Colts owner Jim Irsay gives the league till approximately early July to reach an agreement that won't adversely affect the preseason schedule. The Spring Meeting in Indianapolis has already brought some early tidbits.
The NFL announced today that the Rookie Symposium will not be held in June. Already expected to be canceled, this ruling is just a confirmation at the collateral damage from the lockout.
The symposium is a way for the NFL to help bridge the gap between being a broke student athlete and a wealthy professional. There are many life skills that are presented to the players, and this year would have been the first that the symposium was held at the Professional Football Hall of Fame. At the meeting, the team executives discussed the responsibility of the individual clubs to integrate some of the symposium key points into the team's rookie orientations.
The league also approved rule changes.
Follow the jump for the rule change implication.
Back in March, we discussed the various rule changes that the NFL had put into effect. Kickoffs were moved back up to the 35-yard line, kick coverage specialists move up in field position, and all scoring plays are instantly reviewed. Two man wedges were kept legal. The other suggested rule change, to bring touchbacks out to the 25 yard line, was taken off the table by the competition committee so that the kickoffs could again be done from the 35. Rule bartering, gotta love it. The one suggestion that didn't get a decision made on it was the expansion of the illegal hit rules. Here's what was written at the time:
6) Repeat offenders for illegal hits will get suspended this coming season.The rules determining a defenseless player were to be expanded. I wrote last week:
-- A quarterback in the act of throwing; A receiver trying to catch a pass; A runner already in the grasp of tacklers and having his forward progress stopped; A player fielding a punt or a kickoff; A kicker or punter during the kick; A quarterback at any time after change of possession; A receiver who receives a blind-side block; A player already on the ground. A player who is breathing; A player who has eaten nachos in the last two weeks; Players with freckles. OK, the last three I made up. I think.
It turns out that the owners weren't able to agree to the rule as it was written, and the vote was tabled for a future owners meeting. The measure is expected to pass when it does go to vote, though.
Well, the decision has been reached. According to Albert Breer of NFLN here are the notes:
All rules proposal pass 32-0 ... Rules expanding defense/player receiver rule; launching rules; quarterback "grazing" clarification.
Protected in defenseless player expansion: Those not "clearly a runner" yet (i.e. WRs), K/P during a return; QB after change of possession.
Launching expansion: a) player leaving feet prior to contact to spring forward into opp; b) uses any part of helmet.
Also in there, a "blow to the head" where a defender simply accidentally grazes a quarterback's helmet is now a judgment call.
Extra lockout note. Albert Breer just noted that Colts' owner Jim Irsay just reiterated that a deal must be made by early July in order to have an unaffected preseason. Most fans don't follow the preseason to any degree of comparison to the regular season. So why would not missing preseason games matter? Because the owners sell them to their season ticket holders as part of the package, of course. The first preseason game is the first time the league is responsible to its paying public. Miss preseason games, expect the class action lawsuits to begin again.