Goodell says playoff expansion to 14 teams possible this season
Seattle Times news services
ORLANDO, Fla. — There is a good chance the NFL will expand the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams, and the change could come as early as the upcoming season.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking Wednesday at the conclusion of the league’s annual meetings, said there was a “full discussion” on the topic among team owners and executives this week.
“I think there’s a tremendous amount of interest in this, possibly even to the point of support, but there are also things we still want to make sure we do it right,” Goodell said. “We’ve been very incremental in trying to do this, but we believe competitively it could make even our races toward the end of our season even more exciting with more teams vying for playoff positions, which is great for our fans. We still want to do some additional work, including talking with the players association.”
The NFL and the NFL Players Association will meet April 8, and Goodell said he anticipates playoff expansion being among the topics of discussion.
As for how soon a change could be implemented, he didn’t rule out it happening for the 2014 season.
“It’s not out of the question,” he said, “but we didn’t make that decision at all. We have more work to do. I wouldn’t rule it out, but I wouldn’t say that’s the direction we’re headed right now.”
Also on Wednesday, the owners:
• Approved experimentation with extra-point kicks from the 20-yard line for two weeks in the preseason, but implementing longer PATs for the regular season has been tabled.
• Adopted proposals to extend the length of the goalposts 5 feet, to 35 feet, to better determine if kicks are good; to no longer stop the clock on sacks; and to allow video reviews on plays with a recovery of a loose ball on the field even though the play had been whistled dead.
• Rejected proposals to move kickoffs to the 40-yard line; to allow more than one player to be placed on injured reserve, then return to the roster during the season; to subject personal-foul penalties to video review; to permit coaches to challenge any officiating decision except on scoring plays or turnovers, which automatically are reviewed; and to eliminate the first preseason cutdown to 75 players.
• The death this week of Ralph Wilson, founder and sole owner of the Buffalo Bills, was but half the heartache of the NFL franchise and its fans.
Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, who led the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s, found out two weeks ago that the oral cancer he was originally diagnosed with in June has returned. His wife, Jill, wrote on her blog that “the cancer’s back, aggressive, and starting to spread.”
The 54-year-old Kelly, an icon in western New York, is hospitalized in Manhattan, and has been visited by a steady stream of Bills teammates.
Jill Kelly had written on her Instagram that surgery on her husband was “tentatively scheduled for Thursday,” but those plans changed Wednesday.
Instead, Kelly will undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy.