- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2007

The increasing frequency of off-field incidents involving such players as Tennessee’s Pacman Jones have prompted Roger Goodell to strengthen the NFL’s personal conduct policy, which the commissioner plans to unveil Tuesday at league meetings in Arizona.

“In developing an appropriate policy, the commissioner wants to have input from as many constituencies as possible,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. “He’s spoken to Gene Upshaw and Troy Vincent [leaders of the NFL Players Association] extensively. He’s talked to players, owners, head coaches, front office executives and outside experts. He’s been very encouraged by the strong stance the players have taken in looking for a more effective policy.”

While Goodell likely will make his first mark as commissioner with that announcement, the league’s competition committee will propose a number of rule changes. Chief among them will be making the instant replay system permanent instead of subject to approval every few years.

“Replay has been an accepted part of our game for a number of years,” said Atlanta general manager Rich McKay, co-chairman of the competition committee. “It has worked quite well. College football has gone to an instant replay system, so we feel now is the time to go on a permanent basis. At the same time, we’ll propose that we convert the replay equipment in all our stadiums into high-definition.”

Even if permanent replay isn’t approved by the necessary 24 owners, the current system is in place through 2008.

Another proposal is to install an earpiece in the helmet of one defensive player to balance that of the quarterback.

“It’s competitively fair, and we have the technology to do it,” McKay said.

Other proposals include moving the overtime kickoff from the 30- to the 35-yard line to reduce the impact of the coin toss; a 5-yard penalty for spiking the ball in the field; making all penalties, except offensive holding, subject to replay; increasing game day rosters from 45 to 47; increasing the time to rub down kicking balls to make them less slick; and differentiating between minor (15 yards) and major pass interference penalties.

McKay said that during the first 20 years of overtime, the winner of the coin toss emerged victorious as often as did the loser but that since kickoffs were moved from the 35 to the 30 in 1994, 62 percent of coin toss winners have won the game.

“We believe we can make the coin toss less of a factor if we make the move [back] on the kickoff,” McKay said.

The owners also will vote on whether teams will be able to conduct second head coaching interviews with Super Bowl assistants in the week after the conference championship games so those candidates wouldn’t be negatively affected by their current teams’ success.

The NFL is also expected to revise injury reports so that more detailed practice information is provided but official status such as questionable won’t be announced until two days before each game.

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