SBD/May 21, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFLPA Could Use Louisiana Workers' Comp Law In Effort To Block Expanded Playoffs

Smith could use the proposed playoff plan as a bargaining chip
NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith yesterday said that the union "could attempt to block" the NFL's effort to expand the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams as "part of its campaign against worker's compensation legislation in Louisiana that would affect" players, according to Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY. Texans Owner Bob McNair said of the NFLPA, "It's hard to get things done with them. But at some point, it should be, 'What can we do together to increase our revenues?' because the players will get more than half of that." Bell notes players would "receive 55% of revenues generated by the two extra playoff games." Considering that ESPN will pay $100M per year for "finally getting into the playoff loop, the additional revenue for two extra playoff games figures to be something north" of $200M per year. Meanwhile, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently "didn't seem worried about getting the union to sign off" on expanded playoffs. But it is "apparent that the union sees the playoff plan as a bargaining chip." Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy: "That's to be expected. But when you step back, this is good for players" (USA TODAY, 5/21). Goodell yesterday at the NFL meetings in Atlanta said that he "anticipates the league expanding the postseason field" from 12 to 14 in '15. He added that the "biggest reason why membership was reluctant to vote on playoff expansion this season" was the rollout of CBS' Thursday NFL package and "fear of oversaturation" (USA TODAY, 5/21). Goodell said of playoff expansion, "This is something that I’ve had numerous conversations with DeMaurice about. I just spoke to him about it two weeks ago. And I think there’s a lot of benefits to the players. That’s something they’ll have to evaluate. But they’re our partners and I’ve said on many occasions before we’re going to continue to have dialogue with all of our partners to make sure that it can be done the right way" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 5/20).

WHEN IS IT COMING?
ESPN's Adam Schefter said, "I don't think it's a 'if it's going to happen,' it's a 'when it's going to happen.' They just want to make sure that everything is in order. They have to make sure the NFLPA is signed off on this." He added, "If you expand the postseason, you can probably reduce the preseason and I think the two may go together" ("NFL Insiders," ESPN, 5/20). NFL Network’s Mark Kriegel said, “The NFL has held on as long as it can without watering down the product. If you look at the other sports, the sign posts are all there: More games, more teams, more exposure, more nights. At least with football you have a sense that each game does matter a lot” (“NFL AM,” NFL Network, 5/21)

NEW YORK STATE OF MINDS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Kevin Clark writes while "powerful owners" such as the Cowboys' Jerry Jones "remain in favor of adding more teams to the NFL postseason picture, one man stands firmly against it" in Giants President & CEO John Mara. Mara yesterday "strongly opposed the expansion," arguing more playoff teams will "dilute" the product. Mara: "I've always been against it." But Clark notes there still is "enough support among the league's 30 owners for the proposal to pass" in time for '15. However, Mara said that there are "logistical issues that need fixing." For instance, one proposal "features an extra game to be played on a Monday night, which would create a short week for one of the teams" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/21). In N.Y., Gary Myers writes the Giants and Jets "agree on nothing -- it’s astounding they were able to co-host Super Bowl XLVIII." So it was "totally in character" yesterday when Mara stood out against expanding the playoffs while Jets Owner Woody Johnson said that he "supports it." Johnson said, "It will make it more interesting for the fans. From the players I talk to, they think it’s a great idea for them." Johnson said the playoff system is "working really beautifully now," and added expanding is a "tweak, not a major change" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/21).

STUDY SESSION: In DC, Mark Maske reported the league is "appointing a committee to study the future" of the NFL Draft. Mara said, "One of the issues is where is it going to be next year. ... And there are a lot of factors that go into that, including Radio City’s availability and some other issues.” Maske noted reaction yesterday to the May date for the '14 Draft "was mixed." Mara: “If I were king of the world, I’d put it right back to where it was. But that’s probably not realistic. I certainly don’t think it ought to be on Mother’s Day weekend. But we’ll see.” He added, "I can’t argue with the numbers that the draft did this year. So I think there’s a good likelihood that it’s gonna move again. But when that is, I don’t know" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 5/20). Goodell said that he would "wait until the end of the month to hear from officials at Radio City Music Hall for the availability," and added that he has "not discussed the draft location" with N.Y. Mayor Bill de Blasio. Meanwhile, Johnson said that he "understands why the NFL might want to move the draft to another city," but he "carries a biased opinion." Johnson said of N.Y. as host, "There's a reason it's been there 50 years. I think it makes it a lot easier for a lot of the journalists, who are in New York. A lot of networks are in New York. It's pretty convenient." But he added, "It's not the end of the world if it moves. New York is the center of the universe, as far as I'm concerned. If it's in Chicago, that's not too bad. If it's in L.A., Dallas or wherever, that's fine, too" (ESPN.com, 5/20). SPORTS ON EARTH's Dan Pompei writes the Draft "used to be a way to build teams," but now has "become a way to build the NFL." The Draft "cannot stay the same," which is the "first thing we all need to understand." The "issue is not if it should change," but is "how much it should change" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 5/21). 
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