NFL to emphasize rules on player conduct


ORLANDO, Fla. — The NFL will place a heavy emphasis on enforcing its player conduct rules, something Rams coach Jeff Fisher calls “a front-of-the-book issue.”

As the league’s spring meetings wrapped up Wednesday with Commissioner Roger Goodell saying expansion of the playoffs next season is possible, sportsmanship — and lack thereof — was the prime topic.

“We’re going to clean the game up on the field,” said Fisher, co-chairman of the influential competition committee. “The in-your-face taunting, those types of things, the language. It’s all in the (rule) book. It’s all under unsportsmanlike conduct. There’s no change in our rule. We’re going to enforce the current rule.”

That includes abusive and racist language.

“It includes everything, yes,” Fisher said with emphasis.

He noted that everyone is fed up when a lack of sportsmanship occurs: owners, coaches, fans, players.

“The NCAA is hoping for us to do something about it and we’ve got to take the lead,” Fisher said, “and we’re going to do that.”

The Miami Dolphins were plagued by a bullying scandal last season after tackle Jonathan Martin left the team. NFL investigators found that guard Richie Incognito and two teammates engaged in persistent harassment directed at Martin, another offensive lineman and an assistant trainer. Incognito was suspended for the final eight games of the season and no longer is with the Dolphins.

Taunting penalties also were up last year, Fisher said, from “nine to 12 or 13.”

While the owners voted or tabled a dozen rules or bylaw changes, expanding the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams — one in each conference — was discussed. Goodell is optimistic that’s coming, and he will discuss it with the players union April 8. A vote could come as early as the owners’ May meeting in Atlanta.

Also on Wednesday, the owners:

Approved experimentation with extra-point kicks from the 20-yard line for two weeks in the preseason, but implementing longer PATs for the regular season has been tabled.

Adopted proposals to extend the length of the goalposts 5 feet to 35 feet to better determine if kicks are good; to no longer stop the clock on sacks; and to allow video reviews on plays with a recovery of a loose ball on the field even though the play had been whistled dead.

Rejected proposals to move kickoffs to the 40-yard line; to allow more than one player to be placed on injured reserve, then return to the roster during the season; to subject personal foul penalties to video review; to permit coaches to challenge any officiating decision except on scoring plays or turnovers, which automatically are reviewed; and to eliminate the first preseason cutdown to 75 players.

No surgery for Kelly for cancer

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Doctors treating Hall of Fame and former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, 54, now say surgery is not the best option for dealing with his cancer.

Kelly’s wife, Jill, posted an update online Wednesday saying the treatment plan for her husband has changed because the cancer is in areas from which it cannot be eradicated by surgery.

She says doctors believe chemotherapy and radiation are the best option given the cancer’s complexity and aggressive nature.

By wire sources