Commissioner Goodell: “We have to do everything we can to remove HGH from the game”

Commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated the importance of HGH testing in a wide-ranging interview this morning on the Mike and Mike Show on ESPN Radio.

“When you talk about player health and safety, clearly, removing HGH and all performance-enhancing drugs from our game or performance enhancing drugs has to be high on the list,” Commissioner Goodell said. “It sends the wrong message to other players not only in the NFL but down throughout the game of football and beyond football into other sports.  They are shooting themselves up with things that they don’t know where it came from; they don’t know what it is and we don’t know the health consequences of it long term.  We have to do everything we can to remove that from the game for player health and safety and second of all for the integrity of the game.

“We are going to continue to work to try to get this implemented,” Commissioner Goodell continued. “We have a commitment from both sides as part of the collective bargaining agreement to get this done.  I am disappointed it is not being done for the start of the regular season, but I am going to continue to work at it.”

Commissioner Goodell also said there is no disputing the validity of the test.

“There is a proper test,” he said.  “WADA is implementing it in the Olympics.  It is being used in Minor League Baseball.  It is being used in sports throughout the world, obviously cycling where it has gotten a lot of attention.  The test is developed to such a point where the technology is such that the window of detection has expanded to a point where it is more reasonable to detect the use of HGH.  As that technology evolves, we have to evolve and so does the policy.  It is appropriate and I think the Players Association agrees that it is appropriate to implement that.  I hope we can get that done quickly.”

Following is the complete interview transcript:

On fantasy football:

Unfortunately, I am not allowed to play fantasy football, but it has certainly been a great way for our fans to engage with the game.  I hear so much about families being able to play fantasy football together and friends.  It is a great way to use the game of football to bring people together.

On reflecting on the lockout and NBA Commissioner David Stern’s comment that missing games during the 1998 NBA lockout:

I would agree with David.  It is true for any commissioner.  It is the most painful period of time because you want to bring your sport to the fans.  It is a necessary part of your job.  It is important to get it right so that it works for the players and the clubs so you can make the game right for the fans.

It is a grueling process.  It was extremely difficult, but we came through it the right way.  We got it done with the right kind of outcome, and we didn’t interfere with the fans’ interest in the game.  That is what at the end of the day you really want to make sure that you are able to accomplish.

On negative player comments directed at him during the work stoppage:

You do your job.  Unfortunately, when you discipline players, clubs or coaches, you are not going to make everybody happy.  You do what you think is right for the game.  When you are in the midst of negotiations, you have to obviously make some tough decisions and take some positions, but I have great respect for the players.  They did an extraordinary job in the negotiations.  We dealt primarily with their Executive Committee.  They indeed did a fantastic job of representing the players.  We have a great outcome to show for it.

On negative player comments affecting him personally:

No, the fact is a lot of those players I really don’t even know personally.  It is just a part of the job.  You recognize that you are in a tough negotiation and someone is going to have to be the bad guy.  That is part of the process.  I have great respect for the players and what they do.  I am glad we are all talking about football.

On player comments regarding fines for on-field violations, specifically illegal hits:

The bottom line is it depends on which player and what position they play.  The reality is we all want to make the game safer, but we also don’t want to take anything away from the toughness of the game and why we love the game.  There are clearly changes that have happened through the decades where techniques have been taken out of the game.  They made the game safe and they made players safer and hopefully extend their careers.  That is good for them.

I recognize the reaction.  We had it back in the ‘70s when we put more protection for the quarterbacks.  You heard ‘we should just let the quarterbacks wear skirts.’  It is part of the evolution of our game, but we are going to continue to do that to make the game safer, to extend careers and continue to produce high-quality football.  When you look at the ratings, you look at the attendance and you look at the passion for our game, they are all on the rise so it is obviously working in a positive way.

On new rules placing kickoffs to the 35-yard line and future modifications to it:

As you know, we study the rules every year.  We follow them very closely through the season in our Competition Committee, which is made up of general managers, owners and coaches.  We will review it and make a recommendation to the full membership.  I am certain that this is one that they will review at the end of the year.

