Notebook: Playoff expansion a possibility

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that expanding the playoffs by two teams is a real possibility. He also talked about instant replay, the concussion settlement and more in his pre-Super Bowl press conference.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the possibility of adding two teams to the playoffs will "continue to get serious consideration."

Goodell said Friday at his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference that he sees many positives to the proposal. He believes it will make for more meaningful games later in the season, keeping fans engaged.

The league's competition committee is expected to look into the issue this offseason. Each conference would add one playoff team, bringing the total from 12 to 14.


Goodell says it's possible some part of the instant replay process will take place at league headquarters, not just on the field.

The competition committee is expected to examine the issue this offseason. Goodell said one scenario is that officials at the game will still make the final decision, but that someone in New York will also weigh in to ensure the correct call is made.

Goodell says that the "input could be helpful" to "make sure they're seeing any angle."


Goodell says he is confident that the concussion settlement between the league and former players will be approved.

A federal judge has slowed down the proposed $765 million settlement, questioning if there's enough money to cover 20,000 retired players.

Goodell said at his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference Friday that the "settlement we reached can provide the kind of benefits intended, and I'm confident we'll get there."

U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody denied preliminary approval of the plan Jan. 14 because she's worried the money could run out sooner than expected.


Anyone looking for an expert to discuss the candidacies of Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame didn't need to search very far during Super Bowl week.

Hey, Peyton, what do you think?

Dungy was Peyton Manning's coach for seven seasons, winning a Super Bowl, and just as importantly initiating a franchise philosophy based on honesty, trust and never panicking.

"Coach Dungy's influence on me and our entire team was very strong," Manning said as he prepared to play in Sunday's Super Bowl as a member of the Denver Broncos. "His calming presence — that face that you see on TV when he's giving away all of our plays on the NBC halftime show — it's that same calm face he always had which was peaceful for our players in a Super Bowl, in a championship game, in the preseason. It made players on his team play calm and play at a high level.

"I'm indebted to him for his help for me in my career, and of course, our teams there in Indianapolis. I was very honored to play for him for a number of years."

Harrison did it so well that he made 1,102 catches for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns in 13 seasons with the Colts, 11 years with Manning throwing to him. They set a record with 953 completions, 12,766 yards and 112 TDs together.

"Marvin Harrison had a tremendous impact on my career," Manning said. "My very first football game in the preseason, on the third play of the game, I threw my first pass. I threw him about a 4-yard pass, and he ran 48 yards for a touchdown. I said, ‘Boy, this NFL is pretty easy. All you do is throw it to Marvin Harrison and he runs for touchdowns.'

"That's pretty much what he did throughout the time we played together."

Harrison and Dungy are among 17 finalists for the hall; the voting will take place Saturday and be announced that evening, along with the AP NFL awards, at the NFL Honors show. They are first-time eligibles, along with Derrick Brooks and Walter Jones.

It's an impressive list of new candidates — Brooks was perhaps the best outside linebacker of his era with Tampa Bay, and Jones was a practically unbeatable left tackle with Seattle.

And it gets added to an equally outstanding group previously up for election: placekicker Morten Andersen; running back Jerome Bettis; wide receivers Tim Brown and Andre Reed; defensive ends Claude Humphrey (a senior nominee), Michael Strahan, Charles Haley and Kevin Greene; punter Ray Guy (senior nominee); safeties John Lynch and Aeneas Williams, who also played cornerback; guard Will Shields; and former 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.

Guy would become the first full-time punter in the hall, while Andersen, the career scoring leader with 2,544 points in 25 seasons, would join Jan Stenerud as the only placekickers enshrined.


Goodell says the league made a mistake in how it handled ticket sales for the playoffs that led to teams struggling to sellout postseason games.

Goodell spoke during his state of the league address on Friday. He says the league should not have been in the position of playoff games having trouble selling out.

The Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers all had problems. Each team was given extensions to sell out their home games, and in each case, corporations had to step up to buy blocks of the remaining tickets. Meijer in Indianapolis, Associated Bank in Green Bay and P&G in Cincinnati all purchased the ticket and many were distributed to military families and veterans.

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