Transcript: Commissioner Goodell 2013 Spring League Meeting

NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL
2013 SPRING LEAGUE MEETING
BOSTON, MASS. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 

Opening statement: 

When you think about what is going on in Oklahoma and what we are doing here, it is hard to think about the tragic events. Certainly, our prayers and all of us are thinking about the people of Oklahoma. 

We discussed a number of stadium matters.  We approved a new stadium in Atlanta and our funding for that and renovations in Carolina and Philadelphia.  We had a productive day on that front and spent a great deal of time talking about the stadium experience, which we have been very upfront that we want to improve that experience, make it better for our fans.  That starts with an investment and making sure we have great stadiums, but it is also about making sure our fans are safe when they come into our stadiums.  It also goes to the point of trying to provide technology in the stadiums and making sure we are doing everything to make it a terrific experience for our fans. 

On selecting San Francisco to host Super Bowl L: 

It’s a great city.  They have a terrific stadium.  They have obviously put together a proposal that got a great deal of support from our membership.  They deserve the Super Bowl.  We’re thrilled to be a part of that, and I think it’s going to be great for the game. 

On the ‘international flavor’ of Houston’s Super Bowl bid: 

It was a very innovative approach. I think it’s reflective of the people of Houston, how they feel about their community, and what they want to celebrate.  We always say the Super Bowl is a great event, but doing it with great cities and doing it with great stadiums really has an opportunity to be great for the community and the NFL for the long term.  That’s what we’re looking to when we look at Super Bowl [bids]. This is an opportunity to take the NFL to another level and the great communities we are playing in.

On San Francisco’s Super Bowl L bid:

There are people in there [club executives] that looked at the quality of the stadium.  They spent a great deal of time talking about that.  They talked about it being an important part our country right now, where so much innovation is coming from.  There are so many great young companies and companies that are changing the world that want to be a part of this game.  That was very attractive to our owners. 

On the role the condition of Sun Life Stadium played in South Florida not being awarded a Super Bowl:  

There are 32 perspectives.  The stadium is a very important part of any of these proposals.  A couple of owners did express to me privately that the condition of the stadium was an important factor to them in their votes. But again, I don’t know all 32 owners’ perspectives on that. 

On what it will take for Miami to get back into the Super Bowl rotation in the future:  

I think it is the stadium at the end of the day.  Their proposal was really quite exciting.  They talked an awful lot about the great history and tradition we have with the Super Bowls in Miami and I think the owners would like to be in Miami, but it is competitive right now.  We have great stadiums coming on board that we haven’t even played an NFL game yet that are going to be hosting a Super Bowl [and] others that are investing significantly to make sure their stadium is state of the art and is a great platform stage for the Super Bowl.  That is what we want. 

On when the next process will begin for awarding future Super Bowls: 

We did talk to our committee yesterday about that.  I expect we would be awarding another Super Bowl at the meeting next May. We will go back to the normal rotation of doing one a year. 

On the possible changes to the date of the NFL Draft and the offseason calendar:  

For clarity purposes, there are really in some ways two distinct issues.  The draft is something – within certain parameters – that is the decision of the commissioner as far as the date.  Next year, Radio City Music Hall, which is the host of our draft, is bringing on a spring event, which I think the focus is on Easter.  It extends to a much later date and interferes with the date when we normally hold the draft.  At this late stage for us to do it the right way, we don’t see having any choice but to move the date.  We are looking at whether we can do it as early as May 8, 9 or 10 to the 15th, 16th, and 17th of May.  We really don’t – and we talked about this with the membership – see any choice, at least for 2014, but to select one of those two dates.  We will be doing that sometime in the next week.  Beyond that, if we want to move the draft back into the April period, we are going to have to look at other alternatives which mean other cities, other venues.  We will begin that process also.  

On the other events, and I assume you mean moving the combine potentially and some of the other events, we think there are great benefits to that.  We did not reach any conclusion.  We are negotiating that with the union.  We have a discussion with them sometime in the next couple of weeks and I am sure that will come up.  We think that is a good change for fans and for football. 

On the NFLPA only having to sign off on a change to the start of the league year:  

I think that is fair [statement]; within reason, yes. 

On wanting the NFLPA to be on board with all potential changes:  

Sure.  This is not secretive.  We share what the overall strategy is and what we are trying to accomplish with the players. We went to them initially to do that, to get their feedback.  We want to make sure we do it right and that includes getting player input. 

On the league not being able to go back to April in the future to hold the draft because of an annual event at Radio City:  

As long as Radio City has an event, that is my understanding, but that is something Radio City would have to address.  My understanding is that, like their Christmas show, they are doing an Easter show. 

