Unclear if expanded NFL playoff field has enough support from owners

Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners are expected to consider expanding the NFL playoffs from 12 to 14 teams (Associated Press)

Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners are expected to consider expanding the NFL playoffs from 12 to 14 teams (Associated Press)

It is not yet clear whether a proposal to expand the NFL playoff field from 12 to 14 teams has the necessary support among the sport’s franchise owners to be enacted.

Commissioner Roger Goodell has said he expects the owners to consider a possible expansion of the playoff field, in which one additional team would reach the postseason in each conference, but such a change probably would not take effect until the 2015 season at the earliest.

The proposal first would have to be ratified by at least 24 of the 32 owners. New York Giants co-owner John Mara said this week it’s too soon to know how much support such a measure has among the owners.

“Until we have a discussion on it on the floor, it’s hard to say,” Mara said in a telephone interview. “You need 24 votes in this league. Is there enough support? It’s hard to say. I have mixed feelings on it. I’ve always been opposed. One of my concerns is when do you play the games. I think there are some issues there. I’m also concerned about watering the playoffs down. But I’m still willing to listen to the other side.”

Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II said by phone Thursday: “I think there’s interest in hearing about the whole proposal. It’s something we’re willing to listen to.”

The owners could consider the proposal this offseason. Goodell said at the conclusion of an owners’ meeting in October in Washington that he did not foresee such a move being made in time for the 2014 season.

The proposal would have seven teams in each conference qualifying for the playoffs instead of the current six. Only one team per conference would receive a first-round bye, rather than the current two.

That would mean there would be a total of six first-round playoff games, counting both conferences, instead of the current four. Goodell has said some of those games potentially could be played on Friday night or Monday night rather than having all of them played on Saturday and Sunday.

The change would generate additional revenues for the NFL and potentially could come in conjunction with a reduction of the preseason, currently at four games per team.

The owners appear to have abandoned, at least for now, their previous proposal to expand the regular season from 16 to 18 games per team while cutting the preseason. The NFL Players Association opposed that proposal. An expansion of the playoff field could replace a longer regular season as the means of boosting revenues in conjunction with a reduction of the preseason.

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