Posted January 08, 2014

Roger Goodell talks playoff expansion and the end of cold-weather Super Bowls

NFL Playoffs, Super Bowl XLVIII
(Andrew Nelles/AP)

Roger Goodell understands what really drives the NFL. (Andrew Nelles/AP)

The NFL has many sayings, credos and mottos, but the one that drives the engine is simple: follow the money. And that’s why the 32 team owners and commissioner Roger Goodell will do whatever they possibly can to stock more games in the schedule, no matter if it waters down the overall product or affects the league’s avowed commitment to player safety. Goodell has been pushing for an 18-game schedule since before the signing of the last collective bargaining agreement in 2011, and the players and the NFLPA have pushed back at every turn.

So now, Goodell and the owners are trying a different tack, one that might be more attractive to NFL fans — the idea of expanding the playoffs with two more teams in each conference.

“That is under serious consideration,” Goodell said in a Tuesday interview at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. “One of the great things about the NFL other than it’s unscripted is that every team starts the season with hope.”

Well, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones certainly thinks so. His team has finished each of the last three seasons at 8-8 and hasn’t made a postseason since 2009, so that’s a lot of residual embarrassment and missed ancillary income.

“From the standpoint of looking at how exciting it is for a city or a community to be involved in the playoffs and the fact that you can have a team that might have literally operated at .500 or in that area … you can have that team win the Super Bowl,” Jones said last Friday on Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan. “That makes a big case for adding a couple of more cities or communities that have NFL teams to the playoffs.”

Goodell mentioned that 13 of 16 games had playoff implications in the final week of the regular season, which was partially the result of the league’s wise decision to point the last few weeks of every season’s schedule in a more divisional direction. The next step, he said, will be to keep that competition compelling, even if more teams would wrap up playoff berths and first-round byes earlier.

“It’s something that the competition committee looked at last year and thinks there are some real benefits from a competitive standpoint. They’re going to study some aspects of that because when would those games occur and one team would get a bye in each conference and you’d have six games on the weekend. So would you have three on Saturday, and three on Sunday? Or do you get one on Friday and two on Saturday and two on Sunday and one on Monday? I think those are the kinds of things we want to evaluate.”

On the other hand, the same man that has more influence on the owners than he might like to let on was ambivalent about improving the current playoff system, in which the Arizona Cardinals can miss the postseason at 10-6 because they play in the brutal NFC West, while the 8-7-1 Green Bay Packers can get a home playoff game against a 12-4 San Francisco 49ers team that has beaten them three times in the last year.

“I don’t see the owners pushing for a big change on that, and that ultimately is where it has to come from,” the Commish said.

As to the idea of another outdoor Super Bowl in cold-weather environs as there will be next month at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, Goodell sounded less than optimistic about the matter.

“I think this is obviously innovative and it’s something new, but it’s also unique because it’s New York. This is a stage, we have two teams here. Every city can’t host a Super Bowl just because of the sheer enormity of this event. And it’s not just a football game. We have a week full of events, we probably have well over 150,000 [people] coming in to the New York region for this event.

“Will we look at other Super Bowls in cold-weather sites? I think we’ll wait and make that evaluation later.”

As always, the league will follow the money. And if a cold-weather city manages to bankroll a new billion-dollar stadium, you can bet that Goodell will change his tune on that matter.

108 comments
baruchatta
baruchatta

The NFL wants an 18 game season.  But, it's a very valid issue today about injuries. The play today is rougher, the men larger, the game more physical. 

Therefore here is a deal. 
1. There will be 18 games per season. 
2. However, there will be a by week between each game. Each team will play every other week instead of every week. Players will have two weeks to rest and recover. 
3. There will be two leagues, the red league and the blue league. Red will play week A, blue will play week B, and so on. Every 6 games, the red and blue will be redistributed, so each team will play each other team. 
4. So the season will last 36 weeks. 
5. So there will be a Monday night, Thursday night, Sunday night game for 36 weeks, not just 18. Win win for the owners and TV. Weekend games for 36 weeks too. Win win for the owners and TV. Fans get to see much more football over a longer season. 
6. I love it!

Anaximenes1
Anaximenes1

NY's billionaire owners will demand more super bowls so they can cash in big with even more money!!!  Hose the fans, owners get richer!!!!

