Takeaways From Roger Goodell’s Pre-Super Bowl Press Conference
In a year filled with Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, problems with NFLPA and now deflate-gate, Roger Goodell and the NFL are breathing a sigh of relief that it is somewhat over: but the league still has to make decisions about fining Marshawn Lynch and the latest Patriots scandal — both things he talked about later in his speech.
“Listen, it has been a tough year. It has been a tough year on me personally. It’s been a year of what I would say humility and learning. We obviously as an organization have gone through adversity, but more importantly it has been adversity for me.” And they have made enormous progress with their policies on domestic abuse, pending criminal charges and, despite controversy, reducing concussion rate — from 173 in 2012 to 111 reported cases in 2014. Goodell even claimed they planned to hire a chief medical officer to analyze all league policies concerning player’s health: something that should have been done years ago, but it still is a step in the right direction. As for the problems with the NFLPA, who are angry they were not fully consulted about the league’s conduct policy changes, Goodell responded, “We will continue to work with them and to strengthen that policy.”
As for the most pressing issue, Deflate-Gate, there was really no new information about the case because it is still a pending investigation. At the same time, he declared, “This is my job. This is my responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. I represent 32 teams. All of us want to make sure the rules are being followed.”
But when Rachel Nichols questioned him on the “conflict of interest” when hiring league paid individuals to investigate, Goodell quickly shot her down. “I don’t agree with you on the assumption you make in your question. I think we hired people that had uncompromising integrity… Ted Wells integrity is impeccable. These are professionals that bring an outside expertise and an outside perspective… Someone has to pay them and unless you are volunteering Rachel, which I don’t think you are, we will continue to pay them.”
Now, beside this the Commissioner touched upon a variety of other issues including next year’s London schedule, the lawsuit with the New Orleans Saints owner, Marshawn Lynch, the St. Louis Rams moving to Los Angeles, Richard Sherman’s knock on him for being in Robert Kraft’s pocket, replays for penalties, expansion of the playoffs and a change to the extra point.
Out of all that, the most interesting stuff begins with Goodell’s negative remarks about Marshawn Lynch, basically stating that his behavior was unacceptable. “I’ve been very clear that when you’re in the NFL you have an obligation to the fans. It’s part of your job. There are things we all have to do in our jobs we may not necessarily want to do. I think Marshawn understands the importance of the Super Bowl, the importance of his appearance and the importance of him as an individual in this game.” And the league’s office will look into fining him for wearing the Beast Mode hat despite it being under the New Era brand — but no decision about this will be made until after the Super Bowl.
As for the Rams, he does not believe they will move: whenever a team has a change of venue it is about the current city first. On top of this, he seemed bothered by Sherman’s criticism of his relationship with Patriots owner. But he certainly did not believe he was at fault: “Professionally I have a relationship with him and I also admire and respect and think very highly of him on a personal level.”
Finally, each rule charge will be carefully observed in the offseason: reviewing penalties could happen if it does not slow down the game — something that has already happened with the over-abundance of secondary penalties. Also, the expansion of the playoffs is being carely considered, but there are some that are against it: making the possibility of a change a huge question mark. As for the removing/reinventing the extra point, several news organization speculated that Goodell’s speech made it sound like a change was forthcoming.