COMPETITION COMMITTEE PRESS CONFERENCE
TROY VINCENT, RICH MCKAY & DEAN BLANDINO
Troy Vincent: I’ll just give you a quick overview of where our journey started post-Super Bowl. The committee got together in New York. Secondly, we met again for multiple days at the Combine and then we just concluded in Phoenix – we’ve been here a week – we just concluded yesterday. There’s been some consensus, just a couple of things I wanted to point out after all of the film study, listening to the different subcommittees, medical folks, our session with the Players Association, all were very productive. Number one priority was a focus on player safety. Number two was the quality of our game and the film showed that the quality of our game is extraordinary. It’s in a good place but we won’t stop aiming towards perfection. Officiating, Dean will share some thoughts there but we continue looking at the accuracy in the officiating, the administration of our games. There’s been a lot of discussion about pace and full-time officials. Pace of game, Dean will share a little bit on that. The committee continues to emphasize the importance of sportsmanship and the emphasis of taking improper techniques out of the game. We’ll talk a little bit about the points of emphasis as we go into the 2017 season, such as horse collar, blindside blocks and launching, some of these techniques that we’ve seen and the players adjust and we must give our players and coaches much credit. The video shows that they’re constantly adjusting. Our game’s better, many of the techniques that don’t belong in our game are out. We still have a little bit of work to do in that area, but the quality of our game is good. I’ll now turn it over to Rich and I’ll have him talk a little bit about some of the playing rules proposals and then to Dean on some of the pace of game things that you’ve seen publicly and then we’ll take questions.
Rich McKay: So as Troy said, Competition Committee-wise, we’ve always started at the first place which is the club survey. We want to hear from the clubs and what’s important to them and what they think that’s in the game that needs addressing and we did that this year. As Troy said, we met with the general manager’s advisory group, we met with the Madden coach’s subcommittee, we met with the NCAA, we met with the NFLPA. We spent a lot of time in trying to look at the game and I think we start from the point that the game is in a really good place. This year, I know you’ve seen the stat and you’ve probably written the stat, but our margin of victory at 10.23 points per game is the smallest since 1935 and only twice has it been smaller than it was this year and that’s 1935 and 1932. So from a competitive standpoint, that is a very good stat. We had six of the NFL’s eight divisions have new champions this year. For the 27th consecutive year since the 12-team playoff format was introduced, we had at least four teams qualify that weren’t in the postseason the previous year. So competitively on the field, we feel very good about it. At 45.55 points per game, we’re right where we’ve been and that’s a good place for us to be. We have 700 yards per game, that’s a lot of yards and that’s certainly a top-five in yardage. Penalties per game we’re down to a 15.93, in that range. So, we feel very good about where the game is. We have from a rules perspective, and I’ll let Dean give you the specifics, but we have seven playing rules changes that were proposed by clubs, we have eight Competition Committee playing rules proposals. We have a couple of bylaw proposals which are really player personnel-driven and we have points of emphasis, a lot of them which we’ll cover with our clubs when they get to Phoenix next week – we’re already here. So I’ll let Dean, if you want to cover any of those specifically and go through those before we get to Q&A, I’ll let him go from here.
Dean Blandino: Thanks, Rich. I think the one player safety change that will probably garner a lot of discussion is the jumper, the leaper, on field goal and extra points. This is a proposal that would eliminate that technique and prevent a player from crossing the line of scrimmage to block a field goal or an extra point. So that is being proposed.
Our two changes from last year -the touchback at the 25, which was a one-year only for the 2016 season, the committee was pleased with the results. Touchbacks were up, the lowest rate of return in NFL history at 39.3% of our kickoffs returned. So the committee is proposing that for another year, to get another year’s worth of data, then evaluate that after the 2017 season. The unsportsmanlike conduct automatic ejection rule, which was another one-year proposal for 2016, that is being proposed permanently. We led to three ejections in that area, and that was two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls in the same game would lead to an automatic ejection. So that will be proposed permanently.
