SBD/Issue 163/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NFL Unlikely To Alter Playoffs At Meetings Starting Tomorrow

NFL Playoff Expansion To Be
Tackled By Owners

The NFL's competition committee last week "unanimously rejected the proposal to add two more teams to the playoff mix, essentially ensuring rejection by the owners" at their meetings beginning tomorrow in Philadelphia, according to Kevin Mannix of the BOSTON HERALD. The "primary objection to the proposal as written," which is backed by the Chiefs and Patriots, is that it provides first-round byes to "just one team in each conference." Chiefs Owner Lamar Hunt: "There are two teams getting byes now. I don't understand how it's worse for one team to have a bye, compared to two." Hunt added that his preference is to expand the playoffs from 12 to 16 teams, meaning that all first-round byes would be eliminated. But Mannix wrote the Patriots' "goal has already been achieved," as the league is "seriously considering expanding" the playoff field (BOSTON HERALD, 5/18). Colts President and Competition Committee member Bill Polian said another reason for rejecting the proposal is "you'd be adding clearly a weak team and a non-deserving team in many cases because [a record of] 10-6 is our benchmark. ... When you begin to explore it, which is what the competition committee is charged to do, we found it isn't as simple and easy and equitable as it looked at the outset" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/18). In Boston, Ron Borges wrote that TV is "not in favor of the move because it fears being stuck with playoff blowouts that don't hold the audience." Also, the majority of owners "see no reason to change the present system" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/18).

SUPER BOWL NEWS: In N.Y., Gary Myers reported that a meeting Friday between the Giants and NJ Sports & Exposition authority regarding a $250M renovation of Giants Stadium "produced no progress." If renovations are not done, it would "end any chance of the Super Bowl at Giants Stadium." The NFL "wants to see something presented at the October owners' meetings in Chicago, which means it needs something in its office by September." Giants VP John Mara, when asked if the effort is "in jeopardy": "I wouldn't want to say that. But we are starting to run out of time" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/18)....In Jacksonville, Matt Galnor reported that a proposal before the City Council "would hold the city responsible if the Super Bowl Host Committee cannot pay back" an $11.7M loan for cruise ships being used to house guests. But the host committee "would need to fall 28[%] short of its projected cruise ship revenues for the taxpayers to be liable." In order to "get the money needed to secure the cruise ships, the bank needed the city to sign on" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 5/17).

OFFICIALLY UPSET: In NJ, Paul Needell reported that a group "alleging to consist of members" of the NFL Referees' Association — which reps 119 game officials — recently sent NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue a "scathing letter in defense of" the eight officials who were fired this offseason, "promising the issue 'will not die.'" The letter stated the officials "have been made the scapegoat" for "over-paid supervisors, most of who (sic) are unqualified." But Tagliabue "says he is unaware of any problems between" NFL Dir of Officiating Mike Pereira and league execs (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 5/18).

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