Let's be honest. Would you want to attend a working holiday and be bothered by four dozen or more reporters?
If you answered yes, then you will understand the lack of breaking news from this week's annual NFL owners' meetings in Maui.
For a decade or more, the NFL has been skipping Hawaii as a site for its March meetings because of the distance for East Coast teams and the overall extravagance of the setting. In fact, when the Ritz Carlton Kapalua was selected, some of us guessed a few years ago that this week would end up being Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's swan song. His final meeting.
But that's not even true, as the owners renewed Tagliabue's contract last year and increased his total compensation package to over $10 million annually. Yes, why retire at 65 when the living is good?
Still, the NFL has some headaches. Namely, getting a deal done with the NFL Players Association, and extending the current collective bargaining agreement.
The league has termed the renewal talks "as the toughest negotiations we've had since 1992." The NFL has acquiesced on including all league and club revenue (VIP seating, local-radio television contracts, etc.) into the revenue pie. But the two sides remain far apart on what the players' percentage share of those billions will be.
Currently, the players receive 64 percent of the designated gross revenues. There seems to be no way the owners will budge much above 65 percent of everything, considering they all want to make a profit, plus coaching and front-office staff salaries have also mushroomed in the last decade. The league is too smart and too wealthy to risk losing everything like the NHL did this past season.
Although progress has been slow, the owners probably will make a deal once they have finalized the network television contracts for the Sunday and Monday night prime-time packages. However, the final television contracts may not be completed until early next season unless Disney makes a deal and simply has ESPN assume Monday night football from ABC. If that happens, there will be two Sunday night packages to sell to either a network or a cable network.
The meetings officially begin on Sunday and there will be some competition committee news and votes probably by Wednesday. Three head coaches won't attend: Bill Parcells of the Cowboys
, Mike Martz of the Rams
and Brian Billick of the Ravens
. Parcells hates to fly.
There will also be a vote on awarding the 2010 Super Bowl to New York City, contingent on the construction of a new Westside stadium. However, the odds of that happening remain under 50 percent. The league plans to award the 2009 Super Bowl at its late-May meetings in Washington, D.C. to either Tampa, Atlanta, Miami or Houston.
The railyards where a proposed Jets football stadium would be built.
(Chris Hondros / GettyImages)
There are several things that won't happen at these meetings. Reggie Fowler, the prospective new owner of the Minnesota Vikings
, won't be attending and his approval most likely won't happen until May. The Super Bowl ticket scalping issue and Vikings
coach Mike Tice's alleged involvement won't be discussed. Also, Tagliabue did meet with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday regarding a franchise in the Los Angeles area, but no site will be formally selected at this meeting. The Los Angeles Coliseum, the Rose Bowl, Anaheim and even Carson are still involved in the bidding.
The league was pretty happy with the increased scoring this year (42.9 points per game, sixth-highest in league history) due to the officiating emphasis on defensive holding and illegal contact penalties. In fact, the latter penalty was called 191 times last season after being whistled only 79 times during the 2003 season. Mainly, that penalty led to a slight decrease in pass interference penalties last season (202, down from 238).
The NFL Competition Committee is looking at several rule changes, plus a couple minor alterations to the instant replay system that still has four more seasons of life. The buzzer system for head coaches will be abolished (flags only will be used) while Falcons
GM Rich McKay, one of two chairmen of the influential committee, wants to add down by contact to the plays that can be reviewed by the instant replay system. McKay said the wording has to be exact, considering an officials' whistle can blow such a play dead and thus negate its chance of being reviewed.
There is a good chance of passing a new 15-yard unnecessary roughing penalty that could be termed the Warren Sapp
-George Foster penalty.
Believe it or not, the committee wants to outlaw legal blocks like the one Sapp made on Packers
offensive tackle Chad Clifton
two seasons ago, similar to the ones used by players to apply vicious blocks on wimpy punters and kickers. There were several injuries to those players on returns last season.
On some teams, special team players look to try to take out the opposing team's punter or kicker. Essentially, they are fair game. But McKay said there were a few instances in which they were injured last year "while far away from the actual tackle being made on the returner."
When Sapp applied a blind-side block to Clifton, who was a good 30 yards away from the play, it was legal under the current rules. Packers
coach Mike Sherman thought the hit was unnecessary and went after Sapp, who was playing for Tampa Bay at the time, after the game ended. Sapp told Sherman to go put a uniform on, among other things.
And last season, during a Monday night game in Cincinnati, Broncos
offensive lineman Geroge Foster ended Bengals
defensive tackle Tony Williams
' season with a low block, fracturing the player's left ankle. Williams was carted off and the block, although legal, brought more attention to the style of blocking condoned by coaching staffs in Denver and Atlanta, where offensive line coach Alex Gibbs worked last season.
McKay said that if the new penalty passes, it will allow the league office to levy fines against suspecting players if the block isn't flagged on the field. McKay said that players on the NFLPA's own committee were in favor of this new unnecessary roughness penalty. The two sides met last month in Indianapolis to review specific rule changes.
"We would simply like to get certain hits out of the game," McKay said. "There are too many players getting wiped out who are not involved in the play. It happens on some screen plays where defenders are blocked from the side and they have no idea where the blocker is coming from."
1. Redskins - Check
2. Dolphins - Check
3. Arizona -