The annual hoopla surrounding the NFL playoffs has stirred its ruckus once again. With this year’s climax staged for New York(NJ really), an anticipant atmosphere has fueled the typical talk show mumblings and radio rumblings. Nevertheless, the NFL playoff model has been idolized by fellow sports leagues for its competitive balance, dramatic outcomes, and concise format. Television networks gush over revenue from playoff streaming, which rise year after year. Short and sweet, the NFL playoffs are the princess in the financial hierarchy of televised pro sports. To change what is already pristine would be to thrust a dagger into the heart of a royal moneymaker.
Recently, a distant uproar surfaced proposing the idea that the playoffs be expanded. Notorious Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whose club watched the playoffs for the fourth straight season, told 105.3 The Fan that expanding the playoffs would “… just [create] that much more excitement and that much more interest for people in [those communities whose teams qualify]. So I fall on the side of the ledger that would increase the playoffs.” Even though Jones’ Cowboys wouldn’t have qualified for the tournament win expanded form, it’s clear that Jones is frustrated that his own “community” hasn’t been able to engross themselves in playoff frenzy. A playoff fever in Dallas would offer Jones publicity and profits unrivaled by any gimmicky concert or minuscule event he could book. Clearly, Jones has his own agenda for voicing such concerns.
Jones’ bias in this interview brushes the shortcomings connected with extending the playoffs under the proverbial rug. If there were to be two extra teams added to each conference—tallying sixteen teams overall—the beauty of the league’s weekend schedule would be lost. A four-team expansion would mean that eight games would need to be played in the first round. Twenty-four hours of television couldn’t realistically fit into a 48-hour television schedule, meaning that the schedule would have to spread out more than two days. In a league where the suspense is built up in anticipation from Sunday to Sunday, the NFL would undoubtedly lose viewership by expanding the slate.
More importantly, adding two more teams to each conference would eliminate the luxury of a bye in the first round. Currently, the first and second seeded teams would have earned a be into the second round, giving them a cherished week of rest. Should the delicate schedule be tampered with, there would be no conceivable advantage to being the second seed. While The first seed would earn home field advantage for the entire tournament, seed two would be left without constellation. This means that, towards the end of the regular season, teams out of contention for the first seed will rest players, seeing no advantage to coming in second. The competition of the final few games would decrease significantly, leaving a weaker product on the field.
Even amidst pleas from powerful, yet truly desperate owners, the NFL needs to stand pat on its current playoff schedule. After all, a princess would never listen to a band of bungling court jesters.
Photo: NY Daily News