Redskins divided about expanding NFL playoff field

December 13, 2012

Roger Goodell says the NFL’s leaders will consider increasing the number of teams in the playoffs (Nam Y. Huh/The Associated Press)

Opinion was divided in the Redskins’ locker room Thursday about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s suggestion that the league’s playoff field could be expanded from 12 teams to 14 or 16 in the future.

Veteran linebacker London Fletcher said the current arrangement of six teams per conference qualifying for the postseason doesn’t need to be changed.

“Sometimes that can dilute, I guess, the special-ness, the specialty of making it to the playoffs,” Fletcher said. “You work so hard to get into position to make the playoffs. Now they’re talking about adding more teams. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I don’t know. I kind of like the way it is right now…. I think that’s a good number right now.”

But left tackle Trent Williams said he doesn’t think an expanded postseason field would cheapen the accomplishment of reaching the playoffs.

“Being in the playoffs can never be cheap, no matter what,” Williams said. “It’s still 32 teams in the league and everyone wants to be in the playoffs at the beginning of the season. You know once you get in the playoffs, past schedules and records don’t really matter. It’s a one-game season and whoever is playing good at that time has a chance to bring home the ring.”

Williams was asked about ridicule for sports such as hockey, which allow more teams to reach the postseason.

“I don’t know how you can make fun of them,” Williams said. “I really don’t watch hockey.”

Goodell said at the conclusion of a one-day owners’ meeting Wednesday in the Dallas area that the sport’s leaders would discuss the possibility of expanding the playoff field in the future.

Similar proposals have failed to gain much support in recent years.

Williams said he hopes the point is moot for the Redskins in future seasons.

“I’m hoping that we’re in the top two, three teams every year,” he said. “Hopefully we never even have to worry about those last couple spots.”

For now, the Redskins are pleased to have worked themselves back into playoff contention this season under the current 12-team format.

“This is what you work for,” Fletcher said. “This is what you train for all offseason, work as hard as you work, practice as hard as you practice. You want to put yourself in position in December to be playing meaningful games. And right now, that’s what we’ve done.”

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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Mike Jones · December 13, 2012