We’re expanding the defenseless player protection to include a receiver running a route. We looked at a lot of video of receivers who were really in a defenseless posture, whether they were tracking the quarterback, looking back for the ball, and were contacted in the head or neck area, forcibly, by a defender. That, now, would become a foul, even within the legal five- yard chuck zone. A defender could still make contact, but can’t go to the head/neck area. Again, continuing to protect players from that forcible contact to the head/neck area.
And I think the last two that will garner most of the attention will be the replay changes. One giving New York, the designated members of the officiating department – myself, my supervisory staff – final say over the replay decision, with input from the referee. And I think that’s important to remember, we’re not taking the referee out of the equation. The referee will still be involved, the referee will still give input, but will no longer have the final say. And the way the referee actually views the play will change, where we’ll be going away from the sideline under the hood monitor to a handheld tablet device, where the referee can view the play on the sideline-not the field of play, but on the sideline, but not have to go all the way over to the wall and go under the hood and go through that process.
So that kind of leads me into the pace of game, and those two changes, which are subject to a vote, is part of an initiative to really reduce downtime. When we have in-game downtime – we’re not looking to impact the play on the field, but reduce in-game downtime. And so those two would be rules changes that would be eliminating the sideline monitor and having New York make the final decision, then there will be several mechanics changes that we will implement. Those include standardizing the clock start after a runner goes out of bounds outside two and outside five. In those instances, the clock will stop for a period of time then the referee will wind it when the ball is made ready for play. We’ll standardize that, which we feel will improve the pace of the game. We’ll allow the referee to do his replay announcements during the television break, and not wait for TV to make those announcements. We feel like that will improve the in-game, in-stadium experience for the fans and reduce some of that overall replay delay. We’ll institute a play clock, a 40 second clock, after an extra point, when we’re going to a kickoff and there is no television break. We found that that is a period of time when we can be more efficient and get the teams out for the kickoff, and so we’ll have a 40 second window where the teams will have to get out and be lined up, then the referee will make the ball ready for play. We’re also just looking to find more efficiencies in some of the more discretionary areas of game administration, which includes getting in and out of TV breaks, penalty enforcements, replay administration and just being as efficient as possible in those areas. And I think the last thing is standardizing the halftime length. Halftime currently is 12 minutes, but there is built in delay time that involves teams getting to the locker room and the infrastructure of our stadiums and how they’re configured. So we’re going to eliminate all of those discretionary periods of time and just have a clock, 13 minutes and 30 seconds, and at the end of that period, the ball will be made ready for play for the second half kickoff. So that’s kind of just a summary of some of the pace of game initiatives.
On whether the leaping rule curtails athletic ability and how far the league will go in this regard:
McKay: I would say it’s going to go as far as it needs to from a player safety standpoint. We’re not going to put players in a position in which we think there is an unreasonable risk of injury. In our case this was a rule that was proposed by Philadelphia. When we met with the NFLPA it was a rule that certainly caught their attention and they favored it right from the outset given what they felt like was a danger to the player, to the leaper and the risk of injury. The NCAA quickly passed this rule. I don’t know if it’s been confirmed yet but it’s in the passing stage and they’re doing the same thing. When we see a technique in our game, athletic or non-athletic, that is a danger to the player, we try to as a league respond by a rule limiting that danger.
On the Brice Butler 12-man penalty going forward:
Blandino: We did discuss it and obviously, that’s a penalty that you don’t see very frequently. We looked at some of the language in the book and we’re going to give our officials just more latitude to warn a team if they feel like this is a potential issue and then penalize after a warning. There’s language in the book that allows for a change in a coaching decision where a player or a group of players may come onto the field and then there’s a change in the decision and then they go off the field without participating in a play. We want to maintain a team’s ability to do that, so we did discuss it and look at the language and we feel comfortable with the referee giving a warning if he feels a team is trying to manipulate the situation allowing the defense to matchup in that situation and only penalizing if there is a subsequent act after a warning.