MikeAllen
MikeAllen

Goodell doesnt give a rat's patootie about the fans, no matter what he says.  And, this year's Super Bowl in the northeast is a payoff to his New York cronies.  I, personally, hope that the game is postponed because of a huge, major blizzard on Super Bowl Sunday.  I  would then hope that the owners kick the scumbag out on his arse.

DaM
DaM

In the current playoff format of 6 teams per conference it works out that 37.5% of the league makes the postseason.  Adding 2/conference raises that to 50% of the league.  So Sir Roger is saying that you will no longer have to really be in a "top" echelon for playoffs, only be in the top half of the league?  This man is going to be the death of a great league.

Don12
Don12

Goodell needs to be removed from the commissioner's office. If they want to add two gamess the reduce preseason.  Also, NFL Europe folded for a reason. It could not maintain a viable franchise for more than 2 or 3 years so why put the players and their families in such a precarious situation?

Aguilas
Aguilas

Ridiculous idea!  Why mess up a good thing!? This NFL cartel only cares about money!!!  Expanding the NFL Playoffs cheapens the playoff experience.  They should change the Playoff seeding though.  Teams with a better record shouldn't be a lower seed even if the other team won the division.

swh114
swh114

This continued push for more games is ridiculous. 16 games is too many, 18 is ridiculous. If they expand the playoffs they may as well get rid of the regular season and just let everyone in the playoffs. Watering the playoffs down almost guarantees some mediocrity (8-8, 7-9 team) will be a part every year. Anyone in the NFL can beat anyone on 'Any Given Sunday'. If the NFL has any interest in crowning the best champion on an annual basis this is a mistake. Teams should be rewarded for being good throughout a grueling 16 game regular season. Average teams who get hot at the end of the season and sneak in should not.


If Goodell wants more money..err, I mean games, it is pretty simple. Add two more bye weeks for each team which will create 19 weeks of games for TV contracts. It will have the added benefit of giving players a break and a chance to heal during the season and result in a better on-field product.

daddyratty
daddyratty

It's NOT NEW YORK!  It's being played in New Jersey.  Since when is New Jersey part of New York?  And why does the NFL pretend this is the case?

Samuel3
Samuel3

For the love of the game, there should be a SB in Green Bay.  This is a team that doesn't have an owner (it is actually owned by the city itself, ie the residents), has tremendous history, has played in the same place since inception, and though they've improved the stadium the team didn't sell out.  Many venues are really feeling less and less like football.  Not Lambeau though.  I bet they could make it work financially as well, even though it is a small town.

chris92021
chris92021

This is why I pity Goodell. Unlike Rozelle and even Tagliabue, Goodell has no backbone. Jerry Jones is the real commish of the NFL. He's the one who's been pushing for expanded playoffs, 18 game seasons, and keeping the blackout rule intact. Goodell is just not man enough to tell Jerry Jones no. 

tom.aikins
tom.aikins

The only one of Jerry's teams makes the playoffs is if they add more teams so of course he's for it.

tjleafe
tjleafe

Completely going in the wrong direction.  The playoffs have been diluted enough.  If you want to get in , WIN YOUR DIVISION!  If you can't do that, you're not good enough.  If Jerry Jones wants to be included he can start by firing himself and hiring a strong football guy then leaving him alone to PROPERLY build the team

nortran11
nortran11

Let's figure out a way to increase profits for our owners.....I know! Let's expand the league and put a team in Mexico and London...and....hmmmm....EVERYONE GETS INTO THE PLAYOFFS! Goodell is such a tool.

danieljludwig1
danieljludwig1

What a completely horrible idea. This idiot doesn't realize that the reason that the last 2 weeks of the season were so exciting is BECAUSE many of those fighting teams were NOT going to make the playoffs. How can he not see that???? 

fmfrijoles
fmfrijoles

After reading the WSJ analysis of what teams would have made the 7th seed the last 20+ years.......i have thought about the addition of another wild card team to each conference.


As no team with a losing record would have qualified according to the article......I am more prone to accept it. As there is money to be made.......this is probably already a done deal. It would be interesting to have a Friday Night game in January as there is no conflict with other sports or college football and its usually cold and you are at home anyway.

Montana410
Montana410

The current setup is really perfect. The last week of the regular season was exciting for NFL fans. The playoffs have great matchups. It is perfect the way it is....Dont mess with perfection or you (NFL) could regret it. 


