Mortensen: 2001 archive

NFL still hopes car dealers accommodate Super Bowl

Sept. 27
If the Super Bowl is not moved to a Feb. 3 date -- still a strong possibility -- a revised "Shanahan Plan" may reduce the wild-card playoff field from six teams to four teams, league sources indicated Thursday.

Under the revision, the wild-card playoffs would be played on Wednesday, Jan. 9. It would pit only four wild-card teams against each other, so as not to penalize divisional champions with a short-week schedule.

There are a few problems with a final-four round in New Orleans, but it's still a viable plan. Our hope is still with the auto dealers swapping dates.
An NFL official
The Shanahan Plan, as proposed by Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, allowed for the traditional six wild-card teams; teams that advanced would be required to play three games in 12 days. Under this plan, the final regular-season weekend games involving potential playoff teams would be played on Jan. 4 and 5 (Friday and Saturday), with the four wild-card games slated for Jan. 9 and 10 (Wednesday and Thursday), and then the divisional playoffs going on Jan. 13 and 14 (Sunday and Monday).

Currently, two of the six division champions participate in the wild-card playoff round. League officials now believe the "Shanahan Plan" would be punitive to teams that win a division title. Nevertheless, the hope remains that the Super Bowl can be moved from Jan. 27 to Feb. 3, allowing for a traditional playoff schedule.

Negotiations between the NFL and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) should provide a resolution by Friday regarding whether the Super Bowl will be moved to a Feb. 3 date in New Orleans. The league, along with city and state officials, has asked NADA to accommodate a switch.

If a deal falls through, the league will turn to the revised wild-card format or move the Super Bowl to Los Angeles, Miami or Tampa for a Feb. 3 game. It would offer New Orleans a "final four" NFC-AFC championship round on Jan. 27 and commit to a future Super Bowl in the city.

One problem that the league has discussed is the controversy such a "neutral site" offers for a final-four round in New Orleans. One scenario: The St. Louis Rams win home-field advantage in the NFC, and the Saints advance to the title game as a wild card. The Saints would then have home-field advantage.

"There are a few problems with a final-four round in New Orleans, but it's still a viable plan," said a league official. "Our hope is still with the auto dealers swapping dates."

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