The genesis of the rule is to take a play that we have had significant injuries in and try to make it safer.  I don’t think we have solved the problem here, but we have made the play safer by taking some of the kickoff returns out of the game.  It is the intent of the rule.  You will see more touchbacks as a result of this rule.  We knew that when we passed the rule.  We felt it was the right thing to do.  We are going to still continue to look for ways to make that play safer but also try to create the excitement out of the play.

On the status of HGH testing:

I spoke to (NFLPA Executive Director) De(Maurice) Smith over the weekend.  He is continuing to work with his Executive Committee.  We were up in Montreal visiting the WADA officials two weeks ago with my staff – I was there – and De had his staff there.  It was important for us to understand how we can continue to take a leadership position with respect to performance enhancing drugs.

When you talk about player health and safety, clearly, removing HGH and all performance-enhancing drugs from our game or performance enhancing drugs has to be high on the list.  It sends the wrong message to other players not only in the NFL but down throughout the game of football and beyond football into other sports.  They are shooting themselves up with things that they don’t know where it came from; they don’t know what it is and we don’t know the health consequences of it long term.  We have to do everything we can to remove that from the game for player health and safety and second of all for the integrity of the game.

We are going to continue to work to try to get this implemented.  We have a commitment from both sides as part of the collective bargaining agreement to get this done.  I am disappointed it is not being done for the start of the regular season, but I am going to continue to work at it.

On the NFL and NFLPA needing to agree on a proper test for HGH:

There is a proper test.  WADA is implementing it in the Olympics.  It is being used in Minor League Baseball.  It is being used in sports throughout the world, obviously cycling where it has gotten a lot of attention.  The test is developed to such a point where the technology is such that the window of detection has expanded to a point where it is more reasonable to detect the use of HGH.  As that technology evolves, we have to evolve and so does the policy.  It is appropriate and I think the Players Association agrees that it is appropriate to implement that.  I hope we can get that done quickly.

On the NFL’s role in enforcing NCAA violations, specifically in relation to Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor’s five-game suspension:

The NCAA has to establish its own rules and to enforce its own rules.  What we have is eligibility rules.  What we have to do is make sure that our eligibility rules are going to be upheld.  In this ruling, it wasn’t subsequent; it was part of the condition that you will serve a five-game suspension.  I don’t want players coming in from the college level who are trying to avoid a suspension, declare themselves ineligible on their own, hire an agent and decide ‘I’m going to enter into the NFL.’  We think they have a responsibility to respect the rules of the NFL and their eligibility and to finish out their college careers, and when they are eligible, enter the draft.  We would like them to enter the draft not the supplemental draft.  That made another important distinction here.

On Colts consultant Jim Tressel’s team-imposed six-game suspension:

We were obviously advised that Coach Tressel was hired as the gameday consultant.  We did speak to the team over the weekend.  They made a determination not to allow him to start coaching until Week 7.  I support that decision.  I think it is a wise one.

On if he would have considered a fine or suspension for Tressel if the Colts did not take action:

I didn’t have to get to that point, but I think it was clear that if they did not take an appropriate action that I would have taken action.

On if the NFL has a role in enforcing NCAA policies:

We have eligibility rules that we have to evaluate when someone applies for the supplemental draft.  That is the decision we had to make.  It is important that we uphold those eligibility rules because we do not want to see enlarged numbers of college players saying, ‘I am ineligible.  I am going to come forward and escape either for reasons of discipline on the college level or any other reason that I am going to join the NFL because I would prefer to go to the NFL now.’  We think it is important for young men to stay in college football for as long as possible and certainly be part of the formal education system because they are not going to play football forever and a lot of these guys may never play at the NFL level.  That college education can be helpful to them.

On the significance of playing games on the 10th anniversary of 9/11:

It is a very important weekend obviously for our country and even our world.  The NFL played an important role back after the 9/11 tragedy.  Properly recognizing what has happened and paying tribute to obviously the victims, their families and the first responders, we know we can play a role in doing that where we can help the country heal in some fashion.  We hope to be able to play that role this weekend by properly honoring those who lost their lives, their family members and all of the first responders and the courage that they demonstrated.  You will see this weekend that we will do it in a way that properly respects the tremendous sacrifices that people made around 9/11.

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