I heard some radio talk shows today stating things like, you know you will all watch the NFL if they expand the playoffs and play every night of the week. Probably not.  I never have liked the Thursday night games when my team plays. Many NFL fans have to get up early and work, and Thursday night games are a bit much. Monday night is one thing, then Sunday night and now Thursday night. And I suppose there will be Wed night football soon. 

bobinpowell
bobinpowell

Yes, of course, there's an explanation.  More money, more money...

beast
beast

These guys need to learn from Nascar: Don't f**k with success or you might regret it! 

The NFL is already going through major changes. Creating more changes risks losing the feeling of tradition which is what Nascar did. 

And we do not need more playoff teams so terrible teams can get in the playoffs. 


Fifilo
Fifilo

Million$ of benefit$

2001mark
2001mark

While the player bye weeks is interesting, I've always liked my own 18 week plan myself: 2 bye weeks for each team.


NFL is essentially tv driven league now, the league could easily expand to 18 weeks by giving each team another bye.  That add$ televi$ion date$ for the owner$ without imposing more demands on players.


The only other option that would be acceptable because that idea probably will never happen is expanding rosters.  Including a possible added 1-2 draft rounds to allow more youth who could develop while playing select minutes.


I know ppl hate the preseason but with injuries, that's the only game time for rosters to plug in subs for game action.  Look at the '13 Patriots, they'd be doa having to plug all those untested players during the season.  NFL should though axe the regular season pricing for tickets- after all, they want their buildings filled in August.

Joe R2
Joe R2

I nominate Dana White for the next NFL commish

parkbrav
parkbrav

IMO the 16 game season (with one bye) is a thing of beauty. 6 division games. 4 intra-conference games. 4 extra conference games. 2 "wild card" games that are match-ups. One bye. perfection. No need to tinker with it

parkbrav
parkbrav

I guess the morale of this article is that things happen in the NFL only when the Cowboys start whining.

parkbrav
parkbrav

I don't think I care WHERE the Super Bowl is, I just care WHEN the Super Bowl is on. I would LOVE a Super Bowl on a Saturday so that I can watch it and sleep in the next day without missing work

parkbrav
parkbrav

Would nixing "cold weather" Super Bowls mean nixing a Super Bowl in, let's say, Charlotte? I hope Charlotte gets a Super Bowl.


Also, does the NFL plan to continue using Roman numerals for every Super Bowl, and when is that going to end?

swh114
swh114

Right, It's being played at the home stadium of the New Jersey Giants and Jets....Oh wait...


davetheG
davetheG

@Samuel3It would be great!!!! Soldier field would be a good choice as well. I am tired of SB always in domes and sanitized conditions. Conference championships are not always indoors so why should the SB be that way. I remember when stadiums used to be named for people associated with the team (Lambeau, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium) now they are named after companies. Buffalo reversed the trend and Rich Stadium became  Ralph Wilson Stadium) A great deal of football history in GB. Superbowl there would rock!!!

DaM
DaM

@chris92021 Yeah, Jerry would probably also push for an expanded playoff system.  Only way the Cowboys will ever make it when he (Jones) is calling all the shots and not leaving the football up to coaches that understand "The Game" far better than he ever will.

davetheG
davetheG

@tom.aikins um, even if they added a team to the playoff picture Cowgirls still wouldn't have gotten in. 

Heath_JS
Heath_JS

Ok so you should have to win the division or you're not good enough. So the 49ers aren't good enough? Yet the packers are simply based on geography? Yeah that makes perfect sense. You should absolutly run the league.

davetheG
davetheG

@tjleafeThank you. Win to get in. I hate Goodell. He doesnt do what is good for the game, he only wants to increase revenue. Focus on doing what is best for the game, money will follow. He will screw this league up....

tom.aikins
tom.aikins

@nortran11 Goodell is more than a tool, although I don't know exactly what that might be but just think of tool to some sort of nth degree.

davetheG
davetheG

@danieljludwig1I would rather have a good team out then a bad team in the playoffs. Sure, the Cards would have made it in, but on the AFC side the 8-8 Steelers would have made it in. Leave mediocrity for college bowl games. It is not common that 10+ win teams do not make the playoffs so do not change the game to appease the exception.

