Matt Birk will replace Art Shell as NFL appeals officer

Recently retired center Matt Birk will replace Art Shell as one of two appeals officers approved by the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

Birk, who played center on the Super Bowl-winning Baltimore Ravens last season before ending his 15-year career, will join Ted Cottrell in the job.

Under the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011, the officers review discipline handed out for on-field conduct. Player suspensions must be appealed in three days to the officers, and their decisions are binding.

NFL.com's Ian Rapoport obtained comprehensive statistics on fines. Total fines issued by the NFL have declined 32 percent since 2009, from 668 to 451 in 2012. Players had their pay docked 4.5 percent less from 2011 to 2012, from 472 fines to 451. And fines for illegal quarterback hits decreased significantly -- 46.4 percent since 2009. There were 114 fines for contact on quarterbacks in 2009 but just 61 in 2012, Rapoport reported. In 2011, that number was 89, which declined by 31.4 percent in 2012.

The league and the union must approve each officer, and the union's executive committee asked for Birk to take over for Shell. The league has agreed to that move, and both sides approved Cottrell to remain in the position.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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