ORLANDO, Fla. -- Playoff expansion to 14 teams is on its way. The only question left is when.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would not say the words above so bluntly, but that was the only takeaway possible after hearing his thoughts on the matter Wednesday at the NFL Annual Meeting.
"I think there is a tremendous amount of interest in this, possibly even to the point of support," Goodell said after ownership discussed the topic this week. "But there are also things we still want to make sure we do right. We've been very incremental in trying to do this. But we believe competitively it could make our races toward the end of the season even more exciting, more teams vying for playoff positions, which is great for our fans."
There are competitive and financial reasons to expand the playoffs, but this news still comes as a disappointment. (Although not a surprise.) The playoffs will become watered down with more mediocre squads, diminishing the accomplishment of making the postseason. Before that happens, Goodell cited the need to discuss the matter further with the NFL Players Association and the league's broadcast partners. But he wouldn't even rule out changing the playoffs in time for the 2014 season.
"It's not out of the question, but we didn't make that decision at all. We have more work to do. I wouldn't rule it out, but I wouldn't say that's the direction we're headed right now," Goodell said.
It's telling that Goodell left that door open. While it's far more likely the playoffs will be expanded in 2015, the change is only a matter of time.