NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said from Wednesday’s owners meetings in the Dallas area that the league would spend the next few months exploring playoff expansion.
“Right now we’re with 12 teams obviously. We’ll look at probably 14 or 16 teams,” Goodell said, adding that it wouldn’t be the first expansion debate brought to the competition committee, according to NFL.com.
Currently, 12 teams make the playoffs — eight division champions and two wild cards in each conference. Half of the league’s 32 teams would make the playoffs if the system were to expand to 16 slots.
Last week, Goodell caused a stir when he said the competition committee would consider the idea of eliminating kickoffs.
It remains to be seen whether those discussions will be any more productive than they were when the league moved kickoffs up to the 35-yard line before the 2011 season.
“We just moved the kickoff 5 yards to reduce kickoff returns, but it was because we really couldn’t come up with a better way where we knew we could move the needle on the injury number and on the concussion number,” said Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, the committee’s chairman. “That doesn’t mean somebody won’t have a more creative way to deal with it in the evolution of it.”
Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano already has one. He has suggested giving the team that normally would kick off the option of punting from its 30 or going for a first down on fourth-and-15. Goodell has called Schiano’s idea “interesting.”
While he coached at Rutgers, Schiano witnessed one of his players, Eric LeGrand, get paralyzed on a kickoff in 2010.
McKay said the increase in touchbacks under the new rule would be secondary to safety concerns.
“I have no question that when get to the offseason that idea will be fully vetted,” McKay said. “When we talk about the kickoff play, one thing we try to do a good job of as a membership is letting the data and the tape, meaning the way the game is played, drive the decision as opposed to the emotion of the moment.”
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