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NFL Changes: Is the Game We Love Going to be Gone?
There are NFL changes looming on the horizon this season, making the game we know and love look a bit different. It has been reported by many sources that the NFL is discussing a new schedule that would decrease the number of preseason games from four to three in addition to the regular 16-game season. Other proposed changes include adding two more teams to the playoffs in wild-card positions (one additional from each conference). Currently, a total of 12 teams get in to the post season. Each conference (NFC and AFC) has four division champions and two wild-card teams which advance to the playoffs.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke with the Associated Press Sports Editors recently and said that a vote is still uncertain on the proposal to add two teams to the postseason. The extension is on tap to be discussed during the owners’ Spring league meetings taking place May 19th- 21st in Atlanta, Georgia. Should the owners vote on the increase, Goodell said the 14-team playoffs could be implemented as soon as the upcoming season, or could be postponed until 2015. If they decide against an immediate vote and opt to push it off until October or March, then 2015 would be the target for expanded playoffs.
A consultation with the players union would also be in order, but it appears that the playoff expansion is going to happen sooner or later.
“We’re being very deliberate about it,” Goodell said. “We want to make sure we do it in the right way.”
Goodell also spoke about adding more teams to the playoffs with NFL.com’s Judy Battista.
“With the competitiveness of the league, you see teams get hot the second half of the season. A reasonable argument could be made that there are teams that should qualify for the playoffs and don’t and could win the Super Bowl,” Goodell said. “I don’t think we want to expand just to have more teams. We want to create more excitement, more interest and give teams a chance to win the Super Bowl.”
But it’s more than “giving more teams a crack at the Super Bowl”. What is the real reason that the NFL would be interested in implementing more playoff games? Money, of course. More playoff games mean that more teams would be involved later in the season, and we can naturally assume that that means both more television money and more ticket sales.
Extra-Point Kicks Getting Longer
In other game changing news, although NFL owners vetoed a proposal to move the spot of the ball on extra points to the 25-yard line, the league will be experimenting with the longer kicks in the preseason. Viewers in Week One and Week Two of this year’s preseason can expect to see the ball snapped from the 20 yard line for extra-point kicks. This makes them more challenging at about the same distance as a 38 yard field goal. It’s still a pretty easy kick, but less of an automatic scoring opportunity than the existing 20 yard field goal distance kickers are used to.
Currently, extra-point kicks are good roughly 99 percent of the time, and are a more a formality than something worth watching. The extra challenge of the longer kick is hoped to make them more exciting and worthwhile for the viewers. Take note that no changes are currently planned for the two-point conversion attempt, which will remain at the 2-yard line.
New York Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin weighed in on the changes.
“I personally don’t see the necessity of making that a more competitive play. There are other thoughts involved too. It’s November, it’s December, it’s MetLife Stadium, it’s zero degrees, it’s snowing, and you’re going to line up for an extra point to win the division and it’s a 43-yard field goal? That’s an interesting concept.”
Uprights and Taunting
Additionally, the league approved a motion to extend the uprights five feet. This move will help officials to determine if a field goal or extra-point try is good after the ball goes over either of the uprights.
Player celebrations and taunting will also be monitored more closely this season. The league will no longer allow players to dunk the ball over the crossbar after a touchdown, and coaches and players are being reminded about more vigorous enforcement of taunting penalties. There were a total of 34 taunting penalties called last year, compared to just nine in 2012.
Co-chairman of the NFL league’s competition committee and Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher, agrees that something needs to be done to nip the taunting in the bud.
“The committee agreed that we have an issue on the field and we agreed that we are going to get it under control as soon as we possibly can. We’re going to effect change immediately. We’ve got to change our conduct on the field and bring the element of respect back to its highest level.”
Which of these changes do you think will make the most notable difference to the game? Do you think the changes are necessary?