NFL Meetings notebook

Getting real about the preseason

Owners to hear ideas on changes

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Mike Reiss
Globe Staff / May 20, 2008

ATLANTA - For fans disillusioned with preseason games that don't include star players and generally lack pizzazz - but still include regular prices - the NFL hears your call.

The NFL's Competition Committee has worked in conjunction with Seth Rabinowitz, who heads the league's strategic planning and business development group, in hopes of spicing up the preseason.

Owners will be presented with some of the possibilities today.

While some have suggested the possibility of shortening the preseason, Falcons president Rich McKay, who co-chairs the Competition Committee, indicated that isn't under consideration.

Most teams now play four games, and the final preseason contest is often a dud for fans because teams are cautious with top players heading into the regular season.

In the Patriots' case over the last few years, their fourth preseason game has come less than a week after the third contest, a short stretch that has dictated players such as Tom Brady sitting out most, if not all, of the game.

So if the number of games is not changed, then what could significantly help the preseason?

"A lot could be different," McKay responded. "The presentation and the way the preseason is packaged, formatted, games scheduled - all those things can be modified in a way. [The league has] come to us a couple times and presented different ideas. I don't know what has been settled on.

"At this point, I would say it's still a little bit in the early stages of where we're going to end up."

Super confident

The largest media contingent at the meetings is from Indianapolis, as the city is anticipating being awarded the 2012 Super Bowl today. Arizona and Houston are the other candidates.

Last year, Indianapolis narrowly lost out on the 2011 Super Bowl to North Texas. Colts CEO Jim Irsay sounded confident that Indianapolis would get the bid this time, as the new Lucas Oil Stadium - built with a combination of private and public funds - is set to open this year.

"I really think it's our turn and our time," said Irsay. "I think my partners really recognize the importance to acknowledge the public/private partnership, because it's critical to get something done.

"I think that's what it comes down to - acknowledging the fact of how important it is to get stadiums built - and when a community really steps up, it's an important component to reward that community."

Irsay has informed his fellow owners that if Indianapolis is granted the Super Bowl, it wouldn't be in the mix for future games.

"I told them, 'In your lifetime, you won't see me again - this is a one-time thing to acknowledge what we've done in Indianapolis,' " he said.

Another 'tuck' rule

After being tabled in late March, the Chiefs' hair proposal is back on the agenda for this meeting. The proposal would require that players' hair not cover the name on the back of the jersey or the numerals.

There are many layers to the issue, which has struck up debate among some players who wonder whether it might be going too far to create a specific image. The Chiefs have made it clear the proposal is based on the idea that if jerseys must be tucked in and socks must be worn a certain way, so too should hair.

Colts coach Tony Dungy, who is present to support Indianapolis's bid for the 2012 Super Bowl, said he's torn on the issue.

"I think there is room for personal expression, but when you listen to Herm [Edwards] and the Kansas City guys, it is kind of a uniform thing," said Dungy. "You look around and the name is covered, and part of the number is covered. We have to figure out how to address that. Hopefully there is a way to do it and get the best of both worlds."

Quiet on the front

Irsay deflected questions on the looming labor battle with players.

Asked about recent published reports that the owners may opt out of the collective bargaining agreement as early as today, he said his focus is more on the present than the future.

Mike Reiss can be reached at

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