NFL Considering Tweaks To Draft Process; Teams Prefer Usual April Date
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday suggested that the league's draft process "might be adjusted again," with the league to consider stretching the event from three days to four, according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com. The draft would retain a seven-round format "regardless of the change." Goodell is "unsure whether the draft will remain in May or go back to April," as the league is "considering several options for the draft's date and venue" (NFL.com, 4/25). In Charlotte, Joseph Person cited team officials as saying that they "don't like the extra two weeks and the over-thinking that accompanies" this year's May draft compared to its usual April date. However, Goodell "loves the idea of stretching out the league year to the point where there are no lulls on NFL Network" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/27). In Boston, Ben Volin wrote the six weeks of downtime between the NFL's March owners' meetings and May's draft is "proving to be tedious not only for fans but also for the teams, players, and agents who are eager to get this thing going already." NFL.com's Gil Brandt said, "I think if you asked 32 teams, about 30 of them would say, ‘Let’s go back to the old way’" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/27). In K.C., Sam Mellinger writes the NFL "wants to control every spare thought and (especially) dollar that sports fans have" and cannot run a $10B industry on a stated journey toward $25B "without turning up the crazy." Mellinger: "This is all gaining momentum. The NFL is only getting started" (K.C. STAR, 4/26).
PLAYOFF EXPANSION: Goodell said of a proposal to expand the league's playoffs, "We have 12 teams out of 32 that make our playoffs now. This would only take us up to 14. The competitiveness of our league, that's the difference to me. It's not just adding two more teams that didn't have a chance to proceed in the playoffs. That wouldn't be something that we're interested in. I think what we're seeing now is such a competitive league that a team that got in on the 13th or 14th spot has a chance to win it all." Goodell, on whether there is support for the proposal: "What we're doing now is talking to partners, our networks and our players, and making sure that, when we do it, we do it right" (ESPN.com, 4/25). USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell noted Goodell during the NFL fall meetings in DC indicated the '15 season "was the earliest that an expanded playoff package could be implemented." However, Goodell is now "trumpeting faster action, sounding so game for this to be implemented" in '14. When Goodell "gets 'excited' about an issue, it usually gets pushed through by owners who have demonstrated such tremendous faith his leadership" that last year they paid him more than $43M in salary and bonuses. Bell: "Why rush this through now? See dollar signs" (USATODAY.com, 4/27).
TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? Goodell said of criticism that the NFL is saturating the TV market with Thursday night games, "We're sensitive to that. We've been very calculated and careful in the way we manage our content. Thursday nights started with 6-8 games, then extended to 13, and now we'll be playing 16 games. This has all been responding to the fans. Football season is really four months. It's pretty focused. We normally play 16 games on a weekend. Thursday night is a platform for us. We're confident … this will be an extraordinary hit. We're comfortable we're not saturating the market" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 4/26).