OT verdict no hit with coaches

NFL owners make the final decisions with their franchises.

Never has that been more clear than it was this week, when owners voted, 28-4, in favor of a modified overtime system even though many of their coaches and general managers advised against it.

While several coaches expressed their frustrations privately, New Orleans coach Sean Payton vented publicly Wednesday about what transpired a day earlier.

“That kind of got slipped in the back door,” Payton said at a media breakfast. “That’s a taste you have in your mouth that is bitter.”

Later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell defended the process and said the new system, which for now will be used only in the postseason, will be “received very well by the fans.”

“We had a full discussion (Tuesday) morning with the coaches in the room,” Goodell said. “We had a full debate and the owners heard it. It’s probably no secret that there are certain owners who have different feelings than the coaches.

Then, pointedly: “This might not come as a news flash, but the owners have a vote.”

McNabb to Rams? Nyet

Reports that the St. Louis Rams are trying to acquire Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb are untrue, according to a person familiar with the team’s plans. Philadelphia media outlets reported the Rams had offered a second-round draft pick and safety Oshiomoghe Atogwe for McNabb. The source told The Associated Press that the reports were unfounded.

Atogwe is coming off shoulder surgery and ended the season on injured reserve, and would have to sign a tender offer before the Rams could trade him.

The Rams have interest in taking Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the first pick of the draft. Coach Andy Reid said this week the Eagles are willing to entertain trade offers for any of their three quarterbacks – McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick.

NFL safety rules pass

At league meetings in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, the NFL passed rules to further protect defenseless players, including ballcarriers who lose their helmet during a play.

No longer can a player be hit in the head or neck area by an opponent who launches himself and uses his helmet, shoulder or forearm to make contact.

NFL rules also will now echo those in college when a player running with the ball loses his helmet. The whistle will blow immediately and the ball will be placed at the “progress spot” where the helmet came off.

Extra points

The NFL and the NFL Alumni Association have established a neurological care program for retired players. The plan makes available to the former players neurological specialists at five medical centers. NFL Alumni Association executive director George Martin says the doctors will evaluate and treat possible neurological conditions. … Veteran tight end Alge Crumpler has signed a free-agent contract with New England, filling a glaring hole in the Patriots’ offense. … Prosecutors will not pursue domestic battery charges against former NFL star Warren Sapp, who was arrested in Miami Beach a day before the Super Bowl. Sapp had faced a misdemeanor domestic battery charge, but prosecutors dropped the action because of inconsistencies between the victim’s statements and evidence.