The League

Mark Maske
Staff Writer

Mark Maske

Writes the NFL News Feed blog

Let It Be Goodell

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Lengthening the regular season is fine.

Don't mess with the playoffs.

I was at the NFL owners' meetings in St. Petersburg, Fla., this week at which the owners discussed the possibilities of extending the regular season to 17 or 18 games, up from 16, within the next few years, and adding teams to the playoffs.

Making the regular season longer clearly is going to happen. The owners are looking for a means to boost revenues in the next set of negotiations for the NFL's national television contracts, and having more games that count means more money in TV rights fees. If you don't like it, don't even bother to say so. There's no stopping it. The only question is whether the season will be 17 games long or 18. The change will come as part of the next labor deal with the players' union.

The argument for putting more teams into the playoffs is that with a longer regular season, there would be greater potential to have more games at the end of a season without playoff ramifications. Such games are boring duds and the league would like to eliminate as many of them as possible. One way perhaps would be to expand the postseason field from six teams in each conference to seven or eight. More playoff slots means more postseason opportunities for teams at the end of the regular season, and fewer meaningless games. Seven playoff teams in a conference means one gets a bye; eight playoff teams in a conference means no byes.

But the problem is that letting more than 12 of the 32 teams into the playoffs dilutes the postseason product, and the owners and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seem to understand that. Goodell said Wednesday: "I think it should be very special to make the postseason."

Goodell stopped short of saying he opposed any proposal to expand the postseason field, but clearly he recognizes the problem. Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney said: "It was brought up. I am totally against that. We have enough games now in the playoffs. You start fooling around with the playoffs, and it makes you extend it and you get yourself into playing in January in Pittsburgh."

Other proposals in past years to expand the playoffs haven't gotten very far. Even Wednesday's discussion among the owners on the subject wasn't very extensive. "It was mentioned," Rooney said. "Maybe one person said yes. Maybe two people said no, including us."

If the owners are smart, they won't talk about it seriously any more.

By Mark Maske  |  October 16, 2008; 10:54 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I am always conflicted, I would like to see the first round of the playoffs determine the conference champ. But that would eliminate the cool nature of the wild card.

Posted by: Alex35332 | October 16, 2008 11:28 AM

I am not in favor of adding teams to the post season. But, if they did extend the season AND add more teams to the playoff mix, it would give the owners the 'spring' game being discussed. It is called the Super Bowl. I hope they leave the playoff format alone.

Posted by: delOH | October 17, 2008 6:58 AM

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