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McKay: Full-time refs could be one solution

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 13, 2003


Bucs general manager Rich McKay, co-chairman of the NFL's competition committee, said Sunday there is merit for the league to "further discuss the issue of having full-time referees as opposed to having full-time crews" in the wake of several high-profile, controversial officiating decisions in playoff games the past two weekends.

"You never want to see games decided in people's minds on (officiating) calls," he told the Washington Post Sunday before Tampa Bay's 31-6 win over San Francisco in an NFC divisional playoff game at Raymond James Stadium. "I don't know of any real changes that will be proposed. We'll have to deal with it when we come to it. The shame of it is that in no way, shape or form should it take away from the Titans (who beat Pittsburgh on Saturday) and 49ers (who beat the New York Giants Jan. 5)."

Last week, the league apologized for missing pass interference committed by the 49ers on the final play against the Giants and commissioner Paul Tagliabue ordered changes for field positioning of officials that were implemented immediately.

In the Pittsburgh-Tennessee game, running into the kicker was called, giving Titans kicker Joe Nedney another chance after he missed from 31 yards. After a 5-yard penalty he hit his next try from 26 yards for a 34-31 win.

Steelers coach Bill Cowher sprinted across the field to yell at referee Ron Blum, who also infuriated the coach in the third quarter on a review, saying over the stadium public address system, "I don't believe that's a challengeable play, but I'm going to check."

League spokesman Greg Aiello said Sunday Blum's decision to ask for help and the penalty against Washington were reviewed by NFL director of officiating Mike Pereira. "The calls were both correct," Aiello said.

JAGUARS: The team has interviewed Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and will conduct several more interviews to fill its coaching vacancy this week, the Associated Press reported. Jaguars spokesman Dan Edwards said Weaver is much closer to filling a personnel position than the coach's spot. The Jaguars have interviewed their director of scouting, Rick Reprish, two personnel men with the Ravens -- Phil Savage and James Harris -- plus Bills assistant GM Tom Modrak.

BENGALS: Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis is the frontrunner to become Cincinnati's new coach, but the team still will interview Steelers offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, AP reported. Lewis has emerged as the top pick of Katie Blackburn, Cincinnati's executive vice president and daughter of team president Mike Brown. Mularkey will be interviewed a second time at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

TITANS: Cornerback Andre Dyson won't need surgery on his dislocated right shoulder, as the team feared, and he could be available Sunday in the AFC Championship game at Oakland. Dyson was injured in Saturday's game.

Quarterback Steve McNair was sore but tests and X-rays on his right thumb were negative. Doctors cut a piece of skin off after he banged his hand on a helmet.

Coach Jeff Fisher said running back Eddie George might be tested this week after he sustained a concussion. Also, linebacker Rocky Boiman (left knee strain) and guard Zach Piller (strained left calf) might play.

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