ORLANDO—The NFL’s annual meeting is underway at the Ritz-Carlton in suburban Orlando, and the Dolphins will be in the spotlight.
In addition to coach Adam Gase and vice president Mike Tannenbaum taking questions for the first time since unloading some of the team’s biggest stars, owner Stephen Ross will hold a rare media availability at some point during the week.
Ross caught heat this month for saying all of his players would stand for the national anthem this season, then backtracking the next day to say he would not institute such a policy. The Dolphins briefly had a rule last season requiring players to stand or remain out of sight, which Gase said was his decision before nixing the idea after Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Julius Thomas met with him to voice their disagreement.
There is nothing on the agenda as far as working on a league rule about player protests during the anthem, but it will be a prominent topic at the meetings. Ross is on the 10-man Social Justice Working Group, which includes owners as well as current and former players.
Ross also serves on the Finance, NFL Network and International Committees.
He caused a stir at last year’s meetings in Phoenix by being the only owner to vote against the Raiders’ proposed move to Las Vegas.
“I think you’d only move a team if you really exhausted all the possibilities,” he said. “I don’t believe they did.”
One significant vote scheduled this week is on a proposal that will redefine what constitutes a catch. There have been several confusing plays in the last few years, as well as a controversy over Steelers tight end Jesse James against the Patriots during the 2017 regular season and a touchdown by Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz in the recent Super Bowl.
The Competition Committee recommended altering the rule to clarify that a catch is confirmed when a player “performs any act common to the game,” also known as a making a football move, or clearly controls the ball long enough to do so.
If the player hits the ground, does not have control over the ball at that time and the ball touches the field, it is still an incomplete pass. However, as long as he has clear control at the moment of impact with the turf, it would no longer be required that he maintain that control through hitting the ground.
Any rule change needs 24 of the 32 owners to vote in favor of it for it to pass.
Another item on the agenda is a proposal from the Jets to make pass interference a 15-yard penalty rather than a spot foul. Currently, the ball is placed where the penalty occurs with no limit on how much yardage that entails.
Gase hinted that he doesn’t like that idea.
“It probably changes for me if I’m on offense or defense,” he said. “If I was on defense, I’d be excited about it. I’d tell them any time you get beat, just tackle the guy. It’s only going to be a 15-yard penalty. If I’m on offense, I’m probably not real happy.”
Considering he’s been an offensive coach his entire career, it’s easy to see where he stands on New York’s suggestion.
There are 10 proposed changes to the playing rules and 17 related to bylaws and other procedures. Some of them are as minor as eliminating the rule that teams must attempt the point-after when they score a game-winning touchdown with no time left in regulation and giving both teams access to the NFL’s response to an inquiry about officiating from a game.
The Dolphins are putting forward a bylaw proposal making it no longer necessary for a non-vested player to be played on waivers when teams cut from 90 to 53 at the end of the preseason. That idea includes tweaks to the way the Injured Reserve list is treated during the preseason.
The overall point of Miami’s proposal is to give teams more roster flexibility during the preseason.
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