- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 25, 2003

SAN DIEGO NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue isn't happy with Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.
At a news conference yesterday following his annual state of the league address at the Super Bowl, Tagliabue criticized the attempt to have legislation passed in Virginia that would excuse Snyder from paying injured players workman's compensation benefits.
"We had a moratorium on running to state legislatures," Tagliabue said. "It's an issue that should be resolved at the collective bargaining table. The best way to do that is to make the collective bargaining agreement compatible with a national system of workman's compensation."
Tagliabue did note the persistence of the issue, saying it has been on the NFL's table for at least the 35 years that he has worked for the league.
"We would be thrilled if this issue was handled at the next collective bargaining negotiations," Redskins attorney Melissa Bernstein said. "Unfortunately, that hasn't happened up until now, and we have been dealing with this problem for a long time. Thirteen teams have addressed the issue in their states [not all successfully], and we feel that we should be able to as well."
Bernstein said the Redskins are paying between $1million and $2million annually in workman's compensation.
Tagliabue's unhappiness with Snyder seemed to spill over into the commissioner's comments on one of his pet projects playing a Super Bowl in New York or Washington, the cities victimized by the September 11 terrorist attacks.
While saying he still believes New York and Washington would be fine Super Bowl hosts despite this week's record chill in the Northeast and the announced opposition by several NFL owners, Tagliabue mentioned the ongoing efforts to lure the game by the Jets and Giants but did not cite any such work by the Redskins. The first such possible game wouldn't be played until 2008.
Meanwhile, Tagliabue expects the NFL to use a new overtime system next season, with each team getting at least one possession.
Tagliabue predicted team owners would scrap the sudden-death format in March at their annual meetings.
"We are reassessing it with members of the competition committee and our staff," Tagliabue said.
There were a record 25 overtime games during the regular season, and 10 of them (40 percent) were decided on the first possession. The only OT game during the playoffs also was decided on the first possession.
Since the league adopted overtime in 1974, 97 of 342 games that went to extra time (28.3 percent) ended on the first possession.
"When the membership looks at that trend," Tagliabue said, "that advantage of receiving first is becoming unbalanced. How we fine-tune the rule, I don't know."
Tagliabue does not expect changes to the way games are officiated despite several high-profile gaffes, including in two postseason games. In general, Tagliabue said, the on-field calls were correct, the exception being at the end of San Francisco's 39-38 wild-card win over the New York Giants.
Issues Tagliabue addressed:
The league has no plans to expand in the next decade, although if a state-of-the-art stadium is built in Los Angeles, the owners have indicated they would consider putting a team in the nation's second-largest city.
He also said such a stadium would make Los Angeles a prime candidate to play host to a Super Bowl.
Tagliabue addressed criticism of the Cowboys for hiring Bill Parcells and the Jaguars for hiring Jack Del Rio instead of minority candidates.
"Bill Parcells is a world-class coach," Tagliabue noted. "How you can criticize that in terms of fair employment policies, I don't get it.
"The Jaguars have a terrific record in this area, and yesterday they hired James Harris" as vice president of player personnel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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