Expanded playoffs a possibility for this NFL season


NFL commissioner Roger Goodell left open the possibility of expanded playoffs for the 2014 season, although time may be running out to add a wild card to each conference. He said Thursday that owners would discuss an expanded playoff format when they meet May 20 in Atlanta.

“I think it’s something that can be done in a way that will improve competitiveness and create more excitement toward the end of the season,” Goodell said. “We’re quite optimistic about it.”

Giants president John Mara, a member of the competition committee, told Newsday on Tuesday he doubted an expanded playoff format would be approved for this season. Goodell said it won’t happen this year unless it’s approved in May. Even if the owners gave the OK, the NFL Players Association would have to agree.

Extra-point change for preseason

The competition committee approved a measure last month to experiment with extra-point kicks by moving the snap to the 20-yard line from the 2. But NFL director of officiating Dean Blandino said Thursday that the committee has decided to move the snap to the 15. He said some teams expressed concern that an extra-point try with a snap from the 20 (a 38-yard kick) was too hard.

PAT kicks were 99.6-percent successful last season, prompting the league to consider making them more challenging. The snap will be from the 15 in the preseason’s first two weeks. PAT snaps in the regular season will remain at the 2.

Tolerant workplace environment

With linebacker Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player, joining the league, Goodell said it continues to stress an environment that will welcome gay players. “We’ve had a lot of discussions … to make sure we provide the best possible environment,” he said. “We’re going to make sure we (do that) for (Sam).”

Pash: Concussion deal still possible

NFL general counsel Jeff Pash expressed optimism that the NFL and former players who have sued it over concussions can get a settlement approved. A federal judge in Philadelphia held off on approving a $765 million settlement in January, suggesting there wasn’t enough money for players who may make claims.

“The overriding goal of both sides,” Pash said, “is to … start providing compensation for people who need it and do that quickly, without the expense and the trauma of … a multiyear legal battle.”