davetheG
davetheG

@fmfrijoles How many 8-8 teams would have made it in? NFL is 32 teams and you do not want to get too close to where half the league goes to the playoffs. Friday night games, bleh---i like football because less is more. I hate thursday games. I like you have sunday, one day a week, and monday nights. that is it. if you want sports on several nights a week watch baseball or NBA.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@bobinpowellGreat deduction.  Funny how those evil businesses are always looking to increase profits.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@beastDo you mean terrible teams like the 10-6 Cardinals this year and the 10-6 Bears last year?

davetheG
davetheG

@2001mark Most hate pre-season because ticket prices too darn high for those games and season ticket holders still have to buy the tickets.

pval
pval

@parkbrav 

+1 , Right now the balance is perfect. And expansion teams would mean some divisions would have more teams in them than others which would create a fundamental imbalance.

 

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@parkbravAnd then things really get ramped up when you start whining about the Cowboys.

davetheG
davetheG

@parkbrav Maybe they use the Roman numerals because no one told the NFL the empire fell......

parkbrav
parkbrav

I re-read this article and Goodell doesn't actually say "end cold weather Super Bowls," it just says "wait and see."

daddyratty
daddyratty

@swh114 This just perpetuates the geographic idiocy.  The Giants and Jets don't play in New York.  At least the NBA's Nets had the sense to move to a borough before changing their name.

danieljludwig1
danieljludwig1

@davetheG @danieljludwig1 I know. That's what I said. I don't want to expand either. The Patriots shouldn't have to play some 7th seed, even if they are more likely to win. That 7th seed would win 1 out of 4 or 5 times and even that is too much. I'm a Steelers fan and I'm against that happening. Of course that is irnoring the FACT (100% SOLID FACT) that the Steelers actually DID make the playoffs this year as the 6 seed. That is undeniable (unless fumbles no longer count in the NFL).

davetheG
davetheG

@JoeCabot@beastDo not forget the 8-8 Steelers would have made in on the AFC side. Do not cater to only one side. I would rather have a 10-6 team not make it than 8-8 teams making it. Teams do not like it, then win more games. Easy.

pval
pval

@JoeCabot@beast  

Yeah, sure, and for every occasional 10-6 team, how many 9-7 or 8-8 average team with no real chance at contending are we going to get ? 

Right now the format eliminate a little less than of two third of the team in the regular season (12/32). 

That is why a play off spot is such a significant achievement.


If you really rue the fact that some good teams are left aside in the current format the obvious change would be to stop affording a playoff spot to divisional winners, but go strictly by winning records. But that would render divisional rivalry pretty much meaningless....

SkinsfanLA
SkinsfanLA

The only way expansion works is by adding 4 teams. 2 to the AFC and 2 to the NFC. You the. Go back to the three division setup of east, central and west with 6 teams in each division.

The schedule must then be expanded to 18 games. You play your division twice (10 games) you play another division that rotates through the entire NFL every 5 years (16 games) and you play the two other teams from your conference that placed with you, the way it's done now (18 games). Each team gets two byes making the season 20 weeks.

The playoffs then become the three division winners and three wild cards for each conference. You do NOT need to add anymore teams to the playoffs. They can stay the same.

fmfrijoles
fmfrijoles

@parkbravI think every city should be able to host a super bowl. As most stadiums are now publicly funded it totally makes sense to give something back to them.

davetheG
davetheG

@SkinsfanLA The only problem is that NFL would have to add teams because 6x3=18 and how many cities can truly support a NFL team? I know people in LA and they could care less about football. Jerome Bettis even said LA is not a NFL town, too many other things there and people will not buy tickets to a mediocre team when you have the beach, mountains, hollywood, and all the stuff there to do. So where do you add 4 teams? Mexico? With the drug wars there I dont see that. Canada? It would destroy the CFL and that could cause some animosity So where would you add 4 teams.......

davetheG
davetheG

@fmfrijoles@parkbrav I think the team with the best record should host the SuperBowl unless the returning champion is going back to the Bowl then they host because they are the Champs. This would give an incentive to teams to have the best record. If they get booted out of the playoffs then they can watch the game in the stands with the crowd. This would give more cities and stadiums a chance to host and it would spread the wealth to other communities.

EasyGoer
EasyGoer

@fmfrijoles @parkbrav I agree but those wolf in sheep's clothing only worry about how many more greenbacks they can stuff into that Brinks truck.