Idea Of NFL Neutral Site Championship Games Has Lost Steam And Gained Strong Opponent

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Coming off a weekend in which its conference championship games in Kansas City and Philadelphia averaged 50.7 million viewers, which represents the most-watched conference championship games since 2014, the NFL has had no conversations about potentially moving future title games to neutral sites.

And even if that conversation does come up among ownership, there is already a very vocal and important voice who is against the possibility.

NFL executive vice president for communications, public affairs and policy, Jeff Miller, said Tuesday that future neutral site games have not been at topic in league circles of late.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – JANUARY 29: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) celebrate during the Championship game between the San Fransisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles on January 29, 2023. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

No NFL Talks Of Neutral Site Games

“We haven’t had a conversation, that at least I’m aware of, about neutral site games,” Miller said Tuesday. “If the ownership wanted to pursue that, I think that they would. There certainly is plenty of time to talk about that in the future. It’s not a new notion, as I understand it having come up many years ago.

“But in the wake of that decision we haven’t had a conversation about making future neutral site games, scheduling anything or making any decision around those.”

Neutral site games were indeed once a more pressing topic of discussion, but that was years ago when Clark Hunt, among the founders of the old AFL and an architect of the AFL-NFL merger that formed the modern NFL in 1970, was a proponent of neutral site games. He pressed that issue at times in league meetings.

But if Hunt, who owned the Kansas City Chiefs, was open to the idea of playing AFC and NFC title games somewhere other than at the top seeds’ stadium, the idea has not been passed down the family tree.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – JANUARY 29: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs leads a huddle prior to the AFC Championship NFL football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cincinnati Bengals at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on January 29, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

Neutral Site Championship Face Obstacles

“One of the things that I’ve learned over the last five years is how special these championship games are when you get to play them at home and you get to celebrate with your fans,” said Clark Hunt, current Chiefs Chairman and CEO, and Lamar Hunt’s son.

“And I know that my dad was a proponent at times of taking the AFC and NFC Championship Games to neutral sites. But I think, based on our experience, I think it’s best to give the team that earned that right the chance to play the game at home.”

So with the Chiefs — once a proponent — now against it, the chances of it becoming a possibility seem slim.

And, it should be noted, the only reason it was even a possibility this season is because of the Damar Hamlin collapse on-field of a cardiac arrest forced the a cancelation of a Jan. 2 between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.

“The neutral site game came from the uniqueness of the situation we were dealing with at the end of the season,” Miller said. “The need to cancel a game and therefore the need to address some degree of competitive inequities, which were created by some teams playing 17 games and others playing 16, and not knowing what the outcome of that canceled game could have portended for the seeding.

“So it was a unique situation.”

That unique situation doesn’t typically happen. And, it seems at this point, neither will future neutral site games outside such unique circumstances.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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