ATLANTA — The NFL’s franchise owners, gathered here Tuesday, discussed a proposal to expand the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams but do not plan to have a formal vote on the measure before their one-day meeting concludes, according to two people familiar with the deliberations.
The lack of an official vote Tuesday means the NFL playoffs will remain as is for the 2014 season and will not expand until the 2015 season at the earliest, those people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the developments of the meeting publicly while it was ongoing.
All along, the NFL’s leaders have targeted the 2015 season for the onset of an expanded playoff field, but entering this meeting they had not formally ruled out the possibility of it taking effect during the upcoming season. A vote being taken at this owners’ meeting had been considered a long shot. However, it is widely believed within the sport that it is inevitable the proposal will be ratified for the 2015 season. It must be approved by at least 24 of the 32 teams.
Under the proposal, seven teams in each conference would qualify for the postseason instead of the current six. Only one team in each conference would receive a first-round bye. There would be six opening-round playoff games league-wide rather than the current four, with one of them likely to be held on a Monday night.
The extra playoff games would be intended as a mechanism to generate significant additional revenues for the sport, mostly from its network television contracts.
Update, 2:22 p.m.:
Several owners confirmed during a break in the meeting that no vote would be taken Tuesday. The owners plan to take up the matter again at their next scheduled meeting in October.
“There are some things that the league office is looking at and evaluating,” Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy said. “But I think everybody feels like it’s a pretty good idea.”
Said New York Giants co-owner John Mara: “My guess is that if it happens, it would be for 2015. But that’s not set in stone. … I don’t think it’s a sure thing at all. I would probably say [approval is] more likely than not. But, you know, it still requires 24 votes. And that’s never a sure thing.”
Mara expressed concern that the measure allows too many teams into the postseason.
“I’ve always been against it,” he said. “I just like it the way it is right now. I think we’re diluting it too much. It also creates other issues. You’re going to play one of those games on a Monday night. The prospect of doing that in January is not all that appealing. But most importantly, I like the way it is right now. We had a great opening wild-card weekend this year. It seems like we have that every year. I’m not sure what this is gonna bring.”
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