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Owners pass new rules at meetings

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The NFL spring meetings reached a frenzy of excitement in their third day yesterday, with these issues, mostly involving fairness of the game, playing conditions, code of conduct and accumulation of wealth, decided:

• The application of the five-yard facemask penalty was suspended, except in the case of five-yard faces.

• The sale of half of the Miami Dolphins, from Wayne Huizenga to Stephen Ross, was unanimously approved by the ownership at large and at XL. "I always wanted to own half a dolphin," Ross said.

• In the interest of Competitive Balance, a runner must undergo testing to make sure he is a balanced individual.

• Instant replay may include field goal reviews, provided the kicker can guarantee that upon review he can kick the goal with exactly the same trajectory and aim.

• The practice of "deferring" will be permitted in the coin toss procedure, just as it is in the collegiate rules. This means that if the referee doesn't feel sufficiently skillful to toss the coin he can defer to another official, the captain of either team, a dedicated tosser named by the owner of the home team or anyone else who shows applicable wrist strength.

• A compromise was reached in the issue of hair. It must be braided and tucked into the back of the jersey. The penalty for removing it and waiving it in a distracting or unpleasant manner during the course of play will be 15 yards and ejection. Of the hair.

• Reseeding will take place, under a new playoff formula. This will be done under the supervision of the head groundskeeper and only carrot, fern or Bermuda grass seeds will be permitted.

• The issue of a defensive team calling time out to distract a team in the process of kicking a field goal was tabled. Designated tables include mahogany, maple and cherrywood.

Please stay tuned for further April 1 announcements from the National Football League.

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