NFL mulls agenda

Posted: 6:45 p.m.

PALM BEACH, Fla. - The NFL annual meetings don't begin officially until Monday, and as various committees met Sunday afternoon the Bengals braintrust of president Mike Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis preferred to hold off on any comments until the league takes some kind of action the next few days.

So Lewis, a member of the NFL's competition committee, had no comment on the Chiefs' proposal to ban hair so that it doesn't obstruct names or numbers on the back of the jersey.

The proposal is getting a stiff arm from the players and could run into some problems when it is discussed Tuesday. The most notable Bengals that would be affected by the rule would be wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh with his ponytail and defensive tackle Domata Peko with long flowing hair that flops over and around his No. 94.

Falcons president Rich McKay, co-chairman of the competition committee, admitted Sunday that no one has briefed them on the section of the collective bargaining agreement that forbids players to be disciplined for hair.

"It's not regulating the length of hair," McKay said. "You just have to put it up (for the game)."

Chiefs coach Herm Edwards says the proposal isn't intended as disciplinary action.

"We're not advocating that players have to cut their hair," Edwards told The Wisconsin State Journal. "We just want the hair underneath the helmet. We're not saying you have to cut your hair."

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Peko

Houshmandzadeh has said he'll tuck the hair inside his uniform. Peko, a native of Samoa, hasn't been reached for comment but he has pointed to cultural reasons for the length of his hair. Mike Nolan, the 49ers head coach who is for the rule as a uniform change, has watched another Samoan defensive lineman, Isaac Sopoaga, deal with his hair.

"He puts it back into his helmet," Nolan said. "He's got a bunch of hair. He puts it into almost like a turban."

And then are committee members like Lions general manger Matt Millen, a guy that played for the hairy Raiders of the '80s.

"I haven't given it much thought," Millen said.

TRADE TALK: Millen has given the blown-up trade with the Bengals some thought. He said Sunday it was strictly time that prevented Detroit from dealing defensive tackle Shaun Rogers to the Bengals in the Leap Day trade that got tripped up in the NFL office, and not that Cleveland had a better offer.

Of course, Millen didn't wait around, either, and almost immediately dealt Rogers to Cleveland for cornerback Leigh Bodden and a draft pick in lieu of the two draft picks to Cincinnati.

"Why it got thrown out is that once it hits 4 o'clock and, trust me, that was talked about very specifically," Millen said. "The deal we ended up with I had already talked about and the deal with Mike (Brown) is basically the same thing," Millen said. "That's not the point. The point was we were happy with both deals. The timing just didn't work (with the Bengals)."

Since the Bengals submitted the trade before the 4 p.m., deadline, the NFL mulled if they and the Lions could indeed change the roster bonus language the next day. But Millen didn't wait around for a ruling.

"Once they told me that we couldn't do that, I just did a different deal. I just went the other way," Millen said. "Once they said no to the Bengals, you know, you've got to get going."

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Utecht

COLTS ON BEN: Colts president Bill Polian, the man that decided not to match the Bengals three-year, $9 million offer for tight end Ben Utecht, gave a defensive answer Sunday.

"We were trying to find a way to match it. We wanted to match it, but in the end we decided we needed to put it on the other side of the ball," Polian said.

Here is Polian's scouting report:

"Good hands. Good route runner. Great kid. Not a great blocker. We didn't feel, because of his size (6-6) that it was something he was going to be natural at. But a good player."

AGENDA ITEMS: The hair proposal, as well as a proposal to re-seed the playoffs may not make it.

Guys like Millen may be in the minority when it comes to seeding the playoffs for teams three through six on the basis of record and not division championships.

"I think it keeps the season interesting," Millen said.

But violating the sanctity of the division title is going to be hard for a lot of people to get around.

Ravens top boss Ozzie Newsome, a member of the competition committee, thinks the defensive radio helmet is going to pass muster. He also thinks eliminating forceouts is going to pass. If a player catches a pass and is hit but not carried out of bounds before getting two feet in-bounds, it's a no-catch.

But Newsome doesn't think the rule will cut down on scoring.

"I don't think so. When we looked at the 13 to 15 plays (in '07), half got their feet in and the other half, the guy wouldn't have been in. I think it's going to make it easier to officiate."

One thing not on the agenda is discussing how late a coach can call a timeout in icing a field-goal kicker. Newsome said the coaches wanted to leave things the way they are, citing their concern about being able to call a timeout in order to get 12 men off the field.

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