The call on the field — is for consistency and simplification at different levels of football.
The NFL held a “Universal Rules Alignment Meeting” at its headquarters in New York on Tuesday, with league football operations chief Troy Vincent and Atlanta Falcons CEO Rich McKay, the head of the league’s competition committee, leading the discussion. Some team executives, the NFL players union, the head of officiating and some officials from the NCAA took part in the effort.
“It’s the idea that you try to have unified safety terminology for players so they understand what the foul is and what it isn’t and then teach it all the way down beginning at the little kids, getting to high school, getting to college and getting to pros,” McKay said.
One focus was rules that deal with players’ safety, such as defenders leading with the helmet or targeting defenseless players.
“Hopefully we’ll come together with language that’s simpler and easier for the players to understand,” McKay said. “I think the use of the helmet foul, to lower your head to initiate contact, I think that foul will have an impact on the way players play the game.”
They also looked at rules differences with cut blocks and chop blocks and kickoffs between college and the pros.
The discussions will continue early next year after the end of the college and NFL seasons.
“I think everything can be navigated if people are willing to come and sit and talk and communicate,” Vincent said. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all. … We learn from you, there’s some things that you’re doing, there’s some things that we’re doing. It’s really collaboration. Can it work? Absolutely.”
THE OPTICS DEBATE
Jimmy Johnson, a two-time Super Bowl winner as coach of the Dallas Cowboys, criticized Jason Garrett for turning up at Game 3 of the World Series last Friday with his 3-4 team going into its open weekend.
Johnson, a Fox studio analyst, said before last Sunday’s games that it was a bad look for a team that had work to do, based on its record.
Garrett, one of the backups to quarterback Troy Aikman for Johnson’s final season in 1993 when the Cowboys won their second straight title, passed on the chance to fire back at his old boss.
“I have the utmost respect for coach Johnson,” Garrett said Thursday. “He’s been a friend and mentor to me, really through the years. That’s really all I want to say on that. I just hold him in the highest regard.”
But Garrett did defend himself by pointing out that he encourages all his players to get away from the job for a few days.
“If you’re a beach guy, go to the beach. If you’re a mountain guy, go to the mountains,” Garrett said. “Do whatever you want to do to get away from it, to get yourself refreshed, recharged and ready to go again.”
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he didn’t have a problem with Garrett’s World Series excursion as it related to a team that expected to contend for the playoffs having a losing record, and a winless road mark (0-4).
“I’m not associated with anybody that works any harder than Jason Garrett,” Jones said. “I know where Jason Garrett’s mind is and I know where his work ethic is.”
PACKERS PARTY TIME
Give it up for left tackle David Bakhtiari, who had the best costume at the Green Bay Packers’ Halloween party on Monday.
Well, that’s at least according to quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Bakhtiari and his girlfriend went as the characters Vincent and Mia from the movie “Pulp Fiction.” Rodgers said the couple “basically danced as they danced in the movie to any song that was on. Hardcore rap at times. I gave Dave a lot of credit for that. It was phenomenal.”
The party came a day after the Packers’ 29-27 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Players were disappointed, but “nobody was hanging their head,” said Rodgers, pointing to the well-attended party as a sign of the health of the locker room.
“But no, it’s a tight-knit group,” he said. “You’ve got to stick together through losses, through decisions that are made that are out of our control and keep moving forward with the same vision.”
LEADING THE WAY
Pro Football Hall of Famers Will Shields and Aeneas Williams, three-time Pro Bowler Mark Brunell and three-time Super Bowl champion Willie McGinest will serve as the East-West Shrine Game legends captains.
The four legends captains, who all played in the East-West Shrine Game, will serve as mentors for players throughout the week and be present on the sidelines during the game.
The 94th annual East-West Shrine Game, which features some of college football’s best prospects, will kick off at 3 p.m. EST on Saturday, Jan. 19, from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
GUARANTEE & GOLD MEDALS
Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Namath and the U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team, which won gold at the Winter Games in South Korea last February, will be honored with the Sports Legend and Sportswomen of the Year Awards, presented by the March of Dimes Greater New York Market.
They will receive the awards at a luncheon on Nov. 27 at the New York Hilton in Manhattan.
MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred will also receive the Sports Leadership Award, and Stephen Espinoza, President of Sports and Event Programming for Showtime Networks, Inc., will get the Corporate Leadership Award.
This marks the 35th year for the luncheon by March of Dimes, which honors achievements of men and women in the sports industry.
Atlanta’s Julio Jones faced Josh Norman plenty when Norman played at Carolina. The Falcons’ game Sunday at Washington will mark their first matchup with Norman playing for the Redskins.
And, Jones doesn’t expect much trash talk from one of the league’s more loquacious defenders.
“Josh really doesn’t talk much when we’re out there,” Jones said. “It’s just business. We’re used to going out there and working against each and just trying to play the game the right way.”
Jones went so far as to call Norman a “great guy.”
“I don’t have anything bad to say about him,” Jones said. “He plays the game like it’s supposed to be played. He’s trying to create turnovers for his team. He puts himself in different situations. He throws his body around and has no regard for his body just to get the ball out.”
KICKING TO THE HALL
Adam Vinatieri has kicked his way all the way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Well, at least part of him, for now.
The Indianapolis Colts kicker’s jersey and cleats — worn last Sunday when he set the NFL’s career scoring record — along with the football he booted for the mark will be displayed at the hall’s museum in Canton, Ohio.
Vinatieri finished the day with 2,550 career points, surpassing the previous record of 2,544 held by Hall of Famer Morten Andersen.
AP Pro Football Writers Schuyler Dixon, Dennis Waszak Jr. and Barry Wilner, and AP Sports Writers Genaro C. Armas and Simmi Buttar, and Associated Press Writer George Henry contributed.
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