COMMISSIONER GOODELL PRESS CONFERENCE
LEAGUE MEETING, CHICAGO,
May 23, 2017
Commissioner Goodell: We spent the majority of our time today on competition committee matters. The one that’s gotten the most attention is the change to our celebration rules.
It came after a lot of discussions with our players, our coaches and our officials, our clubs, and the fans. We saw a lot of interest in liberalizing and allowing the players a little more freedom to express their joy, their individuality and, frankly, celebrate the game. That’s what we think we’ve accomplished here. There will be an on-going dialogue with a lot of parties to make sure we implement it. The number-one thing that I took away from the conversations with players is the incredible commitment they have to the game and the integrity of the game. They recognize that sportsmanship is an important thing for them to demonstrate on the field in large part because of the people who are watching, and also to keep high standards. That is why we will want to continue to have their involvement. They want to continue to have a voice and an ownership in this to make sure it’s done the right way, and we will certainly welcome that.
We also spent a fair amount of time on health and safety as we normally do. Dr. Sills, our new chief medical officer, is here and he made a presentation to membership. He’s only three weeks into the job, but there were several things that he reported on, including this year we will be using medical examination tents on the sidelines, which you may have seen to some extent on the college level. It’s an opportunity for us to have a better examination because it will ensure privacy for a short period of time, so doctors can go ahead and make the appropriate diagnosis.
We also spent some time on overtime, another important change. We had discussed this back in March. We tabled it to make sure we had thought through all aspects of it. We think this is an important change, particularly for teams that may be into an overtime situation, and a lengthy overtime situation, and have to come back and play on a Thursday night.
We also approved the Raiders lease today, another positive step. The Las Vegas Stadium Authority approved their lease last week and we did the same. That’s another good move for us.
The last big issue is obviously the Super Bowls. You all read last week the postponement of the Rams’ stadium opening in Los Angeles until 2020. That creates a conflict with our policy with respect to having two years of operation prior to hosting the Super Bowl. This is something that the Rams were very cooperative on and the Chargers were very cooperative on. They want to do the right thing, and we felt that the right thing was to postpone the Super Bowl for a year. Tampa will take over Super Bowl 55 and Los Angeles will have the opportunity to host Super Bowl 56, but all within a 90-day period to make sure that the requirements for hosting a Super Bowl are met, to make sure that we can ensure the proper experiences for our fans.
On Marvin Lewis’ celebration comments:
I’ve heard it from Marvin before. We’ve had these discussions over the las couple of years. I think the players will prove him wrong on that. I think the players will do this in a way that will be responsible, show good sportsmanship and do it in a way that is entertaining but also respectful.
On Tom Brady and concussions:
You also saw the statement that his agent made, that he hasn’t been diagnosed with a concussion or wasn’t last season. This is something that’s an on-going issue for us. We want to make sure that the proper medical care is given to every player. The responsibility is a shared responsibility, for our teams, our medical professionals, the players themselves. We put in a lot of safeguards that I think are incredibly important in changing the culture. That’s what we’ve done. There is still more work to be done. We’ll continue to do that. We do not have any records that indicate that Tom suffered any kind of concussion or head injury. We’ll continue to work with the NFLPA and see what we can do to improve the protocols.
On players self-reporting concussions:
You’ve seen the change that’s happened over the last several years. The culture change has taken place. It is still a culture change so it will have imperfections and it will continue to evolve over years, but you really see players now saying, ‘I don’t feel right, I need to get a medical exam.’ You see teammates that say, ‘You know what, he doesn’t seem right to me or coaches. All of that is an advancement. All of the steps that we take are to put as many precautions in place – if we see something, we can make sure that the right medical attention is given to the players. That’s our objective, and that’s our priority.
On mobile apps within the Las Vegas Stadium that will be built:
That’s not something we’ve addressed at this point, but I’ve said before that with the Raiders playing in Las Vegas there will be policies that we are going to evaluate. We are going to look at what we can do differently but also intelligently and be responsible. We want to protect the integrity of the game and make sure that is the most important thing at all times. So we will look at all of these things over the next couple years.
On the process of the vote concerning Super Bowls LV and LVI:
This has been a discussion that Stan has obviously communicated with us, with me in particular, the challenges that he’s had over the last several months with respect to the weather and the construction schedule. I was aware at least there was a potential risk there and had some conversations with some of our owners. The bottom line is Stan was incredibly cooperative on this. He wants to do what’s right for the NFL. His number-one objective is creating a quality stadium for the long-term for the fans in Los Angeles and his commitment has not wavered on that.
