On 8 January 2014, Roger Goodell - the commissioner of the National Football League - declared his interest in expanding the playoff format, as well as introducing expansion teams in Los Angeles and London.
Goodell’s formula for NFL success has been simple. Follow the money.
This strategy has caused contention in the United States with owners of the teams publicly criticising the commissioner for ignoring the traditions associated with the league – the latest being this week as owner of the New York Giants John Mara denounced Goodell’s playoff ideas.
Despite this, the formula has proved to be profitable, inside and outside of the United States.
The NFL is most popular sports league in America with a large revenue, mainly due to the television deals with Fox, CBS, NBC and ESPN worth a staggering $5 billion.
London’s staging of the NFL international series since 2007 has been a factor, enhancing the international reputation of the NFL.
With British based fans, year after year continuing to buy tickets to regular season games, which has assisted in the introduction of more fixtures at Wembley Stadium – three games will be played at Wembley during the 2014 season.
Moreover, the prospect of an LA franchise would allow the league to enter the second biggest market in the United States.
As of now, the financial figures support the NFL formula. A London and a Los Angeles franchise would make huge money. The expansion of the playoffs would mean more important and intense matches.
Could the NFL become the wealthiest sports league in the world?
There are some complications to the commissioner’s plan. Logistics and player attitudes are the main concern.
An LA team will prove popular with players but the possibility of being drafted or traded to a London team would be the opposite attitude.
In 2013, Cincinnati Bengal offensive lineman, Andrew Whitworth stated that he would ‘quit’ the NFL if he was traded to a London team.
Whitworth, who was speaking to USA Today, stated: "I would hope that I was financially able to quit. That's what I would hope, because if I was, my papers would be the first one in."
If players were content on being based in London, the endless travel between two continents and the changing time zones would gradually undermine player’s perspectives. A London franchise may not be the only concern.
An extended playoffs could dilute the competition, with teams not worthy of a playoff spot earning a chance at the Superbowl.
No one wants to see Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys as the 8th or 10th seed wining the Superbowl. In fact, no one wants to ever see the Dallas Cowboys winning a Superbowl again.
At the moment, extended playoffs and two extra franchises is only a possibility but with the NFL formula deployed by commissioner Goodell there is a strong chance it could happen.
London could even host a Superbowl.....
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