NFL continues trying to maximize riches

The NFL is getting more profitable and popular by the year, but the league isn't sitting idly satisfied. One consideration is adding two more playoff teams to generate more interest and cash.

The business of the NFL is at a watershed moment. New, more lucrative TV contracts are kicking in and the The Shield is the king of the sports world. Even before the increased TV rights kick in, the NFL salary cap is increasing by $10 million from 2013 to 2014 with no end in sight of the money-making machine.

At a time when the national economy was in one of the worst downturns in its history, the NFL has been raking in money and enjoying unprecedented financial success. We are at the precipice of dominance in terms of one major sport rendering the other "Big Three" as mere distractions.

It's good to be the king.

Later this month, when the NFL owners convene to talk about the condition their condition is in, they will do so attempting to find ways of maximizing their fan largesse even more. The salary cap for 2014 has been set at $133 million, a reflection of the increased revenues in the NFL, and it could go up another $10 million in each of the next two years.

The NFL isn't ignorant. There was a time when the mantle of financial power laid with Major League Baseball. But a history of corruption and scandal spanning a century has helped the NFL supplant MLB as the national pastime. Right now, the NFL is on the top of the sports mountain and, when things are good, why not capitalize on it? It's the American way. It's good to be the king.

The proposal NFL owners will ponder is finding a way to maximize the league's sustained popularity. And, as they say downtown, the NFL is printing money. Fresh money.

NBC struggled (again) in the Nielsen ratings last fall. Its saving grace was having Sunday Night Football – the top rated weekly episodic program on any of the major networks. The wild card round of the playoffs blew the doors off of the ratings. Fortunately for NBC, it had two of the four games and cashed in big time.

The four opening-round games averaged almost 35 million viewers, with the Packers and 49ers drawing more than 47 million. Them's some "big boy" numbers.

So how does one improve on the rabid success it has enjoyed? Adding more games of course.

With players balking at increasing the number of regular season games, the NFL is looking to maximize the product. A mutually beneficial solution is available. Expand the playoff field by two.

The formula is simple. One team per conference gets a bye instead of the current two. One more team gets added to the playoffs for each conference, increasing the number of playoff times from 12 to 14.

Where the rub comes is how to pull it off. One plan being discussed is to split up the six games that would be played on wild card weekend to have two games on Saturday, three on Sunday and one Monday night.

The proposal would allow three games to be played in prime time on three networks and the money generated could be enormous. While the postseason contracts will continue to bring in giant revenue for the league and the TV networks that pay for the right to broadcast them, the NFL continues to find ways to increase the size of that financial pie. Adding an extra playoff team is just another example of the rich getting richer as the sport's popularity continues to climb.

It's good to be the king.


  • The Jasper Brinkley experiment in Arizona is over. A year ago, the Cardinals signed Brinkley away from the Vikings after he became the full-time starter in 2012. On Friday, he was released in a cap-saving move that will save the Cardinals $2 million against the 2014 salary cap. In his one season with Arizona, Brinkley played in 15 games and made three starts, recording 27 tackles.

  • Sidney Rice is also looking for work after the Seahawks made his release official Friday. Seattle released both Rice and defensive lineman Red Bryant, opening up $12 million in cap space for 2014.

  • Former Viking Erin Henderson was officially charged with four misdemeanor counts stemming from a November 19 DUI arrest. The charges include two counts of driving while impaired, one count of careless driving and one count of possession of a small amount of marijuana. The counts carry a maximum of 90 days in jail or a fine of up to $1,000. Henderson was arrested at 3:30 a.m. after being found asleep at the wheel. His next scheduled court appearance on that matter is April 29. He still has to deal with the Jan. 1 incident in which Henderson got in a single car crash for which he was charged with two counts of DWI, marijuana possession, paraphernalia possession and a violation of the conditions placed on his driver's license after the November arrest. While it is unclear if Henderson will continue his NFL career, if he is convicted or pleads guilty to the charges, the league may get involved because there were two separate incidents involved.

    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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