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Volume 24 No. 158

Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last night said he would "be surprised" if expanding the playoffs happens in time for the '14 season. Goodell, appearing on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access," said, "If it happened, it probably wouldn't happen before '15." Goodell noted a vote to expand the postseason could occur this year for the '15 season, and the "big discussion would be the first weekend, the wild-card weekend of playoffs." Goodell: "How would you structure that? Three on Saturday, three on Sunday? We're looking at every alternative, and I think that's what the membership ultimately is going to have to decide. Could you play a game on Friday night, two on Saturday, two on Sunday and another one on Monday? You want to balance all that with the competitive issues that come with that. Is that a smart thing for us to do? Those are the things that we're going to be studying." He said the "competitiveness is the most important issue and the safety issues," but noted the league's broadcast partners also play a role ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 1/20).'s John Breech noted playoff expansion under the format Goodell discussed would "mean playing six games on Wild Card Weekend, up from four." The two-seed would "play the seven-seed, the three-seed would play the six-seed and the four-seed would play the five-seed in each conference" (, 1/20).

GIVING IT THE BOOT? NFL Network's Rich Eisen in his conversation with Goodell noted there are "rumblings about an extra point potentially going away." Goodell said one of the "issues that has happened is the extra point is almost automatic." Goodell: "I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200-some-odd. So it's a very small fraction of the play and you want to add excitement with every play." He noted the league is going through various proposals, some of which are "still going through the process of creativity." However, he detailed one proposal that stuck with him. Goodell: "It's automatic that you get seven points when you score a touchdown. You could you could potentially go for an 8th point either by running or passing the ball, but if you fail, you go back to 6." Goodell was unsure whether that scenario would be adopted because "we often get a lot of ideas that are thrown out and the committee will look at all of them and decide what is worthy of further consideration" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 1/20).

SOMETHING TO CONSIDER: SPORTING NEWS' Tadd Haislop wrote eliminating the extra point is an "intriguing concept and, unless you're concerned about the preservation of football as we know it, one that makes a reasonable amount of sense." Goodell and the NFL "seem to have two factors in mind behind the proposal: entertainment and safety" (, 1/20). YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee noted other possibilities not mentioned "could be keeping the extra point but moving the kicking spot farther back, or offering more point values for farther-distance kicks, but that's starting to get into circus-game territory" (, 1/20). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio writes there is "another benefit to dumping the extra point," as the ensuing TV timeout would "give the replay official a little extra time to determine whether a full review of the touchdown is needed" (, 1/21). NFL Network's Terrell Davis said, "It is a boring play, let’s be honest. It really is automatic." But he added, "I don’t know about if you score a touchdown its seven points, then you have the option of going for two points and if you don’t make it you get deducted a point. That, to me, is just crazy. That doesn’t seem like the NFL” ("NFL AM," NFL Network, 1/21). ESPN's Mike Greenberg: “I’m all for making change but this is just getting silly.” ESPN's Mike Golic: “I don’t want to change it that much" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 1/21).

There will come a day when the WTA "needs new stars" after Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have retired, and with her run to the Australian Open semifinals, Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard is "poised to make her case," according to Courtney Nguyen of Bouchard is just a "year and a half into becoming a full-time WTA pro," and what is "most intriguing ... is her no-nonsense demeanor." The "same can be said about her off-court personality," as she is there to "get a job done and that’s her only goal." She has a "singular focus, and that keeps things easy." Bouchard may not have the "charisma" of Sloane Stephens, the "precocious wit" of Laura Robson or the "disarming charm" of Madison Keys, three peers that are a similar age as Bouchard. But that "might be precisely why she wins." Bouchard's marketing potential is "undeniable and her off-season was already spent doing a pretty major media blitz around Canada." Tennis is "still making its way into the public consciousness of the hockey-obsessed nation, but between Bouchard and Milos Raonic, they’re well on their way" (, 1/21). In Australia, Margie McDonald notes Bouchard will "be in the top 20 by next week," and sponsors "will come running" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/22). The AFP's Talek Harris writes Bouchard's "looks and poise will have sponsors queuing for her signature" (AFP, 1/21).

WHOA, CANADA: REUTERS' Simon Cambers notes Bouchard's victory today made her the "first Canadian into the last four at any grand slam" since Carling Bassett at the '84 U.S. Open. With her "looks and a game that is improving all the time, Bouchard is a sponsor's dream, even if she plays a pretty straight bat to any questions slightly off-message." Bouchard realizes that "coming from a country where ice hockey is the most popular sport, she is facing an uphill battle to bring tennis to the masses." If she "beats Li Na to reach the final in Melbourne, however, things may change just a little." Bouchard: "Hopefully they'll care a little bit more about tennis now. It's definitely not the most popular sport there but I think it's growing, I think it's getting better. I'm just trying to do the best I can for myself, for the country as well" (REUTERS, 1/21). ESPN's Cliff Drysdale noted Bouchard has helped create an "explosion of interest in Canada in this game." Drysdale: "Birth of a superstar.” ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez said, “Bouchard has become the darling of the WTA Tour” ("Australian Open," ESPN2, 1/20).