On suspensions or ejections on illegal hits and the length of overtime:
McKay: On the suspensions, for certain types of hits we will cover it with the NFLPA, we’ll cover it with the membership this next week. We just want to show some plays that we think have no place in our game and therefore should result in suspension and/or ejection if it’s seen on the field and can be called. As opposed to I think sometimes people get caught up in the idea that a player should be warned and then there should be progressive enforcement. In this case these are plays we just don’t want in our game and our feeling is if suspension is an option and you show those plays to players, we’ve seen them really conform to rule changes and we think this will help us even more conform to not having these types of plays in our game. So, that’s the purpose of that.
With respect to overtime and limiting overtime the proposal to limit overtime to 10 minutes in the preseason and regular season is simply a player safety issue. We have a couple games this year that went the full length. I think three, one got a field goal right before the game expired and two were tied. I think we looked at the number of snaps and felt like it was excessive. It was excessive in the point it concerns us that we don’t know when the team is going to play next week after this in the regular season and in the preseason. It could be four days later. Accordingly, we just felt we should put an end to it. We don’t think it’ll lead to more ties. Could it? It could. Are we concerned about that? No, we’re more concerned about player safety.
On what kinds of hits would be included in suspensions and whether replay is needed for it:
McKay: The same standard that is applied for ejections that’s been in our book for a long time remains in our book. The officials have always had that ability. We’re not trying to change that rule or change that emphasis. Therefore, we don’t think we have to involve replay in that decision. We’re as focused on the idea that if these plays occur that we empower the league office and with good notice to the NFLPA and the players that these are the types of hits that can lead to and should lead to suspension.
On changes to concussion protocol and if there are any proposals regarding expanded replay review:
Blandino: Well yes, John, on the first part, on our ATC spotter, there won’t be any change to the concussion protocol, we are adding the ability for both teams to review video simultaneously, so there will be a second system and both teams, because we have had situations where you have to wait. Maybe one team is looking at a hamstring injury and another team is looking at a different injury and there is a delay time. So we’re going to eliminate that potential, so both teams can view video of injury or potential injury simultaneously.
On replay, there are two proposals right now. One Philadelphia did withdraw. But there are two proposals, one from Buffalo and Seattle, and another from Washington that involves replay. And they revolve around increasing the number of challenges that a team can have. And then the other significant change in the Buffalo-Seattle proposal would be allowing a coach to challenge any officiating decision, which would include a foul that is called or a foul that is not called. And so, that is a significant change to our current replay rule, and it is something that will be on the floor, and be debated and voted on next week.
On if it was a joint proposal by Buffalo and Seattle?
Blandino: Correct, yes.
On if moving the extra point back is a permanent rule:
McKay: It is a permanent rule, and it became a permanent rule last year. I think I was looking into stats earlier, I think, three years ago, before the rule, I think we had eight extra points that were missed. I think we then went into the seventies as far as missed extra points last year, and then this past season I think it went into the eighties. So clearly the play has become more competitive. There is a risk element with it as far as success goes.
On if the Patriots submitted any proposals and the player safety issue specific to jumping over the line on the extra point and field goal that would lead that to its elimination:
McKay: There’s nothing that was proposed from the Patriots at this point, so proposals from the clubs, the deadline has passed, so we have not received a proposal from the Patriots.
And I think the issue, we’ve looked at a lot of tape on the jumper, is that how it’s being defensed at this point is whether it’s the snapper or the guard raising up and attempting to make contact with the jumper. And we’ve seen several examples where the players have been flipped over, land on their head, their neck, and a potential for a serious injury is certainly increases when you have a player in a vulnerable position, who’s now going to be knocked off balance and really can’t control the way they land. So I think that’s probably the biggest thing and we have seen that on tape as to why the proposal will be voted on.
Vincent: And frankly we’ve also heard our coaches tell us, you know they’re now coaching to defend that leaper, which really could create a real safety issue with that defender coming down and now jumping over. So the inevitable is going to happen, and just hearing from the players association, Philly now proposing it is really in the best interest of the game.
