NFL to look at big changes for replay system

Updated: December 11, 2013, 8:46 PM ET


By
Todd Archer | ESPN.com


IRVING, Texas — The NFL’s Competition Committee will look into the possibility of taking replay calls away from the on-field referee and putting them into the hands of those in the NFL offices during games.

“Our No. 1 focus is to make sure we’re providing the best officiating,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at the close of an NFL owners meeting outside Dallas on Wednesday. “We always think we can improve. Consistency is important. By bringing it into the league office on Sundays and having one person actually making that decision you can make the argument that there’s consistency.”

Any change would have to be agreed upon by the teams and could be brought up for discussion at the NFL owners meetings in the spring.

In the past, some owners who were against the initial use of replay cited the length of games. Goodell said technological improvements could quell those fears.

“We actually think we might be able to do it more quickly than the current status, but those are parts of the things that we’ll study,” Goodell said.

As for the investigation into the Richie IncognitoJonathan Martin case, Goodell said it will be “several weeks” before he receives a report from special investigator Ted Wells.

“We want him to be thorough and not to compromise it in any way, so when it’s complete that’s when he’ll present it to me,” Goodell said. “And I have not given him a deadline.”

Wells canceled a second interview with Incognito as well as with 11 other Dolphins players, a source familiar with the case told ESPN. Those interviews were supposed to take place this week. Incognito met with Wells on Nov. 22. Martin and Wells met for a second time last week in Los Angeles.

Goodell said workplace environment was discussed among ownership at the meeting, “and what changes should be necessary.”

“We’ll be reaching out to players, to clubs to evaluate that over the next several months so we do anticipate there will be changes in that for next season,” Goodell said.

While player safety is a top priority, Goodell said he does not believe there is a connection between knee injuries as a result of the league rules preventing hits to the head and neck area. New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a season-ending knee injury on Sunday when he was hit low by Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, 110 players have been placed on injured reserve with knee injuries through 14 weeks of the season, which is more than occurred in the entire 2011 season. Last season 121 players were placed on IR with knee injuries.

“We haven’t seen any increase in knee injuries, so from a factual standpoint that’s not the case,” Goodell said. “Those types of hits have happened in football for a long time. That’s unfortunately not new. We’ll do everything we can do avoid that. We don’t want it to happen. It’s terrible when it happens, but it’s an unfortunate fact of sports.”

  • Covered NFL since 1997, Cowboys since 2003
  • Previously covered Bengals and Dolphins
  • Lives in Dallas area with his wife and two children

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