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Why Jared Allen's Criticism of NFL Playoff Expansion Is Spot-on

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 04: Jared Allen #69 of the Minnesota Vikings walks off the field after warm ups before a game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on November 4, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Gary DavenportNFL AnalystDecember 15, 2012

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, with fresh egg still on his face from the bungled Bountygate fiasco, discussed plans for a potential playoff expansion this week. But if reaction from a number of players is any indication, then the idea is about as popular with the players as Goodell himself.

Among the critics was Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, who lambasted the idea of expanding the postseason field when talking to reporters, according to ESPN.

It's stupid. I think it's a dumb idea. The reason our league is so much better than other leagues, I think, is because of that competition. Every game means something. There are 162 games in baseball and you're like, 'Ehhh.'

No one really watches until the end, right? Basketball, same way. There's no real significance on every game. And I think you damage the sport if an 8-8 team [has a greater playoff chance]. You know what I mean? Now our games become less significant each week if you know, like, 'Oh, I can still lose half my games and sneak into the playoffs.

Allen isn't the only veteran player who isn't crazy about the idea, although according to Mark Maske of The Washington Post, Redskins linebacker London Fletcher wasn't quite as dead set against the idea as Allen appears to be.

Sometimes that can dilute, I guess, the special-ness, the specialty of making it to the playoffs. You work so hard to get into position to make the playoffs. Now they’re talking about adding more teams. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I don’t know. I kind of like the way it is right now. I think that’s a good number right now.

Frankly, I respect the unflinching stance that Allen has taken on this subject, because he's absolutely right.

One of the things that makes the NFL so special is that only 12 of 32 teams advance to the postseason, which gives each of the 16 regular-season games added significance. Every game is important, as the margin for error isn't very big.

Sure, that means that occasionally deserving teams get left out, such as the 10-6 Kansas City Chiefs of 2005, the 11-5 Patriots of 2008 and the 10-6, 2007 Cleveland Browns.

However, better a few good teams get left out of the playoffs than a whole lot of mediocre ones get in, which is exactly what will happen if the field grows.

Expand the number of playoff teams to 14, or even 16 teams, and you get the NBA or the NHL (if they ever play another game). Half of the league makes the postseason, the entire league knows that, and it cheapens the regular season, especially early on.

I don't think it's any coincidence that Goodell mentioned this very idea at the owners' meeting, leaving open the door for the 18-game schedule he pushed for previously, according to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

 

Roger Goodell reiterates that he won't push for an 18-game season unless "we do it the right way"

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 12, 2012

 

That cash grab by the owners was rebuffed by the players, so in the best interests of "the integrity of the game" (which is Goodellese for "makes the owners more money"), the commissioner had to go back to the drawing board to find a new way to line the owners' pockets.

More playoff games would accomplish that goal quite nicely.

However, according to ESPN, Allen also knows that the fact that there's money to be made here means that it's more likely than not the league will explore this avenue, the desires of its players or fans be damned.

With all these changes, it's not necessarily always a good thing. I know it probably is for owners. They make more money. And TV and all that good stuff. But at some point, the identity of our league and what it stands on and why it's so good is because every game means something.

Once again Allen is absolutely right, and it appears that Goodell has learned nothing from the mess in New Orleans, because once again he seems more than happy to chip away at the integrity of the National Football League while pretending to be a champion for it.

 

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