If Roger Goodell gets his way, change is coming to the NFL.
Adding playoff teams. Monitoring instant replay from league headquarters. Possibly creating a set of guidelines to prevent locker-room bullying.
Short on details or precise timetables, and acknowledging he will need approval from team owners for action, the NFL commissioner painted the picture of an ever-evolving league during his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference, held Friday in New York.
Goodell said “there’s a lot of benefits” to increasing the postseason field from 12 to 14 clubs.
“We think we can make the league more competitive. We think we can make the matchups more competitive toward the end of the season. There will be more excitement, more memorable moments for our fans. And that’s something that attracts us,” Goodell said.”
That sort of proposal would require approval from 24 of the 32 owners.
Making a not-so-subtle reference to mistakes by game officials this season, Goodell said that committee also will make recommendations to the 32 owners about having replays from all games overseen by the league office. Major League Baseball recently joined the NHL as sports that have centralized replay systems.
“We think there’s plenty of room for us to improve the game of football, and officiating in particular. What we all want is consistency and fairness in our officiating,” Goodell said.
Among other topics Goodell addressed:
• Another focal point, according to Goodell, will be preventing the kind of alleged bullying that rocked the Miami Dolphins this season.
• The NFL is “not actively considering” allowing players to use marijuana for medical reasons, but “that’s something we would never take off the table, if it can benefit our players.”
• He said the league is “listening” to and is “being respectful” of those who have expressed opposition to the Washington Redskins nickname, while also saying the team has “honored” Native Americans with the use of its nickname. He also cited polling results indicating that most people do not believe the name should be changed.
• Both the Seahawks and Broncos held their final major practices for the Super Bowl, the Seahawks practicing for 77 minutes at the Giants practice facility and the Broncos going for nearly 90 minutes at the Jets facility. Both teams will hold a walkthrough on Saturday.
• The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are investigating a suspicious white powder that was mailed to at least five New Jersey hotels near the site of the Super Bowl. The FBI said no injuries have been reported.