New NFL OT rule won’t hit regular season

The NFL isn't ready to expand the new overtime rule to the regular season.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday the issue was tabled during owner meetings in the Dallas area two months after owners voted to remove part of the sudden-death component from overtime in the playoffs. Under the new system, a team that loses the coin flip and immediately gives up a field goal will have a chance to either tie or win the game.

In the regular season, though, the old first-team-to-score-wins rule will be in effect.

"I think the membership felt and the competition committee felt we had addressed the issue we wanted this offseason with respect to the postseason,'' Goodell said. "We want to continue to talk to our players.''

The biggest headline from two days of meetings was Tuesday's announcement that the 2014 Super Bowl will be played outdoors in New Jersey, but Goodell said owners spent plenty of time discussing labor negotiations, which are expected to resume this summer. The current deal expires after the 2010 season.

Goodell said a major talking point is expanding the 16-game regular season to 18 games, which probably would lead to the elimination of two preseason games. Like the risky decision to play the Super Bowl outside in a cold-weather city, Goodell views the expanded regular season as a way to grow the NFL.

"I think we have to continue to look at ways to improve what we're doing,'' Goodell said. "It's been very clear to us and not only our fans but also from our players that the quality of the preseason and the desire to participate in the preseason is not at the level it should be. And we have to address that issue.''

Goodell said he expects to decide within a week when Ben Roethlisberger can rejoin the Pittsburgh Steelers for offseason workouts, saying he planned to sit down with his staff to review the behavioral evaluation he ordered as part of his six-game suspension of the Steelers quarterback under the league's conduct policy.

The two-time Super Bowl winner was suspended following a March incident in which a 20-year-old college student accused Roethlisberger of sexual assault in Milledgeville, Ga. The case will not be prosecuted.

The NFL is seeking to expand drug testing to include human growth hormone, but would do so through labor discussions, Goodell said.

Although the league recently signed a deal with Anheuser-Busch worth more than $1 billion, Tuesday's meetings served as the launch of several programs with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to promote responsible drinking.

MADD officials will speak at the league's rookie symposium, and will run pilot programs on game days in Buffalo and Oakland. There will be other promotions in stadiums and involvement in community events benefiting MADD.

The league and MADD's incoming chief executive said there's no mixed message.

"We all agree safe and responsible use of the product is fine,'' said Adolpho Birch, the NFL vice president who handled the Anheuser-Busch deal.