Head Coach Tony Dungy is part of a large Buc contingent in Palm Beach, where the NFL will discuss the return of instant replay
The National Football League's Annual Meeting, also commonly referred to as the owners' meeting, is taking place this week in Palm Beach, Florida. Palm Beach is just a short cross-state hop for Tampa Bay travelers, meaning no pesky jet lag. That's a good thing, because Buccaneer representatives need to be sharp, considering the major role they are playing in this year's meeting.
In addition to Owner/President Malcolm Glazer, who calls West Palm Beach home, key Bucs on hand include Executive Vice Presidents Bryan Glazer, Joel Glazer and Ed Glazer General Manager Rich McKay, Head Coach Tony Dungy, Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Backs Coach Herman Edwards and Director of Football Administration John Idzik. That group will be thoroughly involved in an agenda that features discussions on such hot-button issues as instant replay, realignment and the off-field violence policy.
None of those topics were discussed in depth on Monday, as McKay reported to Buccaneers.com, but they are approaching in the next few days. McKay indicated that the morning's proceedings consisted largely of NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's opening presentation as well as the approval of the sale of the minority interest in the Baltimore Ravens and some presentations regarding future internet opportunities for the league.
When instant replay is discussed, McKay will play a prominent role. As co-chair of the prestigious NFL Competition Committee, McKay will help lead a presentation Tuesday afternoon on replay, which returned to the league in 1999. After the presentation, the league will vote Wednesday on whether to retain the system.
McKay also expects the league to get to the issue of off-field violence on Tuesday. Dungy and Edwards comprise one third of the panel that will lead that discussion, along with coaches from Baltimore and Seattle. McKay thinks the panel's work will be useful in defining the issue with the league's owners, if not yet leading to any policy changes. "I don't know if they are necessarily hoping to accomplish anything other than educate some of the owners with respect to some of the issues," said McKay. "I don't think they're necessarily going to present the answers as much as some of the issues that we face."
That does not minimize the importance of the issue, however. Commissioner Tagliabue addressed it prominently in his opening remarks and promised that the league would continue to treat it as a critical topic. "Another challenge is to maintain respect for the people in our game," said Tagliabue to the assemblage of team owners and other league representatives. "Criminal behavior by athletes has been a negative issue in sports for several years. We all know that most of our players are good citizens. But the ones who get in trouble generate an enormous amount of negative publicity for the league. This is clearly a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. We do have programs and policies in place to support our players. But our players – and other pro athletes – face pressures that few others in our society face. Therefore, we need to do more to prevent these incidents from happening. We will continue the dialogue here intensively this week and through the next two months, then present policy recommendations to you at the May meeting."
McKay also does not forecast any crucial turn in the realignment issue, which is hoping to make geographical sense out of a 32-team league after the new Houston franchise begins play in 2002. "I think there's talk about the various proposals out there," he said. "I don't think there's going to be any talk about any specific proposal, because we're still two years away. It's a little early to be lining up the divisions."
That's okay, because there's plenty to do this week. And the Buccaneers will be right in the middle of it.