SBD/January 7, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Has No Decision On Playoff Expansion, Despite Report It Will Occur Next Season

An NFL spokesperson in a statement yesterday said that no decision "has been made about adding a wild-card team to each conference," thus expanding the playoff field to 14, according to Marc Sessler of NFL.com. The spokesperson said, "It would require a vote of the clubs and it has not yet been taken up with them" (NFL.com, 1/6). NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted that a vote on the matter "may be voted on" at the next owners meeting in March (TWITTER.com, 1/7). "The statement came after Dan Patrick on his radio show yesterday cited a source as telling him that the league "will add a wild-card team in the AFC and the NFC next year." Patrick said, "Those are my sources close to sources who know sources who sort of know what's going on. But I'm told you'll have another wild-card team in the AFC and NFC next year. You can't add to the season, you can't go 18 games. I think the NFL realizes this. As much as they would love to, as greedy as they are, you can't do it. But you can add another playoff team." Patrick said he "would prefer not" to make it easier for teams to make the playoffs, but "I like how Jerry Jones is spearheading this." Patrick: "He's going to get the Cowboys into the postseason one way or another" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 1/6).

JONES-ING FOR MORE
: CBSSPORTS.com's Ryan Wilson wrote Jones last week indicated that he would like to see "more than 12 teams" qualify for the playoffs." Jones on Friday said, "The fact that you can have a team that might have literally operated at .500 or in that area ... you can have that team win the Super Bowl. That makes a big case for adding a couple of more cities or communities that have NFL teams to the playoffs." Jones added, "It just creates that much more excitement and that much more interest for people in those communities. So I fall on the side of the ledger that would increase the playoffs" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/4). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Michael David Smith wrote what Jones is advocating is a "playoff system that would bring more teams to the party." That would be "great for a team like this year’s Cardinals, who missed the playoffs despite going 10-6." But outside of the Cardinals, "every other team that had a winning record made the playoffs" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/3).

JUST A MATTER OF TIME?
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio said he believes two more teams will be added to the postseason by '15, as that is a "way that the NFL is going to offset the loss of revenue that will happen when the preseason is reduced.” Florio: “There is a very, very, very good chance we’re never going to see 18 games. So if you’re going to reduce the preseason, you have to offset that revenue somewhere. And when 47 million people watch a Wild Card game, that makes it even more clear that they’re going to add more Wild Card games.” He added, “Huge audiences, huge dollars, and that offsets the loss of the preseason revenue" ("PFT," NBCSN, 1/6). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said it is a "bad idea to mess with perfection" and the NFL should "always leave people wanting a little bit more." Wilbon: "But that's not what's going to happen because there's money left on the table. ... This is going to happen, the question is is it going to happen next year." ESPN's Tony Kornheiser: "It's a perfect system now, but I have watched baseball add one team and a one-game playoff and I've liked it a lot. So I'm okay with this" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/6). S.F.-area KGMZ-FM's Mark Kreidler noted the NFL "drew record ratings" for the Wild Card weekend, and adding teams "to a playoff mix literally cannot hurt you." CSN Bay Area's Jim Kozimor said if he was the NFL, "I want my best teams playing. Reward them with a home game, get your extra money. This is win-win-win: Fans, league, teams" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 1/6).

GOOD IN-GAME EXPERIENCE A NECESSITY: Patriots President Jonathan Kraft talked about the in-game experience for NFL fans during an appearance on "Arbella Early Edition" yesterday and said, "It's critical that you make that in-stadium experience special and unique. It’s why we keep investing in all types of things -- being the first stadium that had Wi-Fi in the bowl so you can screen video, the new boards we have. We’ve got some other things planned. But if you continue to invest in making that experience special, I think people will still come. Bottom line is, some of my best memories of childhood aren’t sitting on the couch with my dad and my brothers but it's actually going to the live sporting event and experiencing it." Kraft noted the fan bases in some of the cities that had difficulty selling-out last weekend "weren't sure that they were going to be hosting a playoff game." He said, "So when they got the invoices, they didn’t send them in. They said, 'Why am I going to let a team hold my money?' One of those teams I know doesn’t refund the money. They roll it into the next year and then they got caught. But I think for the most part you look around the league there's not going to be any problem this weekend or going forward. It was a unique case where two of those teams weren't certain they were going to host games, throw weather in and that's the issue" ("Arbella Early Edition," CSN New England, 1/6).
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