PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Taking another technological step
forward, NFL owners approved a communication device for defenses
One defensive player will wear a helmet similar to what the
quarterback is allowed on offense. Should that player leave the
game, a teammate can be designated to also have the device. But
only one defender with the device can be on the field at a time.
"We want to safeguard against a situation with two players on
the field at the same time with the helmet communication," said
Atlanta Falcons president and competition committee co-chairman
"We are talking about a three-down player, perhaps a linebacker
who doesn't come off the field," added Tennessee Titans coach Jeff
Fisher, the other co-chairman of the committee that recommended
instituting the device. Fisher has just such a player in Keith
"In the event he goes down because of an injury, we'd identify
our backup player as another three-down player."
Fisher noted this change won't eliminate entirely the need for
signals from the sideline, something that pretty much has
disappeared for offenses.
"The defense will still have need to signal in a hurry-up
situation, where the ball is snapped very early," he said.
The vote was 25-7 in favor - 24 yes votes were required - and
all seven negatives came from head coaches with offensive
Voting against the measure were Seattle (Mike Holmgren), Tampa
Bay (Jon Gruden), Oakland (Lane Kiffin), Philadelphia (Andy Reid),
St. Louis (Scott Linehan), Washington (Jim Zorn) and Green Bay
New England coach Bill Belichick, whose involvement in the
Spygate scandal that included taping opposing coaches' defensive
signals made the communication device a hotter topic, voted for the
"I've been for that ever since the thing with the quarterbacks
came out," Belichick said. "The problem is just how to do it. The
concept of it is fine, but the logistics of it are a little bit of
a different story. You don't always have a quarterback in the game
on defense, like you do on offense. It's a little bit of a
"There is a substitution issue. Even the way it's proposed now
if you have a middle linebacker like Brian Urlacher or Ray Lewis,
or somebody like that who played on every single play on defense as
kind of the equivalent of the offensive quarterback, then that's
one thing. A lot of teams don't have that, and I'd say we would
fall into that category."
The owners also tabled discussion of a rule banning a player's
hair from flowing over the nameplate and number on the back of the
Mike Pereira, NFL VP of officiating, said there were 92
reversals on instant replay challenges last year, representing 38
percent of the total coaches' and booth challenges. That was up
from 34 percent in 2006 and 31 percent in 2005.
"My concerns are when the number of reversals goes up,"
Pereira admitted. "We take a look at that, where the number is
Pereira also wondered if the "level of respect has gone down"
between players, coaches and game officials. He cited several
instances where players either got into shouting matches with
officials or, in Baltimore, when Ravens linebacker Bart Scott
picked up a penalty flag and tossed it through the end zone after
disagreeing with a critical late call in a loss to New England.
"We have to work not to get in those situations," Pereira
said. "I agree both sides are at fault.
"We'll spend more time in training camps and before games
talking to players, get involved before it gets out of hand."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)