First and watered down: NFL tinkering totally unnecessary

03/23/14 by Rennie Detore

More often than not, everything the National Football League touches turns to gold.
The NFL is a billion dollar entity and easily the most popular sport in the United States, easily topping Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL.
Those who manage the cash cow that is the NFL, namely commissioner Roger Goodell, have done an admirable job of not hitting the auto pilot button and continually tinker in an effort to make the nationally renowned sports entity even better.

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Goodell has thought aloud about any number of items, whether it's having a permanent team in London or eliminating kickoffs or extra points as part of the game. Goodell and company deserve plenty of praise for attempting to cultivate a safety first mentality as part of their game. Rule changes such as taking away the kickoffs, and players running at high speeds and crashing into one another, aren't necessarily a bad thing when it comes to altering how professional football is played.
Where Goodell, his think tank and NFL owners to a degree fan the flames of criticism is when they begin changing the landscape to the point that he waters down a core component of the game: competition.
Goodell and his 32 owners have favorably discussed adding two more playoff teams in 2015, upping the number from six teams in each conference to seven. The NFL already is riddled with parity, with only one or two teams able to pull away from the pack of 32 teams with records that include only a few loses.
Beyond those now unique teams, most of the NFL is a slew of 10-6, 9-7 or 8-8 teams that trade wins and scramble to reach the .500 mark, thanks to the salary cap keeping most everyone on an even playing field.
Adding two more teams to the NFL Playoffs is rewarding average. How much longer before we see a team with a losing record in the playoffs. NFL owners will point to the exceptions to that rule, the few and far between of 10-6 teams, like last year's Arizona Cardinals, that played well but missed the playoffs due to a perceived technicality in the system.
The Cardinals fell victim to being in the same division as powerhouses like the San Francisco 49ers and would be Super Bowl champions the Seattle Seahawks. To completely uproot the playoff system for these anomalies completely waters down the field of play and comes across more as pandering for more money and television ratings from two more cities.
It certainly isn't being done for the sake of competition but rather to add another game to the "Wild Card" weekend and sell more tickets for extra games, thus increasing merchandise and ancillary revenue within the home team's stadium and securing millions more in advertising for this extra game.
That benefits the owners, Goodell and anyone else that stands to pad their wallets even more thanks to extra TV time and T shirt sales.
But the NFL is truly untouchable to some degree. They can make all the rule changes or playoff alterations they want, and they'll never really lose their grip on greatness when it comes to being the sport of choice in the United States.
Anointing two more teams as playoff worthy won't do much to tarnish the NFL or its reputation. Fans will moan and groan, bicker up and down and then be positioned accordingly in front of their televisions without fail or pandering for the perfect seats within the stadium of their choice.
Let's just hope that same fan base enjoys rooting for mediocrity.

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