Monday, March 26, 2012
Sean Payton attending meetings
ESPN.com news services
PALM BEACH, Fla. -- New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton is attending the NFL owners meetings one week before he begins his one-season suspension for his involvement in the team's bounty program.
Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said Payton would be arriving in Palm Beach later Monday and would attend a coaches meeting Tuesday morning.
The NFC coaches are scheduled to meet the media Wednesday morning.
Last Friday, Payton apologized for the bounty system, taking "full responsibility" for the program that operated for three years under his watch. His former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, has been suspended indefinitely for overseeing the bounty pool.
There was some confusion earlier Monday when it appeared Payton had arrived in a sport-utility vehicle that pulled up to the front of the The Breakers resort with a police escort, but it was Saints owner Tom Benson, not Payton, who was in the vehicle.
The Associated Press also reported earlier Monday that Payton was at commissioner Roger Goodell's state of the league address but the coach's arrival won't come until later Monday.
Payton will begin a one-year suspension April 1 that he received for his part in the Saints' bounty program that led to suspensions as well as a $500,000 fine for the team and the loss of second-round draft picks this year and in 2012.
League officials have urged the Saints to publicly address the situation early in the three-day meeting, but the decision ultimately is up to the team.
Instant replay and injured reserve -- the NFL's IRs -- will be main topics as the owners consider several rules changes at their spring meetings that began Monday and last until Wednesday.
The Buffalo Bills have proposed having the booth official make all decisions on replay reviews instead of referees. Under another suggestion, the booth official also would be allowed to review all turnovers just as he now does for all scoring plays.
A change to the injured reserve requirements for a designated player would be the first alteration in rules for that list since 1993.
Until 1990, IR players had to sit out six games. From 1990-93 that became four games. Then the league clamped down on teams that "hid" prospects they might lose if released by placing them on IR even if their injuries were minor -- or nonexistent, making players placed on IR sit out the entire season.
Another proposal will allow each team to designate one player per week who can go on the inactive list because of a concussion and be replaced on the roster.
Also up for discussion is changing the overtime format, moving back the trading deadline and expanding offseason and training camp rosters.
The NFL rarely tinkered with overtime until two years ago, when the Saints won the NFC title by winning the coin toss to start the extra period, marching downfield and kicking a field goal.
Beginning in the 2010 season, that scenario required the team that lost the toss to get a possession, but only in the playoffs.
That rule change has had no impact thus far, but the Steelers want it as part of the regular season, too. The league's coaches subcommittee and the players' union support the change.
NFL owners also will consider moving the trading deadline from after the sixth week of the schedule to after the eighth week. McKay said the hope is to generate more deals.
Also proposed is allowing teams to have 90 players on the offseason and training camp rosters before the first cut, but counting unsigned draft choices. In the past, those unsigned players were not part of the 80-man rosters.
Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons and chairman of the competition committee, said the final cutdown to 53 could be moved up one day to Friday, Aug. 31 because the opening game will be played on a Wednesday night this year.
Information from ESPN.com NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas and The Associated Press was used in this report.