RULES CHANGES BEING CONSIDERED AT THIS WEEK’S NFL MEETINGS
National Football League owners are meeting this week in Scottsdale, Ariz. with the most important item on the agenda being the owners’ vote on the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas.
Raiders’ owner Mark Davis has secured $750 million in public money and backing from Bank of America to build a stadium that could end up costing around $2 billion.
Davis needed 24 votes from the 32 franchise owners and Monday afternoon got the necessary votes making Oakland the third NFL franchise to move in just over a year. The Rams played last season in Los Angeles after moving from St. Louis and earlier this year the Chargers moved from San Diego to L.A.
However the Raiders could spend two or even three seasons in the Bay Area before their stadium is built and ready for play.
After the vote NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Davis spent much time explaining to the Oakland fans on ESPN that the condition of the field was unsuitable for NFL play and that they tried for a couple of years to work something out so they would not have to move, but the city didn’t want to spring for a new stadium.
They realize the next two or three seasons might be tumultuous for the team by fans who believed they had the rug pulled out from under them with the move, after the Raiders played 45 of 58 seasons in Oakland.
But the NFL owners saw it the Raiders’ way and voted 31-1 for the move to Las Vegas. Only the Miami Dolphins cast a negative vote.
The owners also will vote on eight rules changes recommended by the competition committee that met last week and seven changes proposed by the teams.
According to Sunday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle, Goodell said the competition committee that met last week would like to speed up the game and at the same time improve the product on the field.
One method of speeding up the game that should make NFL fans happy involves a centralized replay system that would make the call on replays from the league office in New York by the league’s officiating staff.
This will eliminate the time-consuming process of the head game official taking time out to “go under the hood”. Instead, he will use a tablet to review the plays with the final decisions being made by NFL vice president Dean Blandino and his officiating staff in New York.
Another proposed change would allow head coaches a third challenge if he wins one of the two challenges. As it stands now, he must be correct on both challenges before getting a third one.
And along with this one, eliminating the three challenges per team and permitting a coach to challenge any decision by a game official except on scoring plays or turnovers.
And one that has created much controversy would prohibit “leapers” who try to block field goals and extra points and another to give extra protection for defenseless receiver running a route.
The league wants teams to eliminate the summer cut-down to 75 players, leading to just one cut day at the end of the preseason games and also allowing teams to opt out of using the “color rush” jerseys in Thursday night games.
Another proposal, which especially would have been beneficial to the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, will allow clubs to negotiate with an assistant coach to be hired as a head coach even when that coach’s team is still playing in the postseason, including the Super Bowl.
A related proposal would permit a team to hire another team’s employee during the season as long as the employer consents.
The league plans to keep kickoffs the way they were last season, but the touchback to the 25-yard-line was for one year only, although the competition committee was very pleased with the results because of the increased number of touchbacks and the reduction of injuries on kickoffs.
KWICKIES…The Lamar Cardinal baseball team is finally getting on the winning track in Southland Conference games as they swept a three-game series from Incarnate Word at Vincent-Beck Stadium in Beaumont last weekend. The Redbirds downed IW 9-6 Friday, 3-1 Saturday and 5-2 Sunday. The three victories upped Lamar’s winning streak to five straight and its home win streak to seven. The Cards currently stand at 4-5 in SLC play and 15-10 overall.
Jordan Spieth is one of the odds-on favorites to win this weekend’s Shell Houston Open which begins tomorrow at the Golf Club near Humble. “I love playing the week before the Masters,” the Texan drawled. In the last three years Spieth finished tied for second, first (2015) and tied for second in the Masters. And he owes much of his success to the fact he’s played in the Shell Houston Open the week before the Masters.
A couple of holes-in one were recorded during the spring break at Sunset Grove Country Club in Orange. Bart Williams used a 5-hybrid club against a strong wind to ace the Par 3, No 14 hole over the water for his career fourth hole-in-one while Geoff Rendall hit one on the same day on No. 12.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is making one last pass at the NFL owners’ meeting in Scottsdale, AZ. to try and get something for aging quarterback Tony Romo. Both the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos are eagerly waiting for Jones to hand Romo his release. An ESPN report last week said “it’s the Texans or retirement for Romo” and also reported that Romo will have several offers from TV networks if he retires. The off-season programs for the Texans and Cowboys begin on April 17. If Romo is going to be Houston’s new starting quarterback, the Texans would like to have him at practice.
Joe Musgrove, who is on the Houston Astros opening-day 25-man roster for the first time in his career, solidified his position as the team’s No. 4 starting pitcher with another outstanding performance Sunday when he hurled five innings, giving up only one earned run and upping his spring training record to 3-0. The Astros’ five-man starting rotation seems pretty well set for opening day with Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, newcomer Charlie Morton, Musgrove and Mike Fiers. The team begins the 2017 season April 3 against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park.
I bet NOBODY had this year’s Final Four on their bracket. Two No. 1’s survived—North Carolina (31-7) and Gonzaga (36-1)—along with No. 3 Oregon(33-5) and seventh-seeded South Carolina (26-10). I picked North Carolina three weeks ago and I’m sticking with the Tar Heels this weekend. Gonzaga and South Carolina are playing in their first Final Four and play each other Saturday at 5:09 p.m. while North Carolina and Oregon lock horns later in a 7:49 p.m. tip-off at Glendale, AZ. Both games can be seen on CBS. The winners play for the mythical national championship Monday night.
JUST BETWEEN US…The West Orange-Stark state championship football team received another honor last week when the Mustangs were presented the Army National Guard Trophy for being named one of the best teams in the nation. Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Salmin Roebuck presented the trophy to Head Coach Cornel Thompson Friday during an assembly at Mustang Gym.