NFL League Notes: Will Postseason Be Expanded More Due To Fans' Interest Or Money?
ESPN THE MAGAZINE's Howard Bryant writes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell with his recent proposal to add two wild-card teams to the playoffs is "emptying the tank of a financially soaring -- but morally suspect -- enterprise." Although Goodell "sells the appearance of responsibility and has taken some credible actions to address the head-injury crisis, the overriding consideration then, as now, is money. Of course it is." The job of the commissioner is "to increase the value of franchises for the owners, and in this, there is no doubting his efficacy." Bryant: "Maybe the extra playoff games, in the name of fan interest, are simply attractive cover for the real motive: to recoup the $765 million the NFL agreed to pay players in the concussion lawsuit settlement, a number the judge on the case preliminarily rejected for being too low" (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 2/3 issue).
FEEL THE DRAFT: The AP's Oskar Garcia wrote the rivalry between Pro Football HOFers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, who are drafting the teams for the Pro Bowl, is "just one of several moves the NFL is using to try to rekindle interest" in the event, which takes place on Sunday. The game has been "criticized as too lax in recent years by fans and even" Goodell, "putting the future of the game in question." The "biggest change," the two-day draft concluding today, "responds by targeting player egos and fan love for fantasy football." Rice and Sanders were not "too specific about how they'll make their picks" (AP, 1/20). In San Diego, John Maffei asked of the draft, "Will it make a difference? ... Probably not, but really, can it get any worse than the two-hand touch, powder-puff game the Pro Bowl has turned into the past few years? It's worth the risk to change things up a bit" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/21).
DOWN ON THE FARM: In Jacksonville, Vito Stellino wrote the record number of underclassmen entering the NFL draft is "another sign" that the league "needs to start a minor league to develop players." The total number of players entering the draft this year is 102, "including four who have graduated, and not all of them will be drafted." If the NFL "had a minor league the way baseball does, the players who don’t want to go to college can sign up for the minor league and develop until they are ready for a shot at the NFL." But the NFL "doesn’t want to spend the money on a farm system when the colleges give them a free one" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 1/21).