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NFL OWNERS MEETINGS END WITHOUT RESOLUTION OF KEY ISSUES
Published March 14, 1996
NFL owners "don't have a lot to show for their four days of meetings at the plush Breakers Resort and Beach Club," according to Paul Domowitch of the PHILA. DAILY NEWS. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue did approve the experimental use of instant replay during the '96 preseason, and "the league will experiment with it unofficially during the regular season." Domowitch notes if they are "satisfied," replay could return in '97 (PHILA. DAILY NEWS, 3/14). But Thomas George of the N.Y. TIMES notes some owners and coaches understood if the pre-season experiment worked, it could be implemented in '96 by a special vote. Tagliabue "insisted" that was not the case (N.Y. TIMES, 3/14). LOOSE ENDS: The "hot-button issues" of franchise free- agency and revenue sharing were left unresolved, and Tagliabue noted he would convene a special meeting in April to vote on the Oilers move. In Washington, Leonard Shapiro notes the owners did "virtually nothing." Bills Owner Ralph Wilson: "I'm exhausted and we didn't do anything." Asked why the league had yet to address franchise relocation, Tagliabue said -- "somewhat testily" -- "It's like [Giants GM] George Young says, 'You want me to have peace in Bosnia, but you work out the details'" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/14). A "disgusted" Bucs GM Rich McKay: "This was a typical NFL owners' meeting" (Tim Panaccio, PHILA. INQUIRER, 3/14). Wilson: "Call us the National Floating League" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/14). Asked if he was going to Cincinnati to lobby for the tax increase before Tuesday's vote on a new facility for the Bengals, Tagliabue said, "Not that I'm aware of." This "fueled speculation" the league wouldn't mind seeing the Tuesday sales-tax vote fail, allowing the Bengals to move (Bart Hubbuch, Akron BEACON JOURNAL, 3/14). TALK TURKEY: Chiefs Owner Lamar Hunt "unexpectedly re- opened" the issue of the Thanksgiving Day game, including the discussion as part of his bid to have conference championships played at neutral sites and to expand the playoffs from 12 to 16 teams. A questionnaire was given on the Thanksgiving contest, asking owners their thoughts on rotating or adding a game. Lions COO Chuck Schmidt was "upset" with the timing (Mike O'Hara, DETROIT NEWS, 3/14). NEWS & NOTES: NFL spokesperson Joe Browne said the league expects to house Browns' records and memorabilia in a trust at the Hall of Fame, while the team awaits a new owner (Akron BEACON JOURNAL, 3/14)....The Cowboys are likely to play the Chiefs in the American Bowl in Monterrey, Mexico, this August. The Cowboys will also play the Oilers in Orlando during preseason. The Citrus Bowl is paying each team $1M for the appearance (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/14).... Dolphins Owner Wayne Huizenga "cleared a major hurdle" on cross-ownership when the Finance Committee recommended changing the policy. The Committee suggested owners be allowed to control more than one pro franchise as long as the teams compete in the same market (MIAMI HERALD, 3/13). ....San Francisco's "pullout" as host of the '99 Super Bowl is expected to be finalized this week. S.F. Mayor Willie Brown is expected to ask for 2002 (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/14).