NFL Changes: Expanded Playoffs, eliminating Extra Point?

roger-goodell-nfl-playoffsFollowing every NFL season, commissioner Roger Goodell and his cronies look at ways that they can improve the league. Sure, Super Bowl XLVIII is still a week and a half away, but to the NFL’s top brass, it’s already time to start planning ahead. And this means that there could possibly be a huge rule change or two in the works.

One rule change that could be happening in 2014 is the elimination of extra points. This would only work to further take the “foot” out of football. But certain fans and coaches think that the play is a waste of time because of how often kickers make PAT’s. Others, like New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, think that it needs to be modified somehow.

“I would be in favor of not seeing it be an over 99 percent conversion rate,” Belichick told CBS.com. “It’s virtually automatic. That’s just not the way the extra point was put into the game. It was an extra point that you actually had to execute and it was executed by players who were not specialists, they were position players.”

stephen-gostkowskiEven a few kickers themselves aren’t totally opposed to seeing a change in how extra points are performed. Belichick’s kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, told CBS that it wouldn’t be so bad to move the mark back a few yards. “If they want to move it back, go ahead, but completely eliminating it would be a terrible, terrible thing,” he said. “It’s such a good game the way it is, I don’t know why we have to go change everything all the time.”

It’s unclear how much support there is among top league officials with regard to getting rid of or changing extra points. So we can’t quite say it’s automatic (or rather an extra point) that PAT’s will be taken out of the game. Something else big that’s being discussed is a playoff expansion in 2-3 years.

The last time that the playoffs were expanded was 1990, when an additional Wild Card slot was added in both conferences. This made for a total of three division champions (now four) and three Wild Cards. Now, Goodell wants to expand the amount of teams that make the postseason from 12 to 14.

nfl-playoffs-expandedAdding a couple more teams would create lots excitement near the end of the playoff chase. Furthermore, it would add another playoff game in each conference, bringing more television revenue to the league. For this big change to pass, it’d need approval by 24 of the 32 NFL team owners. Of course, this is going to be easier said than done.

New York Giants co-owner John Mara didn’t exactly give the change a ringing endorsement. “Until we have a discussion on it on the floor, it’s hard to say,” he told the Washington Post. “You need 24 votes in this league. Is there enough support? It’s hard to say. I have mixed feelings on it. I’ve always been opposed. One of my concerns is when do you play the games. I think there are some issues there. I’m also concerned about watering the playoffs down. But I’m still willing to listen to the other side.”

Assuming most other owners disagree with Mara’s assessment and vote in favor of an expanded postseason, the change wouldn’t take place until at least 2015. But there’s no telling if owners would even get around to deciding the issue by then.

For the past few years, the idea of eliminating the preseason and changing the amount of regular season games from 16 to 18 has been kicked around. But after lots of talks and discussions on the matter, it doesn’t seem like team owners have any intention of adding two more regular season games.

Things get Ugly in Tampa Bay with Leak of Josh Freeman’s Drug Program Involvement

josh-freeman-drug-programThe past few weeks have already been miserable for Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman. All throughout September, he was bashed for sleeping through a team photo and losing his captaincy through a team vote. On Sunday, he was officially benched in favor of rookie Mike Glennon. And now Tampa Bay has leaked information on Freeman’s involvement in the NFL’s drug program.

The latter is not only something that reflects negatively on the embattled quarterback, but also on head coach Greg Schiano and the Bucs organization in general. Freeman’s teammates weren’t even supposed to know about him being in the program – let alone the media. So now the NFL is investigating the matter because leaking sensitive information of this nature is a huge violation of league standards.

When news first surfaced about Freeman’s alleged drug problem, people began to connect the dots. A missed team photo, a loss of confidence in him by the coaching staff, losing his job to a rookie third-rounder…it all added up to a major problem. However, the truth is that Freeman voluntarily checked himself into the NFL’s drug program after accidentally taking Ritalin instead of Adderall to treat his ADHD.

The fifth-year quarterback’s actions are certainly not despicable by any means. But the violation of his privacy is, and it’s something that Freeman won’t take lightly. “Since the confidentiality of my medical status has been publicly violated,” he said, “I am choosing to address this matter so that grossly erroneous assumptions about me do not persist.”

At this point, there’s no word on who leaked the info to the press. But Freeman strongly suggested that it’s somebody within Tampa Bay as he said, “Unfortunately, it appears that some people who may have noticed the testing at my workplace have made hurtful and incorrect assumptions, and chosen to disseminate inaccurate and very disturbing information.”

josh-freeman-tampa-bayLeaking Josh Freeman’s involvement in a drug program is just the latest disaster for the Buccaneers. They’ve opened the year with zero wins through their first four games and have looked very undisciplined under Schiano. Many people have already been calling for the head coach to be fired, and now it’s highly likely that somebody from his staff smeared Freeman.

Schiano denied having any knowledge of who’s been talking to the press. But it certainly doesn’t reflect well upon him since he was never a supporter of Freeman to begin with. Now Tampa Bay’s front office has even more ammunition to fire him, beyond a winless start to this season.

Moving past Schiano, Freeman and the Bucs, this situation is bad for the entire league. The NFL has been working hard to ensure that players feel comfortable approaching team officials about personal and substance abuse problems. With the disaster that Freeman has experienced in Tampa Bay, players may think twice about discussing these matters with coaches.

This is especially true if somebody has a more severe problem than mistakenly taking Ritalin. If a player struggles with an alcohol or cocaine addiction, they’d be very wary about the press finding out.

Taking all of this into account, you can bet that Rodger Goodell and league officials will take this situation very seriously. At the least, somebody is getting suspended when the NFL finds out what happened. And now Schiano has to worry even more about the status of his job.