Expanding NFL playoffs doesn't add up

Commentary

March 27, 2003|By MIKE PRESTON

A DAY FOR rumbling and rambling:

The NFL's desire to possibly add playoff teams is driven by sheer greed. Shame on the Good Old Boys' Network.

The league already has 12 playoff teams, with one winner from each of the four divisions and two wild-card teams from each of the two conferences. There have been proposals to add two, possibly four teams. League officials tabled the proposals until May.

But adding teams would turn the postseason into a sham. The league is already watered down as a result of expansion and free agency, and two more teams would further dilute the playoff pool. We would no longer wonder about the possibility of 8-8 teams making the postseason round, but teams with 7-9 records.

Enough is enough.

The NFL has made a lot of fans happy because of parity, but expanding the playoffs would show that owners want even more money as they laugh their way to the bank.

As for the NFL's overtime policy, the league did itself a favor by vetoing it. A team gets several days of preparation and 60 minutes on Sunday to win. If a team can't get it done in that time frame, then too bad. The coin flip adds to the excitement of overtime, and forces both teams to be more aggressive than they were in regulation.

For those who want each team to get a possession in the overtime period, try a high school game on the weekends.

Maryland fans are jumping up and down as the Terps head into the Sweet 16 this weekend in San Antonio. There is good reason to cheer because the Terps have four senior starters, a talented backcourt in Drew Nicholas and Steve Blake, an experienced coach in Gary Williams and momentum after last week's opening rounds.

But every time you either believe this team is out of it or it isplaying well, it goes in the opposite direction as if it is toying with our emotions. So I'm approaching this weekend like the NFL approaches overtime games by flipping the coin. There is a 50 percent chance the good Maryland team shows up or a 50 percent chance the Terrible Terps appear.

Let me get this right: One Ravens official recently said this team is better right now than it was last season.

Yep, it has gone from being a 7-9 team to at least 8-8.

Wow!

Safety/cornerback Corey Fuller might be a decent player, but his acquisition doesn't do a whole lot for the Ravens. Besides adding special teams player Harold Morrow, the Ravens have done little else. When this team last walked off the field, there was a need at defensive tackle(s), wide receiver and right offensive tackle.

As of today, there is still need at defensive tackle(s), wide receiver and right offensive tackle (still suspect even with the addition of Orlando Brown). As opposed to a couple of months ago, the Ravens now need a proven quarterback.

Fortunately, there is the draft and some more time left in free agency where general manager Ozzie Newsome can apply his mantra, "right player, right price."

By the way, here is hoping that California quarterback Kyle Boller doesn't retire or want to play for another team now that Ravens coach Brian Billick is expected to visit him today with other members of the Ravens staff. Billick hasn't had a lot of success visiting quarterbacks during the offseason.

It's time public high school coaches stop complaining about private schools snatching up athletes. What's the problem?

It's been going on for years, and a lot of public schools have also been taking quality athletes from other public schools. This is America. We have choices.

If you're an athlete or parent and you can get the chance for a better education and coaching, then go where there is the best opportunity. A major problem is that a lot of the private school coaches are more involved with junior league programs and are willing to put more time into their programs.

Usually, the best public high school coaches make similar commitments, and they whine a lot less.

It's hard to bet against Kentucky winning the national championship in college basketball.

The Wildcats have everything. Too much offense. Way too much defense. They've got the great sixth man coming off the bench. They've got defensive stoppers, and a proud tradition.

Kentucky left its mark in the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament last weekend in Nashville, Tenn., where the Wildcats defeated IUPUI and Utah.

"This is a special Kentucky team," said Utah coach Rick Majerus.

"Kentucky is the truth," said IUPUI senior Josh Murray. "I've got to take my hat and my headband off to them."

Orioles pitcher Scott Erickson is out for the year with an injury, and pitcher Sidney Ponson has had three consecutive bad outings. B.J. Surhoff is batting .245, and David Seigui isn't batting at all because of another injury.

Those are just a few reasons why there is no excitement about Opening Day, which is less than a week away.

The Orioles created a buzz with some front office moves during the offseason, but it subsided once spring training opened. Correction. Actually, excitement about the Orioles started to subside once they forced out manager Davey Johnson following the 1997 season.

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