ATLANTA - Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, one of the NFL's most influential voices and a key figure in building the league's soaring revenues over more than two decades, believes the time is right to expand the playoffs from 12 to 14 teams.
Saying it is more a matter of "when and not if," Jones and his fellow owners will discuss expanded playoffs when they gather Tuesday for their annual May meetings. The owners will also award Super Bowl LII (set for February 2018) from among the three remaining finalists: Indianapolis, Minneapolis and New Orleans.
"I think it's more a question of timing, but I do get a real good feeling that at some point, we'll have additional playoff [teams]," Jones said Monday afternoon. "I know we're going to discuss it here. It makes a lot of sense for the NFL. We all know some of the arguing points, but our game is so popular, our league is so equal in terms of how teams compete. I don't think there's anything watered down with two additional teams that would be in the playoffs."
Jones said the owners might not vote on the expanded playoffs at Tuesday's meetings. Jones added that it was his understanding that the league would not require the approval of the NFL Players Association if there were two additional playoff teams -- one wild-card team from each conference.
But if and when the owners do vote, there could be some tricky maneuvering before the teams are added. An official from the NFLPA told Newsday Monday that the union would have to agree to the plan.
NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said the league has yet to submit a plan to the NFLPA for expanded playoffs. Asked if the owners agreeing to add two playoffs teams would require approval from the union, Atallah said, "It would definitely be a topic for [collective] bargaining, no question."
Colts owner Jim Irsay, who was arrested in Carmel, Indiana, on March 17 and charged with driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance, spoke publicly on Monday for the first time since his arrest. He did not comment directly on his situation, however. Irsay was recently treated at an inpatient facility. "It's something where I haven't been in a coma or anything like that," Irsay said. "I've been clued into everything that's been going on the last few months. I'm really not going to talk about anything personal, medical issues, but just grateful to be back. Certainly have a lot of appreciation for the support that I've received." Irsay said he only planned to discuss the Super Bowl bid by Indianapolis at Tuesday's meeting.