- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2003

PHOENIX Change doesn't often come fast in the NFL. So it was no surprise yesterday when the league's owners wrapped up their annual spring meetings by failing to approve a change to the overtime rule and tabling a proposed expansion from 12 to 14 playoff teams.
The concept of giving each team at least one possession in overtime on a one-year experimental basis, proposed by Kansas City, needed 24 of 32 votes to pass. The vote was 17-14 in favor with Oakland's iconoclastic Al Davis, as usual, abstaining.
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Washington coach Steve Spurrier, who spent 15 of the previous 16 years in the college game, was a particularly strong voice for keeping the sudden death system. Tagliabue said there were concerns that there would be more ties and coaches would play more conservatively on the opening possession of overtime.
"People thought we had the best rule right now with a lot of excitement," Tagliabue said. "We've been bragging all year about [a record 25] overtime games, and we'll continue to be bragging next year."
The playoff expansion, proposed by Kansas City and New England, was put off until the May 21-22 meeting in Philadelphia, with no assurance that it will be voted on then.
Tagliabue said although the plan coming to Phoenix was to stick with the 1-year-old system of eight division winners and four wild card teams at least through this season, there was a strong enough feeling in support of adding an extra playoff team in each conference to necessitate further study over the next two months. The major issues are the competitive advantage of only one team in each conference having a bye and how the television networks would fit six games into the opening playoff weekend.
The commissioner said Cleveland's proposal, which could have allowed coaches to keep their replay challenges if successful, was "soundly rejected" with the idea of making the concept part of an examination of the current replay system after its mandated expiration following this season.
Meanwhile, the 2007 Super Bowl still seems to be headed to Miami.

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