USA TODAY Sports' Jarrett Bell recaps the happenings on Day 2 at the annual NFL meetings. USA TODAY Sports
PHOENIX — The idea seems sensible enough. Install fixed cameras along the boundaries of the field at every NFL site, and allow for the use of stadium video in providing angles for instant replay.
Maybe that would prevent a few bad calls from slipping through the cracks.
Yet once again, the proposal from Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots failed to cross the goal line. Tabled. In a sense, that represents progress. Last year, a similar proposal was flat-out rejected.
It seems like such a no-brainer.
Although there's a history of long odds for passage of rule proposals brought forth by teams rather than the powerful competition committee — NFL owners on Tuesday rejected seven of the proposals from teams — in this particular case the idea might have more steam if it were suggested by someone other than Belichick.
For all of his accomplishments, Belichick is not the most popular guy in the room.
Hello, NFL politics.
John Mara, the New York Giants co-owner and competition committee member, told Newsday this week that cost was one of the factors working against the fixed-camera proposal.
Cost? The NFL generates more than $11 billion in revenues. St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is willing to foot a significant chunk of the bill for a proposed stadium in Los Angeles that would cost nearly $2 billion. And given the fleet of private jets at the disposal of owners, we're not talking about a penny-pinching crowd.
"I was disappointed to hear that we can't afford that," Belichick said, when someone asked about Mara's remarks during the AFC coaches breakfast on Tuesday. "It was kind of surprising to hear that."
Last year, when cost was also mentioned as a factor, Belichick wisecracked that maybe the NFL could raise funds by having a bake sale.
The point is that for as often as the NFL pledges that it wants to get it right with officiating — and usually it does — the installation of the cameras seems to be a natural fit that would provide another layer of consistency.
A team executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told USA TODAY Sports that teams were told that the cost to install the cameras could approach $20 million, and that manpower was mentioned as another issue. The person did not want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Yet the executive also senses that Belichick — whose other proposal, to allow for any type of play to be reviewable, was also rejected for the second year in a row — doesn't garner as much support as he could because of differences with colleagues around the league.
After the Patriots were named in the Deflategate issue, the level of disdain for Belichick became more apparent to me as several current and former coaches and executives expressed suspicion about his tactics. No doubt, some of this stems as far back as the Spygate episode. And it's fair to wonder whether professional jealousy is a factor, too, given Belichick's four Super Bowl victories.
In any event, Belichick's sharp proposal about the camera has been tabled to allow for further study.
Meanwhile, a proposal from the competition committee that stemmed from the controversy about the Patriots' substitutions in the AFC divisional playoff against Baltimore Ravens passed, to require that a previously eligible receiver declaring himself ineligible, must now line up in the tackle box.
So much for that loophole Belichick exposed.
Yes, it's tough for a team to get a proposal passed, but not impossible. Late Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, for instance, worked hard to get the two-point conversion instituted — and it finally happened in 1994.
Belichick — bolstered by his appreciation for the game's history — would make a great member of the competition committee. Over several years, he's made some thoughtful proposals. But you know the deal. Getting rule proposals passed in the NFL is a lot like the process for getting laws passed on Capitol Hill. It can take some lobbying.
Somehow, that does not fit Belichick's profile.
One serving of the grumpy coach on Tuesday morning — when he dismissed questions with uninspired responses during his breakfast media session — reconfirmed what we already know.
Belichick is no politician.
It's too bad. Because in this case, he surely deserves some votes.
Follow NFL columnist Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.
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