- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) The Super Bowl will be pushed back a week and played Feb. 3 in New Orleans, allowing the NFL to complete its season without altering its playoff format.
The NFL agreed yesterday to switch its original date of Jan. 27 with the National Association of Automobile Dealers and pay the group $7.5 million to cover the costs of rescheduling its convention.
The need to swap dates was caused when the NFL postponed its second week of games after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
The agreement means that the NFL's regular season will end Jan. 5-6 with the games that should have been played in Week 2, Sept. 16-17.
The wild-card round will be played Jan. 12-13, the conference semifinals Jan. 19-20, and the conference championships Jan. 27, the original date of the Super Bowl.
After it put off the second week of the season, the NFL presented several scenarios for the playoffs.
One was to condense the field from 12 teams to eight and skip a week of playoff games. But that would have forced the NFL to pay back the networks for the games and the networks wanted as much as $80 million.
Another was to condense the playoffs, with teams playing as many as three games in 10 days.
The third was to switch dates with the auto dealers, an agreement that took nearly two weeks of negotiations with NADA. The major problem was logistics switching hotel rooms and other major problems.
"We deeply appreciate the willingness of Phil Brady and America's new car dealers to work with us," commissioner Paul Tagliabue said. "Thanks to their leadership, our fans and teams can look forward to a full complement of playoffs and to a great Super Bowl weekend in New Orleans. We trust that the NADA will enjoy a super convention as well."
Tagliabue also praised Tom Benson, the New Orleans Saints' owner, for his help.
Benson, a former auto dealer, said he talked to a lot of friends in the business in recent days and hadn't been sure a switch could be made.
"Everybody had to cooperate on this in all the little things that were involved," he said. "At first everybody said it couldn't be done."
Benson called it a good move for the city.
"There were a lot of problems, things going on," he said. "And you can see it cost [the NFL] a little money, too, but it was worth it. It was worth it to the team and this community to get it done."

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