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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 3, 2010

NFL: Policy on resting starters in late-season games to be reviewed


STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer

MIAMI Commissioner Roger Goodell says the NFL competition committee will review league policy regarding late-season games where teams might be tempted to rest their starters for the playoffs.

Goodell said the league was sensitive to criticism in the wake of the Indianapolis Colts' decision to use backups a week ago in a game they lost, ending their bid for a perfect season.

"It is something we'll look at," Goodell said Sunday. "We heard the fans loud and clear. It's something our competition committee has looked at in the past, but we're going to ask our competition committee to look at it again in the future. We want every game to be competitive."

The league's position has been that playoff-bound teams enjoy the right to rest their starters to prepare for the postseason.

The Colts already had clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs when coach Jim Caldwell sat Peyton Manning and other starters in the second half, and the Jets rallied to win. NFL purists were upset the Colts didn't go all-out with a shot at a perfect season.

"We want to make sure the integrity of the NFL is first and foremost in everyone's mind, and try to find ways to make sure our games are competitive at all points in the season, including the preseason," Goodell said.

The commissioner spoke before the game between the Dolphins and Steelers. He was in Miami to take part in an 80th birthday celebration for former Dolphins coach Don Shula, who won an NFL- record 347 games and two Super Bowls.

"He's an extraordinary guy," Goodell said. "You don't like to define people in terms of numbers. But when you talk about 347, you talk about two Super Bowls, and now he has added 80 to that list he's a special guy to the NFL and we're proud of everything he has done."