SBD/December 13, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Spread The Joy: Goodell Says NFL Has Talked About Expanding Current Playoff Format

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday said that the league has “discussed expanding the current 12-team playoff format to possibly as much as an NHL-like 16-team field,” according to Ralph Vacchiano of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Goodell said that the "talks were ‘teed up’ by owners on Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings in Dallas and that the NFL’s competition committee will investigate expanding the field to 14 or 16 teams.” Goodell: “We will probably be looking at it with the committee over the next several months.” Vacchiano notes in a league “driven by parity, the implications could be huge.” At the “very least, 8-8 teams in the postseason would be the norm.” Last season, 8-8 teams “would’ve made the playoff fields in both conferences.” The competition committee, which “will apparently discuss the proposal at its next meeting, has pondered the idea of expanding the playoffs in the past.” Yet despite the “obvious added revenue it would create, the idea has never been taken to a full vote of NFL owners” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/13). ESPN's John Clayton reported the idea is to "expand the playoffs to 14-16 teams." If Goodell can "talk the players into an 18-game regular-season schedule, it would happen automatically." More than half the teams in both the NBA and NHL qualify for the postseason, and "eventually that will happen in the NFL." Next season is possible, but '14 is "more likely” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 12/12). YAHOO SPORTS’ Brian McIntyre wrote the current format “appears to be perfect, both in terms of the number of games in January and ensuring that nearly all of the 256-game regular season remains important.” Any expansion of the postseason would “likely involve the elimination of bye weeks in the post-season, requiring the top two teams in each conference to play in the Wild Card round” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/12).

WHY RUIN A GOOD THING? NBC Sports Network’s Shaun King said the “only reason to expand is if you’re doing it because of the money.” He noted the NFL is not like college football, where fans almost every year feel there are "some teams that were worthy of being in a championship game … that don’t make it." King: "When’s the last time you finished the NFL season and felt like there was a team that didn’t make the playoffs that should be there?” NBC Sports Network’s Pete Najarian said, “Do not reward mediocrity. … This is an absolute moneygrab. This is something the NFL is above” (“NBC Sports Talk,” NBC Sports Network, 12/12). NFL Network’s Mark Kriegel said, “It’s not a good thing at all. I’m against anything that contributes to the cause of mediocrity, and this certainly will. This is supposed to be a meritocracy.” But NFL Network’s Frank Wyche supports an expanded postseason, saying, "I’m going against the contrary belief that we’re going to water things down" (“NFL AM,” NFL Network, 12/13).
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