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Goodell says NFL aims to expand playoff format

By Zach Berman The Philadelphia Inquirer (MCT) • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:54 PM

NEW YORK — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL is looking to expand the postseason by two teams, from 12 total teams to 14. That would provide one additional team to each conference’s playoffs. Goodell said it will get “very serious consideration” by the league’s competition committee.

“There’s a lot of benefits to doing that,” Goodell said.  ”We think we can make the league more competitive. We think we can make the matchups more competitive towards the end of the season. There will be more excitement, more memorable moments for our fans. That’s something that attracts us. We think we can do it properly from a competitive standpoint.”

Any change would need to be approved by owners. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said that he is curious about the scheduling part of it. He said a change is a “possibility,” but he would want to know when the games would be played for competitive purposes. He also wants to guard against too many playoff games.

“We always got to keep it in terms of a ratio of scarcity,” Lurie said. “We don’t want to become like other sports where it’s too easy to make the playoffs. Adding one team would not put us in a counter-productive situation. But when would you play the games is very important, so that the following games, you have virtually equally time to prepare.”

One part of the NFL that will not change is their stance toward marijuana. Although recreational marijuana is now legal in Colorado and Washington — the home states of both Super Bowl teams — Goodell said marijuana remains an illegal substance on a national basis, and that its illegality was collectively bargained with the players.

Goodell said the positive effects of marijuana remain questionable, but the that there is “very strong evidence” about the negative effects.

“Our experts right now are not indicating that we should change our policy in any way,” Goodell said. ”We are not actively considering that at this point in time. But down the road sometime that is something we would never take off the table if it could benefit our players at the end of the day.”

Health and safety remains an ongoing issue. San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis was present at Goodell’s news conference and asked why the NFL does not offer free lifetime health benefits. Goodell said the health benefits were improved during the most recent labor negotiations, and that they were collectively bargained.

Goodell was later asked why reported concussions declined were down 13 percent this year despite improved diagnostic tools and sideline doctors. Goodell cited the changes to the rules and equipment.

“The culture is changing and changing for the better,” Goodell said. “The game is safer, it’s more exciting and it is more popular than ever.”

The commissioner skirted around a question about the Washington Redskins name, citing polls that suggest that most Native Americans and those in the general population support the name.

“We are being respectful of people who disagree,” Goodell said, “but let’s not forget this is the name of a football team.”

When asked about the league’s continued opposition to legalized sports gambling despite its endorsement of fantasy football, Goodell said the NFL differentiates between the two and does not view fantasy football in the same category. He does not expect a change in the league’s opposition to sports gambling, which is a major issue in New Jersey.

“Fantasy has a way of getting people to engage with more with football, and they do it in a fun, friendly, and . . . a family manner,” Goodell said. “I think it’s great for friends, and I think it’s great for football.”


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