- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Washington Redskins will open their first year under coach Jim Zorn in the nationally televised Thursday night opener Sept. 4 at the New York Giants, an NFL source confirmed last night.

The Giants will be the fifth straight Super Bowl champions to open the defense of their title with the kickoff game at home. The last nonchampionship team to play host to the game was the Redskins against the New York Jets in 2003. The game on NBC will be the Redskins’ third prime-time opener in six years. They also played host to the Minnesota Vikings in the 2006 “Monday Night Football” opener.

The Associated Press reported the NFL is considering moving the game’s kickoff 90 minutes ahead from its usual 8:30 p.m. kickoff to accommodate the expected acceptance speech of Sen. John McCain at the Republican convention that night.

New seeding?

If the NFL competition committee has its way, the Giants’ road trip to ultimate glory won’t be repeated in full in the future.

That’s because under a proposed rule change to be discussed at the NFL meetings that start Monday in Palm Beach, Fla., each conference’s third through sixth playoff qualifiers would be seeded based on their records, not just on whether they won their divisions. The top two division winners still would get byes even if a wild card had a better record than one of them, and division winners would win all tiebreakers.

So the Giants would have opened the playoffs with a wild card game at home rather than visiting NFC South champion Tampa Bay because they had the better record.

“The potential reworking of playoff seeding can motivate coaches late in the year based on … potential home games [not to rest players with a playoff berth clinched],” said competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay of the Atlanta Falcons. “To us, that’s a better solution than ever getting in the business of trying to legislate whom a coach should play.”

The committee does want coaches to communicate with their defensive signal callers just as they do with their quarterbacks. The measure gained 18 votes when first proposed and 22 the last time, two shy of passage.

The committee also is proposing that agents be allowed to negotiate contracts for prospective free agents five to seven days before the start of the signing period. Meetings between officials from prospective new employers and players would be prohibited. The proposal only will be discussed in Palm Beach but could be voted on as soon as the May 19-21 meeting in Atlanta.

While there will be much discussion about the collective bargaining agreement with the players association in the wake of negative comments by some owners about the extension that narrowly passed in 2006, no adjustments will be voted on in Palm Beach.

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