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NFL to review teams resting players

The NFL plans to have its rule-making competition committee review again, at some point, the issue of teams resting key players during games late in the regular season without playoff implications for them.

"This is an issue that we have reviewed in the past," Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of public relations, said in a written statement Friday. "The position of the Competition Committee, and affirmed by the clubs, when it was reviewed in 2005 was that 'a team that has clinched its division title has earned the right to rest its starters for the postseason, and that preparing for the postseason is just as important as protecting some other team's playoff opportunity.' That is the current policy.

"We are aware of the fan reaction and that is a factor to be considered. Some teams that have everything clinched, like the Giants and Patriots two years ago, choose to play all out to continue or gain momentum for the playoffs. We expect to continue to review this issue."

The Indianapolis Colts sparked a controversy when their first-year coach, Jim Caldwell, pulled quarterback Peyton Manning from last Sunday's game against the New York Jets. The Colts lost a lead and suffered their first defeat of the season.

Colts President Bill Polian later expressed surprise at the negative reaction to the move by the team's fans. Owner Jim Irsay said he'd approved the maneuver, which was designed to keep the club's front-line players healthy for the postseason. The Colts already had clinched home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

The Jets benefited from the Colts' approach and now can secure a wild-card playoff spot with a victory Sunday night at Giants Stadium over the Cincinnati Bengals, who also might rest key players.

The league seems unlikely to force teams to play certain players. But NFL officials apparently would prefer that more clubs take the approach taken in the 2007 regular season finale by the New York Giants. The Giants, even in a game without playoff implications for them, played their regulars against the New England Patriots, who were trying to complete a 16-0 regular season. The Giants lost narrowly, but used the confidence and momentum they gained from that game as a springboard to a postseason run that culminated with an upset of the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

By Mark Maske  |  January 1, 2010; 7:04 PM ET  | Category:  Colts , League Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Vick expected to play | Next: Saints to rest Brees

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Look for a rash of temporary injuries if the NFL tries something as profoundly stupid as telling a team who they can and cannot play in a game.

Posted by: dolph924 | January 2, 2010 2:50 PM

WIS193

This is the same NFL that tells their member teams who they can and cannot interview for positions in their organizations. Don't think for one second that they wouldn't dictate something like that.

Posted by: CapsNut | January 2, 2010 11:43 AM

Its just the gamblers who are complaining. To hell with them.

Posted by: MKadyman | January 2, 2010 9:38 AM

Only because the Steelers complained. This would not be the case unless Pittsburgh, New England, Dallas, or Indy complained. The first two most certainly would, Dallas would keep quiet until someone with a big mouth (i.e. Roy Williams, Flozell Adams, etc.) complained, and Indy being the classy organization that they are would not complain. Well, who can really blame the league (from a business/marketing/PR standpoint) for wanting those teams in the playoffs? It's true that they generate as much revenue and interest as anyone can and that they probably as many fans as anyone. But please. Any team that had nothing to play for in the last week and was going against a team with something to play for/nothing to lose would bench their star players to prevent potential injuries to them. It's part of the safety blanket of clinching ahead of time and, well, you deserve it if you're winning 10 or more games out of 15. Anyone (in this case on the Steelers) who complains about other teams having it in for them should look back on the season and realize that they've lost to teams with a combined record of 46-59 (and that's counting the 10-5 bengals twice), and that as the defending champions they've have no excuse to be losing 7 or 8 games, especially to losing teams. Going back to the original subject, teams should most certainly have the right to play whichever players they want to whenever they want to. What doesn't make sense, however, is starting their starters and pulling them in the second half (or any time for that matter) The league has no right to install a rule dictating who has to play when, nor do they have any real way of enforcing a such rule. For now, I think we're safe.

Posted by: wis193 | January 2, 2010 2:15 AM

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