Transcript: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell 2013 Fall League Meeting


March 18, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a press conference at the annual NFL meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Per NFL Communications: 

Opening Remarks:

Good afternoon. You received the news from today’s meeting. We had several reports from our Competition Committee, International Committee, Diversity Committee, Health and Safety Committee and our NFL Foundation. We had a busy day with several updates and several lengthy discussions.

In 2014, we will be playing three games in London. Jacksonville, Atlanta and Oakland will be the host teams in each of the three of those games. We continued on our focus on improving and investing in our stadiums with approvals in Cleveland, Washington and with the Minneapolis lease. We are continuing to invest in our stadiums. That is great for fans, great for our game and ultimately great for our players too.

Our Super Bowl Advisory Committee met yesterday and again today at lunch. We have three cities that will be competing to host Super Bowl XLVII – New Orleans, Minneapolis and Indianapolis. That decision will be made in May 2014.

At the opening of the meetings, I shared my perspective for 10 or 15 minutes about where the NFL is. I shared with the owners that I have not, in my 32 years of being involved with the NFL, seen the league in a stronger position. Our game is more popular. It is more competitive. It is safer and you can see how it continues to grow. We have a great foundation to do that. It is our collective responsibility to take the necessary steps to see that growth. We are in a very good position to do that and we are excited about our future.

Q&A Session:

On whether the Redskins name should be changed:

I have said since the Super Bowl that, by no means, growing up in Washington, D.C. as a Redskins fan, have I ever considered it derogatory. That is how Redskins fans look at it. The Redskins have always presented it as part of their tradition and history. ‘Hail to the Redskins’ is part of that tradition. Whenever you have a situation like this you have to listen and recognize that some other people will have different perspectives. Clearly there are cases where that is true here. That is what I have suggested. I have been open about it, that we need to carefully listen and make sure we are doing what is right.

On President Barack Obama’s comments about the Redskins name:

That is reflective of what I just said, which is that there are different views. I do not speak for the President, and would not dare to do so. He is acknowledging that there are different views, and people should listen and people should think clearly about what they do.

On whether a third game in London means the city is a viable option to host a permanent franchise:

That is not our objective. Our objective is to continue the growth of our game internationally. What we are so pleased about is that our game continues to grow and fans want more, television broadcasters want more and sponsors want more. We are responding to that interest in the game because fans want to see it. This is just another step down that path. We are making sure we can bring more football to more people. The UK fans have been terrific. Seeing over 500,000 people the day before the game at a rally is really extraordinary. It is a signal that there is real interest in our game internationally. If it ultimately gets to that point it is a different issue. We have a lot of steps to go before we are at that position.

On whether he believes London is a potential home city:

Sure, you could view it as a potential home city but a lot would have to happen before that could take place.

On whether there is a meeting between the NFL and the Oneida Indian Nation:

There may have been discussions between some of the owners but not on the floor. It was not an open discussion. For the Oneida meeting that is something [NFL Senior Vice President of Labor Policy & Government Affairs] Adolpho Birch has been managing. I do not know what the status of that is, if that has been scheduled. When it is scheduled, we will discuss who will attend and whether it is important for me to meet in the first meeting or the second meeting or some other meeting in the future.

On whether Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder will be involved in the meetings:

I have no idea. You will have to ask Adolpho if something has been scheduled or who has been scheduled to attend. I do not know.

On whether he feels Snyder should attend the meeting:

Again, I do not know what the meeting is intended to do. I am not asking for the meeting. I believe the Oneida Nation has asked for the meeting.

On whether Snyder should attend:

It is not my meeting. I am not calling for the meeting. I think they will make clear who they think should be in attendance.

On whether it seems the Redskins are listening to outside opinions:

I am confident the Redskins are listening. I am confident that they are sensitive to their fans and to the views of people that are not their fans. I am very confident they are listening.

On the quality of the games played as part of the Thursday Night Footballschedule:

We started off with a blockbuster game, which is probably not what you are referring to. Injuries: I have made this point over and over again. We have monitored the injuries and we are not seeing any elevation of injuries during the Thursday night games. There is just no evidence of that. As far as the quality of the game, from time to time we have games that are not as good as others. That happens sometimes. Since you only have one a week, it is pretty hard to draw conclusions after four or five games.

On whether Thursday Night Football games are generating high interest and ratings:

Since we broadcasted our first Thursday night game on the NFL Network the ratings have more than doubled by a considerable amount. It is rating up there with the top programs in cable television. People want to watch it and people are excited about Thursday Night Football. It is our job to build Thursday Night Football and make it: ‘This is where you want to be on Thursday.’