We felt the right thing to do is to not put any risk to the Super Bowl that is an incredibly complex event. God forbid if there’s some other kind of natural disaster or some other thing that might affect the schedule — which he does not obviously anticipate and feels comfortable with the timeframe — it would put an undue risk to the Super Bowl and to our fans. From our standpoint, we thought this was the appropriate thing to do. We were fortunate that Tampa had a very competitive presentation when they bid on the Super Bowl earlier and so this was a solution that the membership came around to very quickly.
On Mark Cuban’s Las Vegas comments:
Well, he’s right, Oakland is a bigger market, but Las Vegas is a faster-growing market. We have tried very hard to keep the Raiders in Oakland and it’s something we wanted to accomplish as you know. In addition to all of the efforts, the ownership put up $300 million to contribute to a stadium solution and we still couldn’t get there, so we were all disappointed with that outcome but we are also very excited about what Las Vegas offers. We know we have doubters on a variety of things we do, and that motivates us to make it right. But we think it’s going to be a great thing for the league.
On the speed of Las Vegas relocation process:
The process for us has been well over a decade but I know it seems fast to you and in Vegas that’s the case. But for us it started with all the efforts to try to keep the Raiders in Oakland and try to get a stadium solution that worked for the long term and that has been well over a decade, and we’re disappointed with the outcome. But Las Vegas moved very quickly. They were energetic, they were focused, they recognized the benefit of having the Raiders in their marketplace, and my hat’s off to them for the work that they did in a short period of time. We’re excited about Las Vegas because of the city that it is and the city that it has intentions to become. It’s a diverse city, it’s the fastest-growing city in the country and it’s an entertainment and hospitality market that in some ways is unmatched in the country. That is something that excites us very much. Our job now will be to build a great stadium and to do whatever is necessary to make the Raiders successful there.
On opening up the Super Bowl LV bid to other clubs:
No. Privately the committee discussed where we were and the alternatives that we had, but there wasn’t really any serious discussion about that. The focus was that we had a short time frame here. We had a tremendous city (Tampa Bay) that made an outstanding bid and was fully capable of hosting the Super Bowl and we should move quickly.
On CBA update and scheduled talks with the NFLPA:
We haven’t had any formal talks. I remain in contact with De but we have not had any formal conversations. We did have an update today. We do that on a regular basis and so we keep our ownership apprised of that.
On whether he was surprised about how far the stance on celebrations turned:
The reality is that you know that the players want to celebrate. You know they want to exhibit their individuality and excitement that they’re feeling at the time and they’re very creative as we all know. That didn’t surprise me. Several players mentioned they didn’t like the props but that wasn’t unanimous. What was a very strong consensus was the importance of keeping the standards up so it reflected well on the players, reflected well on the game and that we didn’t do things that would be insulting to our fans. I’m confident that the players are going to do that.
On Colin Kaepernick:
Each team makes individual decisions on how they can improve their team. If they see an opportunity to improve their team they do it. They evaluate players. They evaluate systems and coaches. They all make those individual decisions to try and improve their team.
On if he talked to Kaepernick since everything happened:
I wouldn’t be opposed to speaking to him, but I haven’t. It’s certainly something I could do, but it’s something I haven’t thought about.
On any discussions of eliminating overtime:
No. Everyone feels strongly that the competition is the most important thing and that we want to have competitive games. Fortunately, we do. We had one of our most competitive seasons. I think it was the most competitive since 1932. That’s a good thing for the game and the fans. What we also believe is we play to win and that’s the effort. Fans would love to see a winner. Some of the conversation on the changes we made to the overtime were about will it lead to more ties? We don’t know, but we don’t believe so. We think that the strategy that our coaches will take and our teams will take will solve that problem, but that’s always a possibility. We’ll evaluate it but we like the overtime and we’ve spent a lot of time over the years discussing different formats of overtime. We think we have a very good format and this is an improvement to that.
On sudden death OT:
We think it is sudden death. If somebody returns a kick for a touchdown, the game is over. At any point a touchdown ends the game. From our standpoint, we believe it is sudden death. It’s a nice mix of sudden death and both teams getting the ball if you can prevent the team with the ball first from scoring a touchdown.