During the dark days of the collective bargaining agreement negotiations, when Roger Goodell and NFL owners seemed hellbent on shoving 18 regular-season games down our throat, part of the reason the league retreated was it knew the football public wasn't behind it.
Oh, it kept trotting Goodell out to say things like he did to ESPN Radio in New York (via Sports Radio Interviews):
Well, I appreciate the enthusiasm for it and I hear it from the fans consistently. People want more football. I think they want less preseason and more regular season and that’s the concept we are talking about here.
Of course fans want fewer preseason games, but most didn't (and don't) want two extra regular-season games. TheMMQB's Peter King conducted an informal Twitter poll at the time that seemed to reinforce what many suspected—less than one out of every five football fans wanted what Goodell claimed they wanted. And 82 percent wanted 16 regular-season games. Period.
Fast forward to today, and Goodell and the owners are sitting pretty after pantsing the NFLPA in the CBA. (OK, that's not entirely fair. The best De Smith could do was play defense and hold on to as much as he could...but still. The league completely won the last round.)
Goodell is earning absurd amounts of money, which you know means the owners are making obscene amounts of money.
But you know what the owners need? That's right. More money.
Because that's exactly what expanding the playoffs would give them and that's exactly what the league is considering, per the Washington Post's Mark Maske. Owners could vote on expanding to an additional two teams as soon as the owners meetings next month. (The actual expansion of the playoffs wouldn't happen until 2015.)
Predictably, this development was met with derision on Twitter (what isn't these days?), and I'll tell you what—I understand a lot of the pushback the NFL gets. I do. Some things the league does are completely worthy of scorn.
But not this.
Let me break this down for you in the most simplistic way possible.
Everybody wins if this happens.
The owners make more money.
The players make more money.
Goodell makes more money.
And fans get two extra do-or-die, win-or-go-home, oh-my-gosh-football-is-the-best playoff games in January.
Yes, letting 14 teams in a 32-team league into the postseason feels a bit too much like "everybody gets an ice cream!" on the surface. And yes, the specter of some not-so-great teams being on display definitely looms.
But what about deserving teams that spend the second half of the season getting hot, playing well and barely missing the playoffs? Teams like last year's Arizona Cardinals would be a welcome addition. I mean, the Cardinals were the proverbial "Team No One Wants To Play," and they didn't even make it to the dance this year.
No, two more playoff games is a win for everyone, and the best part? It should help stave off, if not downright kill, talk of an 18-game regular season.
Potentially screwing around with the extra point, London games, quarterbacks in bubble wrap—there's a lot of things the NFL deserves to catch hell for. Expanding the playoffs isn't one of them.
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