NFL Commisssioner Roger Goodell gave his annual State-Of-The-League address yesterday, from Indianapolis, site of this Sunday's Super Bowl. There were a handful of items that Goodell spoke to, a few with immediate impact, some with plans to be taken to the NFL Competition Committee and others that may be further down the line.
Immediately, the Commish stated that starting in 2012, the schedule will expand it's Thursday night lineup to start in Week Two and running through Week 15. That is a bit confusing, as the NFL has been running it's kickoff weekend, starting with a Thursday night game to great success. I'd assume that game will still happen and remain on ESPN, while the Week 2 through 15 schedule will be on NFL Network. This addition also comes with the guarantee that all 32 current NFL teams will play at least one primetime game a season.
I love the NFL as much as the next guy... heck, maybe I have more of an addiction than most. I worry that the primetime schedule will now be littered with Chiefs, Browns and Jaguars games and my addiction will force me to at least tune into the first half if the NFL is being broadcast. Damn you, crafty Goodell!
It's well known that the NFL has wanted to return to the Los Angeles, America's second-largest market, since the Rams moved to St. Louis and the Raiders returned to Oakland in 1994. The commissioner seems like he and the owners want it to happen as well. However, in the kindler, gentler NFL Goodell risks alienating some local fan base if he relocates a franchise, no matter how fledgling, in order to make this happen. Can't have that in today's climate of social media trials and the such.
So the plan now seems to be expansion instead of relocation, and because of schedule quirks discovered the last time an odd number of teams roamed the standings ('99-'01 Browns gave the league 31 franchises), two teams will have to join the fold.
Hey, here's a thought. Since there are two viable groups with their own stadium sites trying to get a team in LA, award them both and put one in each conference. It's not like the city has shown it has better things to do than support a team. Oh wait, they have. Multiple times.
[UPDATE]On Friday, during his state of the league, Goodell backpedaled, stating that there are no plans to bring up expansion at this March's owner meetings. Personally though, when the commissioner lays out the expansion plan, doesn't state immediately that it isn't in the plans, it seems to this fan that he's simply trying to tuck the cat back in the bag.[/UPDATE]
Goodell also mentioned that he will recommend the competition committee take a look moving the trade deadline further back than it's current Week Six benchmark. Goodell doesn't support this, however. Personally, it makes a ton of sense that the teams be allowed to better get a grasp on their playoff chances, and knowing that they are truly out of the hunt could lead to some expiring contracts being moved around for draft picks or young prospects.
I don't know how much the NFLPA will be behind this move, since it's contingent isn't used to being treated as commodities the way other American professional sports players are.
He also spoke of the league's blackout rules, cold weather Super Bowls and how the new kickoff rules brought down the number of concussions in 2011, supposedly. Check out this article from the Sacramento Bee to read more on those topics.