The National Football League owners closed their annual March meeting Thursday by appointing a committee to search for a successor to commissioner Pete Rozelle and passing instant replay for another year.
The old guard will be very much in charge of screening the candidates who are in line to replace Rozelle.Wellington Mara, the owner of the New York Giants, and Lamar Hunt, the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, are the conference presidents who head the selection committee.
They picked Art Modell, the owner of the Cleveland Browns, Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ralph Wilson, the owner of the Buffalo Bills, and Ralph Parins, the president of the Green Bay Packers as the other four members of the committee.
The owners also gave Rozelle a farewell present yesterday by approving instant replay on a one-year basis for the fourth straight year.
"This was one for the Gipper," said Bill Bidwill, the owner of the Phoenix Cardinals, said after replay passed by a 24-4 vote. Bidwill was one of the four owners to vote no.
"It was a legacy thing," said one executive who asked not to be identified.
Rozelle has long been a proponent of instant replay and the opponents feared it would be viewed as a rebuff of the commissioner if they voted it down the day after he resigned.
If it had been voted in on a permanent basis, the opponents would have needed 21 votes to kill it next year. Now they'll need just eight to stop it next year.
Hunt said he would have voted no if Rozelle had tried to get it passed on a permanent basis.
Mike Lynn, the general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, favored adopting the United States Football League system in which the coach asks for a replay and loses a timeout if the call is not overturned. But he said there was little support for the system and Lynn wound up voting yes.