corner of the end zone only should be declared out of bounds if some other part of the body hits the boundary line. The league doesn't want to penalize a player for hitting the vertical object, which is considered in-bounds. Several times last season, players who stretched and hit the pylon were declared out of bounds.

7. A bylaws proposal to limit artificial noise such as music and electronic cheers. The Minnesota Vikings long have been criticized by visiting teams, who believe dealing with such noise is a competitive disadvantage, especially in a dome. A substantial fine would be levied to violating teams.

8. Helmet-to-helmet hits on quarterbacks after a change of possession on an interception or fumble should be outlawed. The proposal states the quarterbacks should be protected from those hits even if they have taken a distinctive defensive position.

9. Removal of the rules language saying a player can't bat or stroke a ball that is in possession of another player. For years, stripping the ball from an opponent has been accepted, even if it seems to violate this rule.

No cable boon for National Football League

Football fans, keep your antennas. There's no rush to cable TV for the NFL.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Monday he doesn't foresee any substantial changes in the league's presence on over-the-air networks. The current $17.6 billion contract runs through 2005 and has Sunday NFC road teams telecast by FOX; Sunday AFC road teams on CBS; Monday night games on ABC; and Sunday night games on ESPN --the only cable presence.

"he future I see is we will continue to have the mass of our games on broadcast television,"Tagliabue said at the league owners' meetings. "We will be developing a number of different television offerings. We have plenty of opportunities to stay on broadcast television."

Tagliabue mentioned the potential use of digital television, as well as the Internet, to enhance the product.

No snow Super Bowl

The owner of the team in one of the NFL's coldest climates doesn't like the idea of playing the Super Bowl in an outdoor stadium in the north.

"The championship game should be played in championship conditions," Buffalo Bills owners Ralph Wilson said Monday.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has suggested the owners consider playing the 2007 game in New York or Washington, in part out of respect for the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. To do that, they would have to lift the rule that the game be played either indoors or at sites where the temperature in January or February averages 50 degrees or more.

"We have an interest in bringing our ultimate game to those markets," Tagliabue said, "and it's not just a short-term consideration. Eventually, if we do our job right, people we see it has merit."

So far, only two Super Bowls have been played in cold-weather sites: at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1982 and at the Metrodome in Minneapolis in 1992.

Dirty business

Player agent Frank Bauer, who recently lost likely No. 1 draft pick David Carr to another agent, said Monday that his business was "worse than ruthless."

Bauer, who has free-agent quarterback Chris Chandler in his stable, lost Carr as a client in January. Carr, the Fresno State quarterback, signed with Bauer, then switched to another agent after receiving a letter detailing the involvement of Bauer's former partner, Mike Blatt, in a 1989 California murder case.

Bauer long ago ended his partnership with Blatt.

"When a person signs with a first-class athlete, that's when the sharks come out, and the sharks came out on this," Bauer told reporters at the NFL owners' meetings.

No replay discussions

One of the hottest topics at recent NFL meetings isn't even on the agenda this time. Instant replay to aid game officials barely will be discussed, since the current system was approved for three years in 2001.

The league's competition committee did not recommend any changes in the coaches' challenge setup that began in 1999.

"I think it is set in stone," commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Monday. "There is a general feeling that it is working well.

"Generally, people are satisfied with it giving us the ability to review the game-breaking or season-breaking call without interrupting the flow of the game."


 
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