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Volume 24 No. 112

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The NFL is "serious" about possibly expanding the playoffs to 14 or 16 teams in the coming years, but whether the idea "gets enough votes to pass remains to be seen,” according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. The league has been "looking for different revenue streams, and I can tell you that even during the lockout, there was some discussion. ... One level of revenue stream would be to expand the playoffs." None of the other major pro teams sports leagues have "bye weeks in their playoff format, so eliminating at least one of those by adding two more teams" would increase revenues. The league “eventually ... will get there,” and if the concept "gets momentum, it can happen" in time for the '14 season. Mortensen: "I’ve known executives who have been pushing it for awhile and really like the idea.” ESPN’s Trey Wingo sarcastically noted, “Because clearly the NFL doesn’t make enough money” ("NFL Live," ESPN, 12/13).

DEBATE CLUB: In DC, Mark Maske wrote opinion was “divided in the Redskins’ locker room Thursday” about Goodell’s comments. Redskins LB London Fletcher said of a 12-team field, “I think that’s a good number right now.” Redskins OT Trent Williams said, “Being in the playoffs can never be cheap, no matter what” (, 12/13). Vikings DE Jared Allen said, "That's a dumb idea. The reason our league is so much better than other leagues, I think, is because of that competition. Every game means something.” He added, “I think you damage the sport” (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 12/14). In Tampa, Gary Shelton writes, “You know what more playoffs would mean? They would mean the regular season would have less importance. They would mean the postseason would have more mediocrity. They would mean a greater health risk for the players.” He adds, “More isn't always better” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 12/14). ESPN’s Michael Smith said of the NFL expanding the playoffs, “More does not equal better.” ESPN’s Hugh Douglas said it would “water down the accomplishments of the elite teams in the NFL,” but it gives teams on the fringes of the playoffs “life” ("Numbers Never Lie," ESPN2, 12/13). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, "Other than just the money they would get, what would be good about this?” It “takes away any value of going 15-1 or 14-2” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 12/13). But in Detroit, Jeff Seidel writes, “Nothing has diluted the NFL. Not Sunday night games. Not Thursday night games. Not even playing games in other countries. The NFL is alive and well.” Seidel: “Heck, yeah, go to 16 teams. Don’t even mess around with 14. The more, the better” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/14). Meanwhile, ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, “This is the latest example of the NFL telling you that their safety concerns are kind of a crock and all they care about is the appearance of safety. Given an either/or choice between safety and money, they go with money” (“Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 12/13).

MESSAGE TO GOODELL: In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette writes under the header, “Roger Goodell’s NFL Power Play Gets Put On Ice.” Some will “foolishly hope” former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s ruling on the Saints bounty program is a “step toward Goodell checking his ego at the door in the future.” But “don't hold your breath.” For a commissioner who “insists player safety is his top priority, Goodell has a funny way of showing it” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 12/14). The AP’s Jim Litke wrote Goodell “should learn to tone it down.” The more he “stubbornly defends every one of his positions -- even the ones, as in Bountygate, where Goodell cherry-picked evidence and arrived at the wrong conclusion -- the less of an honest broker he becomes.” Litke: “Not to mention a bigger distraction. The more headlines Goodell grabs, the less there are for the games themselves, which is where a commissioner's focus should be directed.” He added, “Maybe a few weeks in the background and away from the bully pulpit would do Goodell's reputation a lot of good right now” (AP, 12/13).

A ROUGH FEW WEEKS: In DC, Deron Snyder writes, “Someone needs to give NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a hug. Or a shoulder to cry on.” Goodell in the last week has been “rocked by an unfavorable ruling in Bountygate, criticism of the league’s drunk driving policy and questions about players’ gun ownership.” In addition, litigation on concussions “and tweaks to player-safety rules are ongoing concerns.” Maybe that is why Goodell has “mentioned ideas like expanding the playoff field and eliminating kickoffs.” Snyder: “Talking about such things helps to deflect attention from the league’s mess. But it doesn’t decrease the stench. … Mistakes happen, but he’s acting like he didn’t make any, acting like nothing has changed and he’s still the great Oz” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 12/14). ESPN’s Tony Reali said of Goodell announcing the expanded playoff format, “Some classic Goodell misdirection after Bountygate” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 12/13).