Pittsburgh Steelers team president Art Rooney II spoke to select members of the media yesterday, and while the highlight of his comments pertained to the team’s future free agency plans—or lack thereof, which we have already discussed—he had a few interesting things to say on other topics as well.
On the subject of the number of proposals that will be discussed next week during the league’s annual meeting, there only appeared to be one in particular about which he felt strongly, and that pertains to the declaration of eligible players and where they are permitted to line up on the field.
It’s no surprise that this proposal has come up this offseason after the New England Patriots exploited this technique during the playoffs. Rooney went so far as to say that he felt the Baltimore Ravens had a “legitimate gripe” about the manner in which the officials, and the Patriots, handled the procedure.
Essentially, the proposal pertains to where a player is eligible to line up, relative to his jersey number, which is dictated by his position. Against the Ravens, for example, the Patriots split out running back Shane Vereen despite designating him as an ineligible player. The proposal would restrict players with eligible jersey numbers who are declared ineligible to the tackle box.
Considering that the Steelers will face the Patriots this season, perhaps as early as the opening Thursday game against the defending Super Bowl champions, there is arguably some direct relevance involved here for Pittsburgh, even if the eligible-ineligible tactic is scarcely used.
On the topic of playoff expansion, while Rooney was not opposed to it—more games means more revenue for the league, after all—he brought up the point that scheduling conflicts are an impediment to getting it done.
With an expanded playoffs, you could have teams playing from Saturday to Monday on a given week, and it would be unfair to have a team that played on Monday to turn it around and play on Saturday. He also mentioned possible scheduling conflicts with the NCAA’s new playoffs.
Rooney was not much of a fan of many of the rule proposals that the Competition Committee will be discussing, as many of them pertain to expanding the review process, which the Steelers owner worries could cause games to last longer. Saying that there is no need to increase the number of interruptions in a game, Rooney was clear in saying that he is not in favor of any of the proposed changes.
Personally, I have always been in support of the review process and am not opposed to expanding the variety of plays that are eligible for review, nor would I be opposed to increasing the number of coach’s challenges available to a team. After all, is it fair to penalize a team if an officiating staff keeps getting calls wrong?
As he stated last year, he is in favor of one change that is not being discussed, which came from his own head coach. Last year, Mike Tomlin suggested moving the line of scrimmage for PATs and two-point conversion attempts to the one-yard line in order to increase the incentive of going for two. Hopefully one of these days this proposal will be actually open for discussion.