NEW YORK - New director of football operations Troy Vincent can see in the NFL's future a developmental league, an eighth official on the field for games, and coaches' using tablets on the sidelines to call plays.
Vincent, a former Pro Bowl player with the Eagles and president of the players' union, recently replaced Ray Anderson, who left the league to become athletic director at Arizona State.
"Each of us shares the responsibility for preserving and growing the game," Vincent said before mentioning some specific projects that could be on the NFL's horizon.
One is establishing a developmental league.
"We need to keep the pipeline of talent flowing, and that means for all areas of our game: players, coaches, scouts, game officials. I am responsible to look at whatever the competition committee looks at, and that includes a developmental league.
"For all this football talent around, we have to create another platform for developing it. Maybe it's an academy - what would it look like? Maybe it's a spring league; we'll look to see if there is an appetite for it."
NFL Europe, the last such league, folded in 2007. But it produced plenty of NFL talent in all sorts of jobs.
Vincent said the league once again will experiment with an eighth official in the preseason, then the competition committee will assess the value of making a change. The game has become faster and far more pass-oriented since the NFL went from six officials to seven in 1978.
"As the game evolves, we owe it to the officials themselves, to the players, the coaches, and to the fans to keep a fresh approach," Vincent said.
By using the eighth official - essentially a second back judge - this summer, the NFL also increases the pool of officials it could hire who have some sort of game experience.
Vincent gets animated talking about upgrading technology, noting that his eighth-grade son watches cut-ups of plays on an iPad, yet coaches still use printouts. He chuckles when recalling how still photos sent down from the coaches box could get wet and be virtually useless in bad weather.
And he shakes his head while considering the possibilities.