SBD/January 9, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Goodell's Support Of Expanded NFL Playoffs Garners Mostly Positive Reaction

Adding two games to Wild Card weekend might compel the NFL to add a third day
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's comments on Tuesday backing an expanded NFL playoff format has generated significant discussion across North America. In Pittsburgh, Bob Smizik writes, "What's not to like about yet another addition to most exciting time in team sports -- the postseason?" Fans will "love more postseason NFL games because they offer up more entertainment value and add additional drama to the regular season." The "real powers in American sports, the TV networks, are rubbing their hands with glee" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/9). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes, "You know this is going to happen. Because it always happens." Sports "never saw something good that it didn't want to make much, much bigger." Gay: "Can the NFL endure more playoffs? Of course. Will people watch? Of course" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/9). ESPN's Max Kellerman said, "Of course you're going to expand the playoffs. The NFL will continue to supply the product that the people apparently have not gotten enough of." He said the league "will stretch" the schedule "up until the point the player can't survive the schedule" ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 1/8). In Toronto, John Kryk writes adding two more games to Wild Card weekend "likely would compel the NFL to add another day of games." Kryk: "A playoff Monday Night Football game? Yes, please." While some are "concerned it will water down the playoff field," adding one playoff team per conference and two playoff games per year "is insignificant dilution" (TORONTO SUN, 1/9).

MONEY (THAT'S WHAT I WANT): SPORTS ON EARTH's Colin McGowan wrote because expanding the playoffs will make the league more money, "we can expect it to implement it in the near future" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 1/8). In Phoenix, Bob Young writes NFL owners "will love it because of the potential for increased revenues, even if they are already experiencing trouble selling all of their tickets for the wild-card round." Goodell pointed out that on the "final week of the season that 13 of the 16 games had playoff implications." But Young writes that scenario "sounds more like an argument for keeping things as they are than one for expansion" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/9).

NEVER TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING: CBS' Phil Simms noted he would not have been in favor of expanding the playoffs last year, but said, "Now, I would love to see another team added to it.” Simms: “We see there’s not much different between No. 1 and No. 8. We see it every year now, so getting that extra playoff game every year would be great.” He noted adding more playoff games might “keep the NFL -- the money they would get from the extra playoff games -- from wanting to go to an 18-game schedule.” NBC's Cris Collinsworth said he would “add four teams” to make it a 16-team playoff field. Collinsworth: "I would have just a straight playoff, no byes, no nothing. You get one versus eight, you go right down the list.” Simms agreed with Collinsworth and asked, “Do you get tired watching playoff football on these weekends? You can’t wait to watch them because there’s such a finality to it, a long season, so important that we can’t wait to see who wins.” Simms said expanded playoffs would “stabilize two things which I think need to stabilized in the NFL: Head coaches and quarterbacks.” Collinsworth noted the NFL is "going to sell the extra playoff game." Collinsworth: "Cha-ching, they like that part of it. Think of how many games we see on television now in December where there’s about 40,000 people sitting there watching it. All of a sudden now you include 16 teams in the playoffs and really balance up the playoff schedule at that point, now some of those teams even with five or six wins last couple weeks are selling-out because they still have a chance mathematically” (“Inside the NFL,” Showtime, 1/8).

DON'T DILUTE THE FIELD: ESPN’s J.A. Adande said there is a "difference between striving for parody and rewarding mediocrity." Adande: "We don’t need mediocre teams in the playoffs.” ESPN’s Bomani Jones said, “The more you add these mediocre teams to your postseason tournament, the more you wind up, ultimately, randomizing your champion and the integrity of it kind of shakes.” The N.Y. Daily News’ Frank Isola noted of the NFL, "They have the golden goose already. Why are they trying to kill it by adding more games? It’s absurd to play on a Friday and a Monday during the playoffs. The system they have right now is working. Just keep it that way” ("Around The Horn," ESPN 1/8). ESPN's Michael Smith said the playoffs are "supposed to be exclusive" and added, "I don't want average teams in the playoffs" ("Numbers Never Lie," ESPN2, 1/8). ESPN’s Dan Graziano: "I just don’t think adding at the bottom end of anything is a way to improve the quality of your product.” He added, “More often than not I think you're going to end up with teams in there that aren’t quite good enough to be in there" ("NFL Insiders," ESPN, 1/8).
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