NFL Issues Statement on Reported Expansion of Wild Card Round

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NFL Issues Statement on Reported Expansion of Wild Card Round
Getty Images/Jamie MacDonald

Updates from Wednesday, Jan. 8

Kevin Patra of NFL.com provides a statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell discussing playoff expansion:

"That is under serious consideration," he said. "We think it's one of the great things about the NFL, besides the fact that it's unscripted. Every team and their fans start the season with hope. You mentioned the fact that for 11 straight years we've had a team go from last to first, that's unique to professional football and the NFL, that doesn't happen in other sports. And that's because we have such a competitive league and we want to keep that."

[...]

"The races we had this past season, we had 16 games every weekend, the final weekend we have division games, so your opponent is a division opponent and 13 of those 16 games had playoff implications on the final day of the season," Goodell continued. "That's extraordinary and we want to keep that. If we could increase that, and again this is about believing in better, can you make it better, can you make those (division) races better by adding two more teams? That's compelling and that's what we're looking at." 

Patra also provided an additional statement from Goodell discussing the potential of postseason reseeding:

"I don't think there is momentum for that," Goodell told former Associated Press White House correspondent Ben Feller in an interview at the 92nd St. Y. "I would probably disagree. There may be momentum in the media, that happens when you see San Francisco going to Green Bay, but one of the premises we start with every season is that your first objective is to win the division. And when you win the division, you should have a home game."

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The National Football League is reportedly considering expanding the Wild Card format by adding one team from each conference, and its current stance on the matter was revealed on Monday, Jan. 6. 

Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch took to Twitter to provide a portion of an email sent by a league spokesperson, who denied a decision had been reached to expand the current playoff format:

There been no such decision. It would require a vote of the clubs and it has not yet been taken up with them. If it’s taken up this year, it would happen at the annual meeting in March. The agenda for the meeting has not been formulated.

Andrew Perloff of The Dan Patrick Show reports that his host has heard that the NFL will indeed add a wild-card team to both conferences:

CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora weighed in on Patrick's report:

League commissioner Roger Goodell at least hinted at the possibility of playoff expansion beginning in 2015 during this past season's league meeting in the fall in Washington, D.C., per NFL.com's Chris Wesseling on Oct. 8:

If expanding the postseason would allow other teams to get into the dance, and they have the potential of going on and winning the Super Bowl, that's a good thing for fans, that a good thing competitively.

With regard to the email courtesy of Deitsch, it would be interesting to see how franchises would vote on this issue.

While adding the number of teams to the postseason would at least give some a puncher's chance at achieving Super Bowl glory, the move could also water down the NFL brand.

Parity continues to be a prominent theme, but placing 14 of 32 teams in the playoffs would push that even further, perhaps to a fault.

Should the NFL expand its Wild Card format?

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This season in particular would have been rather exciting under the new provisions, though. The Arizona Cardinals would have qualified in the NFC with a 10-6 record, while the Pittsburgh Steelers would have overcame a 0-4 start to get in as the No. 7 seed in the AFC.

What is certain is that professional football is booming as much as ever, and fans aren't likely to complain too much if they're able to see more action on the gridiron—especially if their teams have a better chance of reaching the playoffs.

The most recent Wild Card Weekend action was abundant in entertainment, which should help the expansion advocates' campaign.

What's more importantly to consider, though, is the impact more football will have on player safety and whether those actually taking the field in these prospective extra games will have a true say in the vote.

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