- Playoff expansion/reseeding: The NFL Competition Committee has proposed expanding the NFL playoff field from 12 teams to 14 teams. Rooney said he is not opposed to expansion, but it has to be looked at closer, including when additional games would be scheduled.
“I think I’ve said this before I’d really like to kind of understand what all goes with it,” said Rooney. “But I think it’s certainly worthy of discussion. This year would have been a year that would have been some benefit to us. I think it really depends a lot on the impact that it has on the playoffs, when those other games would be played, what impact that might have on the regular season, all those types of things.”
However, Rooney is against the idea of reseeding the playoffs, with a wild card team with a better record possibly hosting a home game, but a divisional winner with a lesser record not having the opportunity to do so. He said that would be a deal breaker for the Steelers.
“As you know, there has been discussion about reseeding in the playoffs, which we would be opposed to,” said Rooney. “We really think that the division rivalries are one of the great things we have in our sport. Really, it’s one of the great things that has been a part of Steelers’ football down through the years. We would not be in favor of anything that changes the division situation.”
Moving the PAT: Another rule change the NFL Competition Committee has put forth is moving the line of scrimmage for the extra point back to the defense’s 25-yard line. Rooney said Steelers’ Coach Mike Tomlin came up with an idea that might prove to be more worthwhile, but he doesn’t expect to see anything change.
“Mike Tomlin’s idea and I don’t know if he’s commented on it publicly, but his idea was to move it to the one-yard line,” said Rooney. “You can either kick or go for two from the one, which to me, there’s something to be said for it. It certainly would encourage people to go for the two. It’s not as extreme as moving the ball back to the 20 or 25-yard line. So I kind of like that proposal.”
Maintaining sportsmanship: Rooney weighed in on the suggestion by John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that monitors diversity in the NFL, to assess a player a 15-yard penalty for using a racial slur on the field, with possible ejection after multiple infractions.
“Number one I think having a discussion about sportsmanship is welcomed and I think it’s something that the idea of being positive on the field and respecting the opponent, I think those are all important goals,” said Rooney. “In terms of a specific rule for the n-word or something as specific as that, I’m not sure that’s the way to go about it. I think it’s a matter of leadership. I think it’s a matter of really my dad talking to some of the players about it. Joe Greene has made comments about it. I think it’s a little bit of a generation gap kind of thing. I think the younger players have a different attitude toward it and you can’t change that with a 15-yard penalty. It’s much bigger than that.
“I think it’s a matter of people taking a leadership position and really having the younger players kind of understand the whole history of it.”