Though NFL owners today overwhelmingly approved a communication device for defenses, not everyone was in favor of the technological advance. In fact, all seven 'no' votes came from head coaches with offensive backgrounds, including Green Bay's Mike McCarthy.
The vote was 25-7 in favor — 24 yes votes were required. Voting against the measure were Seattle (Mike Holmgren), Tampa Bay (Jon Gruden), Oakland (Lane Kiffin), Philadelphia (Andy Reid), St. Louis (Scott Linehan), Washington (Jim Zorn) and Green Bay (McCarthy).
New England coach Bill Belichick, whose involvement in the Spygate scandal that included taping opposing coaches' defensive signals made the communication device a hotter topic, voted for the proposal.
McCarthy's vote against the proposal was not too surprising. He voted against the proposal last year as well, despite losing 35-0 at home to the New England Patriots in 2006. Whether the Patriots had taped Green Bay's signals prior to that game is up for debate, though, McCarthy has said that was no reason for the lopsided loss.
"Ted and I and Bob Harlan, we voted against it," McCarthy told reporters last September. "Really the reason behind that was the intent of the rule. Putting it in for the quarterback, they improve the communication, the time of the communication with the way the game has gone over the years. And the other part of it was frankly if it's your middle linebacker, there is so much defensive substitution, then who's the next guy? How are you going to juggle having two on there at the same time?
"I thought the mechanics of it weren't particularly clean, but I thought they did a much better job this past year than my first year at the meetings on trying to identify it. I think, and this may sound like the old quarterback coach in me, no one on the field, and they're making this argument, no one on the field has as much communicative responsibility, the ability to process information, as the quarterback. I think it's in for the right reasons."
"I'm sure with what happened of recent here (New England) will enlighten this topic even further as we move forward, but I don't feel the defense is at a disadvantage because there is a way to get around people stealing your signals. There is an alternative to that, and I don't feel that the defensive communication helmet is the best answer."
Under the new rule, one defensive player will wear a helmet similar to what the quarterback is allowed on offense. Should that player leave the game, a teammate can be designated to also have the device. But only one defender with the device can be on the field at a time.
The owners also tabled discussion of a rule banning a player's hair from flowing over the nameplate and number on the back of the uniform. Packers cornerback Al Harris and safety Atari Bigby would be most affected by a rule change regarding hair length.