On how often the hits that could garner a suspension actually occur:
McKay: Not very often, I mean let’s give the players credit right. I mean we have 40,000 plays in a year. We’ll show a tape next week that will have, you know, four or five plays that we would say would warrant suspension. So this is not a widespread situation. This is a situation where there are certain plays in our game that we want to get out of the game, and we just want to make sure that the players are put on notice that if these types of actions occur, then they could be subject to suspension.
Vincent: And if I could add to that, Kevin, when you see the plays, they’re catastrophic. When they happen, they’re very few, but the end result, we had one player last year that did not return for the season, two, I’m sorry, that didn’t return for the season. So they’re high impact plays, they belong out of the game. And when we see it, we have to enforce it and it’s going to be a real point of emphasis this season coming.
On which teams submitted proposals and on how much thought if any has been given to the college overtime format:
McKay: Ok, so first of all from teams, there’s seven proposals, I won’t sit there and give you details, cause you’ll get them this afternoon, but Philadelphia had one about protection of the long snapper, Philadelphia had one about the leaping, Philadelphia had one about expansion of crowding the helmet, Philadelphia had one about instant replay, Washington had one about replay challenges, Washington has one that is about the touchback, and changing the yard line, and then you have the expansion of replay by Buffalo and Seattle. You’ll get the details when Michael sends them out, but that’s kind of where they are.
On overtime, no, we’ve talked in the past about college rules for overtime, but I think our position has always been we like to play it like a traditional game, with traditional field position and everything else at play. And so we’ve never really, seriously had any momentum behind going to a college system, at least I’ve never really heard it discussed where there’s any momentum for that proposal.
On if they revisited both teams getting a possession even if one team scores on the first possession of overtime:
Blandino: We have discussed that we obviously went to a modified rule with the field goal on the initial possession not ending the game. I think the committee and many of us at the league want to preserve the idea of sudden death and that the game can still end on any one play. I think that’s important as we look at this rule and we still have that sudden death aspect of it and if you did change it to both teams getting a possession even in a touchdown situation still having an opportunity you lose that sudden death aspect, which the committee and many at the league feel is very important.
On if there is a certain goal for a timeframe of games with the pace of play rules:
Blandino: The goal is not necessarily to reduce game length, it’s to reduce the amount of in-game down time and to just be more efficient in some of those areas. We feel like if we can reduce some of that in game down time than the overall game time will take care of itself. Our games averaged just over three hours and seven minutes, that was down from the number in 2015. We expect that there will be a reduction in game time based on some of these changes but the focus is in game down time, being more efficient, and the entire game experience whether it’s in the stadium or watching at home on TV. Just having a better experience as we talk about pace of game.
On the goal for reducing celebration penalties:
Vincent: Well I have been in the public eye for hours after my 140-characters talking about just developing some game footage of celebration and celebration penalties. Frankly, we want the officials to keep the flags on their waist, and we want the players to celebrate, to be spontaneous. There are some things as we administrate the game, we have some fine lines. We think clear examples are best not only for our officials but for our players and our coaches. We’ve talked extensively about what’s prolonged and what’s excessive, going on the ground, what’s acceptable and what’s not. There are some acts we all know that don’t belong in our game. We want our players, we encourage our players, and as a former player I understand the spontaneous nature of a big play and wanting to be excited and have fun with your teammates. We just want to make sure that there are things that don’t belong in our game, keep them out. Frankly we want our officials officiating the game, not throwing flags because of guys celebrating. You’re not going to see any rule changes. We just want to clarify and bring clarity for all.
On future plans for Thursday Night Football and will it continue:
Vincent: I haven’t heard of it being phased out. It has been a part of our game for quite some time. You hear a difference in opinion sometimes, you hear a player talking about recovery time, but we’ve had success on Thursday Night Football. There has been talk of potentially adding a bye after the Thursday night game, but there hasn’t been any talk of eliminating it.
McKay: We do look at every year the injury statistics to see if players on four days’ rest, are they getting injured at a higher rate than they would on seven days’ rest, and the answer from the statistics for the last five years has been no. The injury rate for those Thursday night games has been less. That doesn’t get to the quality debate. That will always be there when a game stands out on its own like a Thursday night game does, but as far as injury and safety, the numbers have not supported that there is a difference or is at a higher injury rate.
