Lamar Hunt statue outside Arrowhead Stadium is dedicated
In 2003, NFL owners tabled a plan to expand the playoff field by two teams, but times have changed and the league apparently now is open to the idea. Ditto for the NFL Players Association.
NFL.com reported Monday that the league’s owners and the players “have expressed an openness to expanding the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams — a change that would help offset revenue lost by cutting the preseason to three games, which is considered likely as the sides begin another bargaining session Monday in Chicago.”
Patriots owner Robert Kraft suggested expanding the playoff field to 14 teams in 2003 and late Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt was a strong proponent. In fact, Hunt was in favor of a 16-team playoff field.
“From a competitive standpoint, I can make a very strong case that the bye week is unfair,” Hunt told ESPN at the time. “By and large, from the physical nature of this sport, the bye week is contrary to the idea that we try to sell that all teams have a fair chance. I will tell you in advance that I would favor having 16 teams in the playoffs so nobody has a bye. It’s a tremendous advantage having a bye.”
A 14-team playoff field would give one team a bye. In 2018, that would have been the Chiefs and Saints.
Had seven AFC teams made the postseason a year ago, the 9-6-1 Steelers would have been the seventh seed and played at New England. The other games would have remained the same: Chargers-Ravens and Colts-Texans. In the NFC, the 8-7-1 Vikings would have been the No. 7 seed.
Kraft told the New York Times in 2003 that he believed an expanded playoff field would generate more excitement.
“It’s the fans who count most,” Kraft told the Times. “Two more cities where there are playoffs would be special.”
NFL.com reported that the players and league have held five formal bargaining sessions as they continue to work on a new deal before the collective-bargaining agreement expires in March 2021.
You can read more on the NFL.com story here.