NFL Nation: competition committee

Some clarity on NFL meeting plans

March, 16, 2011
3/16/11
11:32
AM ET
Just finished a media conference call with Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, the chairman of the NFL’s competition committee, and Ray Anderson, the NFL’s vice president of football operations.

The good news was there was no talk about labor news -- the focus was on football matters as the NFL prepares for its annual spring meeting. I’ll be heading to New Orleans on Sunday to cover that and the meeting officially starts Monday.

Before McKay and Anderson got into some possible rules changes, the NFL cleared up a situation that had been very uncertain in recent days. All 32 coaches are expected to attend and they’ll meet with the media Tuesday morning. In other words, I’ll have time to get with Sean Payton, Mike Smith, Raheem Morris and Ron Rivera and bring you what they have to say.

In another matter, an NFL spokesman said the league continues to work on its 2011 regular-season schedule and that’s expected to be announced, as usual, in mid-April. The spokesman didn’t give any hints if some of the opening-week prime-time games will be announced at the league meeting, but that’s been known to happen in the past.

New Orleans fans won’t be happy to hear there is no plan to propose a new seeding process for the playoffs. That comes after the Saints went 11-5, but drew the No. 6 seed and a trip to No. 4 Seattle, which went 7-9 and won the NFC West. McKay said the competition committee discussed a look at changing the seeding, but there didn’t appear to be enough momentum from teams to even make a proposal.

Our John Clayton will be posting much more on the rule changes that are proposed over on our main NFL page in just a bit. But the most significant proposal, at least in my eyes, is one to make some major modifications on kickoffs. Due to a high rate of injuries on kickoffs, McKay said the committee will propose moving the spot of the kickoff from the 30-yard line to the 35 and players on the kicking team would have to line up within five yards of the ball.

The proposal also includes moving the spot of touchbacks to the receiving team’s 25-yard line from the 20. Penalties for kicks going out of bounds still would result in the ball being placed at the receiving team’s 40-yard line. The proposal also would eliminate all wedge blocks, including the two-man wedge.
Looks like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t the only NFC South team making their players disappear. At least temporarily Tuesday afternoon, the Carolina Panthers took their roster off the team’s official website.

It’s back up now and a team spokesman said it was taken down due to the “uncertainty’’ surrounding the league’s labor situation. I just checked all four NFC South team websites and each of them is showing a roster -- at the moment.

Speaking of “uncertainty,’’ there’s a lot of it going around. This is the time of year when the NFL world generally gets ready for the annual spring meeting. It’s generally the biggest business meeting of the year and lots of people from all areas of the league generally attend.

Well, this year’s going to be different, but we have no idea how different just yet. I’ll be leaving Sunday for New Orleans where the league meeting, or some semblance of it, is scheduled to start Monday. At this point, all we know for sure is that Wednesday there will be a conference call featuring Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, who chairs the competition committee, and NFL vice president of football operations Ray Anderson.

They’re supposed to give the media a preview of some rules and issues the competition committee will be working on at the meeting. I’m pretty sure McKay and Anderson aren’t going to be fielding any labor questions.

Once we get to the actual meeting, it’s going to be interesting to see who shows. In normal years, the league has a breakfast where media can talk with AFC coaches one day and NFC coaches another. Almost always, all the coaches are there. But league officials so far have said there might be some sort of scaled-down version of the media sessions with coaches.

In talking to officials from several NFC South teams today, there seems to be uncertainty about whether their coaches will be attending the meeting.

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