On discussion of reducing preseason or expanding postseason at the Fall League Meeting:

I mentioned this in my opening that I thought we needed to continue to evaluate the quality of the preseason. I have been very open about that I don’t think it matches the quality of what we do in the NFL and we have to address that. That could mean less preseason games. It could mean other changes that we want to evaluate with respect to the preseason; same with the postseason. How do we continue to make sure the regular season games are incredibly important each week? But also: how can we create more interest, and does expanding the postseason allow other teams to get into the dance with the potential of going on and winning the Super Bowl? That is a good thing for fans. It is a good thing competitively. What has happened is our league is so competitive right now. The games are so close that is realistic to think that a team can have a great second half, get into the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. We have seen it.  We want to continue to keep all of it on the table. The Competition Committee is going to look at that. I discussed it in my opening. The Competition Committee said that was one of the priorities they are going to be focusing on in 2014.

On the earliest possible expanded playoffs format:

Well, there is a lot to be done. First, we have to make the recommendation. It would probably be the 2015 season because there are a lot of scheduling issues in the spring of next year. I don’t think we have everything resolved, including talking to the NFLPA, and making sure that is done the right way.

On if the Super Bowl would be played in mid-February:

Not necessarily. What we’re talking about is adding two teams. So you might have three games on the first weekend and this is probably more of the issues that need to be addressed. How do you schedule that? Do you have three games on Saturday and three games on Sunday? Do you have two on Friday, two on Saturday two on Sunday? Do you go into Monday? There are competitive consequences in there and television consequences. Again, if we do this, we want to do it right, so we have to evaluate all those issues and balance them.

On if a reduced preseason could be implemented earlier than 2015-16:

I really don’t think we could make that change for ‘14. Our teams go out with ticket packages as early as November so we really don’t have an awful lot of time. We want to do it thoughtfully and we want to do it carefully. So that’s going to take some committees to address it. Then we have to get together as a league again to do that and it also includes a lot of negotiation with our broadcast partners, our players and a lot of partners.

On a recent poll that fans don’t want the Redskins franchise name to change:

You just said four out of five don’t want to change the name, right? The fans don’t want it to change. I’m trying to make the point that fans feel strongly about the name. They feel passionate about it. They think it represents positives and pride and tradition. There are differing views out there and all of us have to be respectful and understand that. We all want to do things to honor people and not to do anything in a negative way.

On if he has any plans to watch the PBS documentary tonight:

No I will be traveling back tonight.

On if he has any reaction to the claims in the documentary:

It would be hard for me to react to it when I haven’t seen it. I have been a little busy today, I’ve been tied up in a meeting since eight o’clock this morning.

On if he expects the league to be free of blackouts all year:

Our blackout rate has been I believe below 5% for roughly the last eight or nine years, and that’s reflective of the clubs doing a lot of hard work. They’re working hard to market their team, they’re doing a lot of work to make sure that they make it exciting to come to our stadiums. That’s reflective of the hard work our clubs are putting forth. I don’t know whether there will be a blackout. I think the trend is obviously a very positive thing. We’d love to have a season with no blackouts, but it’s very positive that it’s a very small amount in any case.

On if there is a possibility of an 18-game season:

Everything’s on the table. You know that we agreed in our Collective Bargaining Agreement that we wouldn’t do that unless we thought it was right and that we could do it with the players’ approval. It could come up in negotiations in the future. I saw some reports recently that it was being discussed and revisited but that’s not accurate. Our focus has been on the preseason and post season.

On progress regarding Los Angeles franchise:

We did have a report on that today as part of our stadium development, and we’re actively looking for a solution. We would like to get back to Los Angeles. It’s imperative that we do it successfully if we do. We don’t have that solution right now, but we know there are millions of fans there who would like us to get back there as a franchise, and we would like to do that. The stadium is a key component of that. It’s a foundation for that, and we haven’t found the right solution for that yet.

On if there is a preferred site in LA:

No. Everyone likes to say this site or that site is a preferred site. We want a site that works. We want a site that’s going to produce that success that we talked about, and that’s the ultimate objective.

On his response to allegations of the NFL covering up concussion information:

We’ve just settled litigation on several thousand concussion cases where there are similar charges. We don’t mislead our players. We have led the way over the last three decades in trying to make sure that there is a greater focus on this, to get medicine and science involved, and try to make improvements in our game. We have and we are proud of that. Our focus is to make the game safer today and moving forward. That’s what we can really impact, and we have. Also with rule changes and the equipment changes, the investment in research. You know medicine – it’s not unusual to have disputes in the medical community and that’s encouraged in the medical community. That’s how science evolves. That’s how science progresses. That’s important. We invest in that and in pioneering research so that we do find new discoveries, new ways to either prevent injury from occurring or when it does happen, to treat it.  I have been travelling around quite a bit and I have seen the progress is being made, particularly in the treatment area and that is exciting and that’s what we are investing in.