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Roger Goodell: NFL Hasn’t Explored Possibility of Neutral Site Championship Games

Roger Goodell: NFL Hasn’t Explored Possibility of Neutral Site Championship Games

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 13: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the Super Bowl LVII Host Committee Handoff Press Conference at Phoenix Convention Center on February 13, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Despite previous rumblings of league interest in doing so, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said there has not been any serious consideration given to moving conference championship games to neutral sites in the future.

“We have not looked into that,” he told reporters Tuesday.

The idea entered the spotlight this past season in part because the NFL put a contingency plan in place for a neutral-site AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills in Atlanta had those teams advanced that far.

Such a plan was devised after the Bills’ regular-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals was canceled after Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest. Buffalo ended up playing one fewer game than Kansas City as a result and missed the opportunity to be the No. 1 seed with its head-to-head tiebreaker over the Chiefs.

It ultimately didn’t come into play, though, as the Bengals defeated the Bills in the Divisional Round and faced Kansas City in the conference title game.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported in January that interest in permanently moving conference championship games to neutral fields “has become very real” inside the league office.

“The NFL envies the atmosphere of major college bowl games, where a 50/50 mix of fans are decked out in team colors,” Florio wrote. “It’s one thing about college football that pro football does not fully replicate.”

While that could create a unique atmosphere and allow the NFL to take in additional revenue if cities bid for the right to host such games, it would take away the advantage the team with the better record earned during the regular season.

It would also be a massive shift from how the league has operated throughout much of its history with high-staked games being played inside the home stadium of one of the teams.

For now, that is the way it will stay.

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