Sunday, November 18, 2007

nfl rule book

PITTSBURGH―Dan Rooney, owner and chair of the Pittsburgh Steelers, will sign and discuss his new book, "Dan Rooney: My 75 Years With the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL," (Da Capo Press, 2007), at noon Nov. 28, in the University of Pittsburgh Book Center, 4000 Fifth Ave., Oakland.

Rooney, a son of Steelers founder Art Rooney, has been affiliated with the NFL since the early 1960s. He has spent more than 50 years in various positions with the family-owned Steelers. In 1975, he was appointed president of the organization and took over total control of the franchise in 1988 after his father's death.

Rooney has been praised as one of the most influential NFL executives in league history, both on and off the field. During his tenure, the Steelers have won the American Football Conference's (AFC) Central Division Championship 14 times, the AFC Championship six times, and the Super Bowl five times. Rooney helped negotiate the collective bargaining agreement of 1982, which ended a strike that lasted half of the season. He is one of the architects of the modern NFL salary cap, implemented in 1993. He is the namesake of the "Rooney Rule," which requires NFL teams with head coaching and general manager vacancies to interview at least one minority candidate. Rooney was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

In his autobiography, Rooney talks about growing up on Pittsburgh's North Side, learning the ropes of big-time sports from his father, and his part in shaping the modern NFL into what it is today. He also speaks about winning and losing and discusses his relationships with family, coaches, players, owners, NFL commissioners, the media, and fans.

The book was published in concordance with the team's 75th anniversary. This event is open to the public. For more information, call 412-648-1453. PHILADELPHIA -- With his chiseled body, wordy explanations and intimate understanding of even the most obscure rules, NFL referee Ed Hochuli is regarded as a legend by some fans. You can count the Bears among those fans after the 19-16 victory Sunday over the Philadelphia Eagles.

To a man, Bears players and coaches figured they were sunk when an apparent botched snap was retrieved by Eagles safety Sean Considine and returned to the Bears' 9 before Cedric Benson ran him down. The score was tied at 9 early in the fourth quarter, but the play was ruled dead, and the Bears retained possession.

''If the ball was snapped between the quarterback's legs, he has to be the one to get the ball,'' assistant supervisor of officials Art McNally said. ''Under those circumstances, it has to be ruled a false start. If he's in shotgun and the pass is snapped over his head, clean play, pick it up and go ahead and go the other way. Everything's fine. The fact [the quarterback] is taking the snap direct from center, goes through his legs, [the referee] has to kill it right away. False start.''

Just like the rule book says, right Lovie Smith?

''No, I haven't seen that,'' Smith said. ''But I'm all in favor of that rule.''

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner said he has studied the rule book, but that was a new one on him. He was just hoping that someone had slapped the ball away from center Olin Kreutz or that there was a neutral-zone violation by the Eagles. He admitted it didn't look good when Considine was running the other way with the ball.

Kreutz said he just failed to get the ball up, but Brian Griese said the point of the football got stuck in a loose patch of grass and just skimmed past him.

''I looked at the JumboTron, the replay, and I never touched the ball,'' Griese said. ''I guess there were some chunks in the middle of the field and Olin went to snap the ball, and the nose of the ball got caught in the chunks of the grass, but I've never experienced that ruling before. That was quite fortuitous for us.''

It was a weird and uneven night for Hochuli and his crew. They started off calling a personal foul on Eagles punt returner Reno Mahe for signaling a fair catch and then blocking, made a mystery call of defensive holding that helped the Bears and made a strange offensive-pass-interference call on Greg Olsen.

Hochuli also had a problem with his microphone and could be heard talking with other officials for extended periods, including a conversation about how his microphone wasn't working. He also said ''check, check, check'' about 18 times during one TV timeout. And on the kickoff before the Eagles' only touchdown, he changed the time on the clock from 11:21 to 9:21, explaining he'd added a minute the wrong way.
If there is an unwritten rule that NFL players don't lose their jobs to injuries, then it's not posted in the Bears' unwritten rule book.

The question was posed to Bears coach Lovie Smith on Wednesday after he announced Rex Grossman would replace Brian Griese at quarterback. Griese left Sunday's game with a sprained AC joint in his left, non-throwing shoulder but doesn't consider it serious enough to keep him from playing against the Seahawks.

"What [unwritten] rule is that?" Smith said. "This is the rule we have: We're going to go with who gives us the best chance to win, period. You take injuries, you take everything, into consideration.

"I've heard that comment a lot and all I think about in winning a football game is who gives us the best chance to do that."

Griese, despite acknowledging a team doctor had told him he should be fine by Sunday, has played long enough to accept the reality presented him.

"This is the NFL and nothing is guaranteed," he said. "I'd like to think I did [play well enough to keep his job]. Obviously, we all think we could play better and be in a better situation, but I think there are some things we did we can build on."


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