On the procedure if there is more than one replay review going on at the same time:
Blandino: That’s something that we’ve dealt with since we went to this model where New York was involved. We have multiple people, myself, Al Riveron and one of our officiating supervisors, so there are three people that can get involved in the decision-making process. We have a game monitor that is assigned to an individual game that will call things to our attention. We’ve been managing that process for the last three years and we feel comfortable that we can continue to do that in the early window with multiple games going on and having multiple reviews happening at the same time. Again, with the referees still being involved in the process it tends to work itself out during that window.
McKay: One thing Howard, we like as a committee about the centralized proposal is, in our game, we have coaches and fans that want one thing in officiating and that’s consistency. We have found that since we’ve gone to the centralized model we feel like we are getting better consistency from call to call and what the expectations are on what will be reversed and what will not be reversed, and we think this system furthers that, with the idea that you always want the referee involved because the referee is on the field, is a rules expert, and should have some discussion in the procedure. We think this model works best and gives us a chance to speed the process up, while giving us consistency in the outcome.
PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY NFL COMMUNICATIONS; COURTESY NFLmedia.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
33 CURRENT AND FORMER NFL PLAYERS TO PARTICIPATE
Four-day financial education program kicks off next week in Florida
Thirty-three current and former NFL players will take part in the third annual NFL Personal Finance Camp in Fort Lauderdale, FL next week (March 27-30). New York Giants WR BRANDON MARSHALL, Kansas City Chiefs SERIC BERRY and Detroit Lions CB D.J. HAYDEN are among the players taking part in the four-day financial education program (see below for the complete list of participating players).
The program, developed jointly by NFL Player Engagement, the University of Miami School of Business Administration and TD Ameritrade1, offers participants an opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the people, investments and forces in the financial world and equips them with the knowledge and tools to help build generational wealth and maintain long-term financial security.
United States One Dollar Bill Public Domain, https commons.wikimedia.org
“Our Personal Finance Camp provides our players and their families with educational tools that can help them achieve long-term financial security,” said Arthur McAfee, Senior Vice President of NFL Player Engagement. “We are proud to host this program for the third straight year with The University of Miami and TD Ameritrade.”
Over the course of four days, participants will receive instruction from University of Miami School of Business Administration faculty and TD Ameritrade financial professionals, as well as former NFL All-Pro DE Patrick Kerney, now the director of business development at National Fire & Casualty Investments. Program sessions will include “The Building Blocks of a Portfolio,” “Personal Finances and Investing Basics,” “Creating a Diversified Portfolio,” and “Examining Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning.” Throughout the week, participants also will have the opportunity to receive one-on-one financial planning assistance.
“We’re delighted to partner with NFL Player Engagement in a program that brings athletes face-to-face with some of the world’s best finance professors for advice and new perspectives on attaining long-term financial security,” saidAnuj Mehrotra, dean of the University of Miami School of Business Administration. “This program complements our MBA and other executive programs designed to meet the unique educational needs of professionals from a variety of backgrounds.”
“Financial planning can be a highly emotional and personal experience because it covers the intersection of wealth and earnings with our future well-being. This can make it a difficult topic to understand, let alone discuss with advisors and family members,” said Dedra DeLilli, head of sponsorships at TD Ameritrade. “That’s why we’re proud to help present Personal Finance Camp for a third straight year. It’s an opportunity for these professionals and their families to have meaningful conversations and commit to learning in an environment where there is no such thing as a bad question.”
