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NFL owners vote to bring back instant replay for 1999 season
Posted: Thursday March 18, 1999 09:16 AM
PHOENIX (AP) -- Upon further and further and further review, instant replay is back in the NFL for the 1999 season.
The league's owners, who had killed replay every year for the last seven, overwhelmingly approved a new system Wednesday that will give coaches two challenges per game, with "a replay assistant" to determine if something is to be reviewed in the final two minutes of each half.
The referee on the field will make the final decision.
But unlike the system in effect from 1986-91, it's not intended to cover routine mistakes.
"We are implementing this system to correct the major, major, big mistake," said Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, co-chairman of the competition committee, which came up with the plan.
The action comes after a season marked by several high-profile mistakes. It even led commissioner Paul Tagliabue to propose bringing it back for the playoffs, a move that was turned down.
Wednesday's vote was 28-3, the most overwhelming vote for replay since it first came up in 1986. The three "no" votes came from Cincinnati, the New York Jets and Arizona, while the New York Giants, who had voted against it every year, were among the "yes" votes.
That was primarily the reason why replay wasn't put in for longer than one year.
"There were several teams that were traditionally against it that voted for it this time," said the other co-chairman, Rich McKay of Tampa Bay, another team that was often against replay. "They wanted to see how it works for a year before we put it in for a longer period."
Under the system to be used, coaches will have to act in the 40 seconds between the time a play ends and the ball is put back into play again to make the challenge. All said they would rely on word from an assistant upstairs.
"That won't be a problem," Holmgren said. "We always get five voices at once shouting, `yell at someone.' "
The referee on the field will then review the play. If he turns down the challenge, the team making it will lose a time out. If he upholds the challenge, the team will retain the time out.
In the final two minutes of each half, the replay assistant - probably a retired official - will stop the game if he sees a call that might be challenged, and the same procedure will be followed.
The replay assistant's challenge will extend into any overtime. That idea, which swayed the final votes to get over the total of 24 needed for approval, came from commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
"The main thing the coaches objected to was the last two minutes," Tagliabue said.
So he proposed the system in which the last two minutes of each half would be overseen by the replay assistant.
He added that George Young, the league's vice president for football operations, then told him that might break the logjam and get the votes. As general manager of the Giants and cochairman of the competition committee, Young had been replay's most steadfast opponent.
The coaches were overwhelmingly for it.
"There will be a lot of strategy for us to think about," said Wade Phillips of Buffalo, one of the teams hurt most last season by calls that were later found to be incorrect. "We'll be doing a lot of studying.
"It's not likely we're going to challenge something in the middle of the field in the second quarter," Holmgren said.
"If someone tells me our receiver was in on a 10-yard play on which he was ruled out in the second quarter, I'd probably let it go. But if it's something that can get us points, then we'd challenge."
Replay will be like the old system -- applicable to goal-line and sideline plays and possession, but not to penalties.
The league also put off a decision on the $800 million sale of the Washington Redskins to Howard and Edward Milstein and until early April. Tagliabue said there weren't enough votes to approve the sale.
The only other rule change was on clipping near the line of scrimmage, which now will apply all over the field. In the past, clipping was legal in a small area between the tackles near the line of scrimmage.
The owners also formally took away the 2003 Super Bowl from San Francisco and invited San Diego, south Florida and other locations to submit bids.
That game could be the first Super Bowl played in February.
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