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Playoff Expansion Good for Cowboys, Bad for Football

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It's been another bad week for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. 

    Goodell spent the better part of a year trying to make suspensions of four players for their alleged involvement in the Saints' bounty program stick, only to see all his machinations go up in smoke when Paul Tabliabue wiped them out on Tuesday. Tagliabue's decision confirms the feelings of many who felt Goodell was overreaching without strong evidence backing him up as part of an effort to make it seem the league is deeply concerned with player safety. 

    That he did this while pushing for an 18-game season and refusing to address rule changes that would protect defensive players in a way that comes close to resembling the protections built in for offensive players made it hard to take him seriously. And his response to the news about the suspensions suggests he's not interested in really dealing with that issue either. 

    Goodell said Wednesday that the league is discussing expanding the playoffs to 14 or 16 teams in the future, which is about as naked an attempt to change the subject as you could ever hope to see. It's as bad an idea as the bounty suspensions. 

    We get why teams would be into this. In recent years, it has become clear that making the playoffs is the biggest key to making it to the Super Bowl. Once you're in, there's a chance to get hot and win it all. 

    For the Cowboys, in particular, this seems like a great idea. They seem to wind up in the 8-8/9-7 mushy middle of the NFL as often as any team and some of those years would wind up with playoff berths under an expanded system. The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not that's actually a good thing. 

    Expanding the playoffs would be a league sanctioned salute to mediocrity, inviting teams that could win only half their games (or less, depending on the season) to compete for a championship that they have no business winning. There's no integrity to that, no sense that there's a serious interest in finding the best of the 32 teams in the NFL by the end of the playoffs. 

    It's nice to throw a bone to fans of teams who are on the outskirts of the playoff race at this point in the season, but football fans understand and enjoy the fact that every week of the season matters. Expanding the playoffs wouldn't actually make these final weeks more exciting. They'd wind up making a loss this week mean very little since there are still so many routes to the playoffs. 

    Why take competition out of the NFL in an effort to add even more parity to a league that has way too much of it? 

    The only answer that makes sense is that it distracts the masses from the major pie in the face you took earlier in the week.