This is one of several career and professional development programs NFL Player Engagement offers to current and former players and their families. More than 32 players and their significant others took part in the second annual Business Academy last month at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
The following players are participating in this year’s program:
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About NFL Player Engagement
NFL Player Engagement assists players in reaching their highest potential on and off-the-field with guidance, support, and resources provided before, during, and after their NFL experiences. NFL Player Engagement works with three core audiences: Prep, Life, and Next. NFL Life (current players) and NFL Next (former players) reach more than 2,000 NFL players and spouses each year through a variety of programs and services focused on career development, financial and continuing education, as well as personal, psychological, and physical wellness. NFL Prep provides high-school and college student-athletes of all sports with tools to help them succeed in life, focused on awareness, prevention, and education. More information can be found at www.nflplayerengagement.com
About the University of Miami School of Business Administration
The University of Miami School of Business is a leader in preparing individuals and organizations to excel in the complex, dynamic, and interconnected world of global business. One of 12 schools and colleges at the University of Miami, the School offers undergraduate, master’s, doctoral, and executive education programs. With its location in a major center for international business, the School is acclaimed for its global perspective, student and faculty diversity, and engagement with the business community. More information about the University of Miami School of Business can be found at www.bus.miami.edu
About TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation
Millions of investors and independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) have turned to TD Ameritrade’s (Nasdaq: AMTD)technology, people and education to help make investing and trading easier to understand and do. Online or over the phone. In a branch or with an independent RIA. First-timer or sophisticated trader. Our clients want to take control, and we help them decide how – bringing Wall Street to Main Street for more than 40 years. TD Ameritrade has time and again been recognized as a leader in investment services. Please visit TD Ameritrade’s newsroom or www.amtd.com for more information, or read our stories at Fresh Accounts.
PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY Taylor Kielpinski-Rogers, NFL; COURTESY NFLmedia.com
The World Baseball Classic Championship Game was played at historic Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
The United States and Puerto Rico were vying for their first title ever in the classic.
The USA team, which had several stars on its roster from Major League Baseball was not going to be denied their first championship.
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman, who was voted 2017 WBC 2017 MVP, had a dominating performance in helping lead the Americans to an 8-0 whitewashing of the Puerto Ricans on Wednesday night.
Stroman, who is right-handed, threw 6-plus scoreless innings against a tough Puerto Rican team. He did not give up a hit until the 7th inning when former San Francisco Giants outfielder Angel Pagan led off with a double. Stroman was slated to throw 95 pitches in the game but threw only 73.
Eventhough the game was played in an American stadium, Team USA batted first.
The Americans got the scoring underway in the 3rd inning when Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler belted a two-run homer that just barely cleared the left-center-field wall over the head of Enrique Hernandez.
Team USA kept on rolling.
In the 5th, they made it 4-0 on RBI singles from the Marlins’ Christian Yelich and the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen.
The clinching inning was the 7th which saw Team USA batting around to score three runs on three hits, garner two walks and a hit batter. The big hit came from the Giants’ Brandon Crawford, who had a clutch, 2-out, 2-run single. Marlins’ RF Giancarlo Stanton closed the scoring with an RBI singal as well.
The Americans concluded the scoring in the 8th inning with a single run.
Let’s recap the tournament and see how the Americans made their title run.
The Americans won their first game over Colombia, 3-2, in 10 innings on a walk-off single by Adam Jones. After losing to the Dominican Republic after having a 5-run lead, the U.S. defeated Canada to reach the Second Round.
In the Second Round the Americans won the first game of the round defeating Venezuela 4-2. In the second game the U.S. was defeated by Puerto Rico 6-5 after giving up 4 runs in the 1st inning. The U.S. would then defeat the Dominican Republic to advance to the Championship Round.
In the Championship Round Semifinals on March 21, the Americans defeated Japan 2-1 to advance to their first ever appearance in the Final.
The man who called the shots for Team USA was manager Jim Leyland in 2013 By Keith Allison, CC BY-SA 2.0, https commons.wikimedia.org
The pitching star was Marcus Stroman throwing plateward in 2015 By Keith Allison, CC BY-SA 2.0, https commons.wikimedia.org
WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC ROSTER FOR TEAM USA
Dodger Stadium with Los Angeles skyline in the background By Mother's Cookies - "1987 Mother's Cookies Los Angeles Dodgers Trading Cards,, Public Domain, https commons.wikimedia.org
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