Big changes could come at NFL owners meeting

The Raiders to Las Vegas, pace of play, touchdown celebrations and ejections for big hits are all on the table.

Brian Spurlock—X02835
Mar 6

The NFL owners meetings in Phoenix this coming week will be ripe with rumors about the future of the NFL both on and off the field, as plenty of important items are up on the docket to be voted on.Among them, the future location of a team that’s already moved twice in its history but could become the first NFL team to play in Sin City, speeding up the pace of play, what celebrations are legal and the possibility of the NFL adding a targeting rule.Raiders Vegas vote could come nowNFL owners could vote next week at the league meetings on the Oakland Raiders’ proposed move to Las Vegas,.The league meetings begin Sunday in Phoenix and run through March 29. The Raiders need the approval of 24 of 32 owners to relocate to Las Vegas.According to CSN California and CBS Sports, relocation is on the owners’ agenda and a vote could come as early as Monday. A vote also could be postponed until the owners’ May meetings in Chicago.One team owner told ESPN’s Dan Graziano that a vote next week is “more probable than not.” A vote would be contingent on the Raiders securing a lease and fulfilling other obligations, according to ESPN.Raiders owner Mark Davis filed an application with the league in January to move the team from Oakland to Las Vegas in time for the 2020 season.The team is proposing to build a $1.9 billion domed-roof stadium in Las Vegas, near the Strip. The stadium would be financed with $750 million in public funding and a $650 million construction loan from Bank of America, with the Raiders and the NFL adding an additional $500 million mostly from the sales of personal seat licenses.The Raiders would still need to sign a lease with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board, which is not expected to review the terms again until after the Phoenix meetings.The proposed stadium also would become home for UNLV’s football team, and Las Vegas officials expect the facility to open in 2020. The Raiders would need to play the 2019 season in a temporary facility because they have only two years remaining on their Coliseum lease.Ronnie Lott, a former Raiders defensive back, is working with Oakland officials on a plan to build a $1.3 billion stadium near the Coliseum, but it appears to be a long shot considering the lack of interest from Davis and NFL executives.The Raiders would pay a transfer fee in the range of $325 million to $375 million in connection to the proposed move to Las Vegas, Peter King of reported. That would be considerably less than the $650 million the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers each paid to move to Los Angeles.Goodell says league examining pace of playNFL commissioner Roger Goodell claims he has heard the average fan’s discontent about the pace of the game and intends to do something about it.In an email addressed to the fans on Wednesday, Goodell wrote that the NFL will make a series of changes that will help improve “the flow and pace of the game, and commercialization and the number of necessary disruptions to the game on the field.”Case in point, Goodell told the USA Today that “it drives me crazy” when he’s watching a game that shows a kickoff sandwiched around a pair of commercial breaks.”We call those ‘double-ups.’ They actually occurred 27 percent of the time (on kickoffs last season). And that’s still too high for us,” Goodell said.Goodell promised in the email that the league will tweak in-game timing and replay reviews, with next season to feature starting of a clock after a player goes out of bounds and the duration of halftime. A play clock also will be instituted after extra points.A vote is expected at the league meetings next week in Phoenix on a replay system in which referees review plays on tablets, rather than a fixed sideline monitor. The referees will provide input to the officiating headquarters in New York, which will make the final decision.”What we’re looking to do is take that down time out, which is not entertaining,” Goodell told USA Today. “And in our research, we had biofeedback, so we could see what they were watching and you could tell when they’re not as interested in what’s happening in the broadcast.”In today’s day and age, we have to give our fans every reason to watch what’s happening, find what they see on television and in the stadium as compelling. Don’t give them a reason to turn away.”Dance the night awayNFL VP of Football Operations Troy Vincent posted on Twitter this week that the NFL also plans to make some changes related to celebrations for the coming year. Or at least make them more consistent by “developing an educational training video for players to show clear examples of appropriate and inappropriate celebrations.”Vincent added that “As a former player, I understand the spontaneous nature of celebrations and have a full appreciation for it [but] There are no new celebration rules, we’re seeking clarity and consistency for both the official and the player.”So maybe not changes after all. At least NFL players — and fans — will know what’s legal before a flag is thrown.Targeting in the NFL?Vincent also tweeted that the competition committee is also exploring ways — including considering immediate ejections or suspensions — to take dangerous hits out of our game.”For those unfamiliar with targeting at the college level, if a player leads with his helmet while hitting a defenseless player, he may be ejected from the game for targeting. It’s become a highly-controversial rule, with players, coaches and fans oftentimes confused about why the player was ejected.”We’ll communicate this to our coaches and players with video examples of flagrant hits that may result in ejection or suspension,” Vincent added.The NFL uses replay plenty already, and presumably it would use replay in instances like this. The league wants to bring on a full slate of full-time officials and add centralized replay at some point, which would be beneficial if another controversial rule was added. As it stands, officials already have a lot on their plate when managing a football game.