On the NFL Draft conflicting with the Radio City Easter show each year: 

It goes beyond Easter as it does next year so it does conflict with our dates. 

On having the draft at other venues:

We did that and we have done that.  To date, the experience we have had, particularly with the event growing as popular, the sites we have been in the past, I am not sure we would look at again. We think we have found a location in New York that meets our requirements and where we think we can continue to grow the event.  If we do, that will be one of the alternatives.  One of the things we will have to do, at some point, is to look at other cities. 

On the anticipated date for Super Bowls L and LI: 

I don’t know the answer to that question.  We are holding multiple dates. 

On possibly hosting a Super Bowl in Boston: 

It is a great city.  We stress this over and over again.  We are holding our first northern site Super Bowl at the end of this season.  We want to see what that experience is like.  

It is more than just a game now.  I keep emphasizing that.  This is a week-long event.  We have multiple events that need multiple facilitates.  We are at [a need for] well over 25,000 hotel rooms now.  This is a great city.  If there is an interest at some point in time and we decide to look at open-air northern site Super Bowl cities, I assume the Patriots will look at that. 

On playoff expansion: 

We asked the Competition Committee to look at it.  There was a lot of discussion.  We had a report briefly at the March meeting.  We are going to continue to have more dialogue with the Players Association, which is a big part of that discussion, and the second is with broadcast partners.  Yes, we are continuing discussions on that but not today.

On the future of the Pro Bowl, including the site:

We committed to Hawaii, as you know, for the 2014 [Pro Bowl] game.  It will be the week before the Super Bowl.  Our intention is to keep it in that time period.  We think that it works well from a season standpoint and finishing the season on a high note with the Super Bowl.  There is interest in potentially bringing it back to the mainland in multiple sites as early as the following year. 

The big focus we have had now is how to make the game more exciting from a fan’s perspective.  One of the concepts that was discussed today is the idea that the players are selected as they are now with a vote from players, coaches and fans but the actual teams are drafted by captains.  That is an idea that came from our players.  We are continuing to have dialogue with the players on that idea.  We think it is exciting.  It could have some fun attached to it.  It is something we may do this season.

On the NFL’s partnership with Microsoft and the in-stadium fan experience: 

[It helps] in multiple ways, and it is not just the Microsoft agreement.  One of the things that we updated our membership on today was our mobile partnership, which is currently with Verizon, and where we are with those discussions. Also we talked about where we are with trying to use the technology that Microsoft can bring to the table, that Verizon can bring to the table, and other technology partners to make the experience in the stadium better.  We have to solve the Wi-Fi problem and the DAS problem, which is to try to bring in more capacity so people can use their phones and their mobile devices in our stadiums. We want to be able to use that content in the stadiums to give them unique experiences.  That is the really key thing for us.  We want to make that experience in the stadium the best ever.  I believe there is nothing better than being at an NFL stadium with 75,000 people excited and passionate about their team and about the game.  From using scoreboards to using technology that Microsoft can help with by creating more interactive experiences that they will be doing on XBOX that we might be able to do with mobile devices in the near future, we are going to allow fans to have a better experience to stay connected. This is even when they are at their games with their fantasy football teams, for example, or following what is going on around the league and watching highlights from other games.  We will use the scoreboards for that, but we will also allow them to use their mobile devices.  We think mobile is a huge opportunity for our fans to get closer to the game and a huge opportunity for the NFL. 

 On the options to modify the structure of the NFL season: 

[The options] are all on the table.  As I have said before, I think the structure of the season is something that we consistently reevaluate.  I have been quite open about [indicating that] we have to address the quality of the preseason.  I hear from fans consistently that they want to make every NFL event more valuable.  They see the preseason as being less valuable to them because they don’t see the best players and the games do not count.  We have to address that, whether we are looking at 18 [regular-season games] and two [preseason games] or 16-and-two and expanded playoffs.  They are all on the table and things we are going to evaluate. 

On whether the recent issues with Titus Young re-emphasize the need for strong player engagement activities from the NFL: 

We had a brief report from [Vice President of Player Engagement] Troy Vincent on that today.  We look at our players from a total wellness standpoint.  It is not just their physical wellness; it is also their mental wellness.  What can we do to try to make sure that we are helping our players make the transitions through life [successfully] and to make sure they are getting the type of help that they need at any point?  Today, one of the focuses was the cut-down process, as an example.  How do we make the process more dignified?  It is in some cases the last experience that a player has with a team or any team in the NFL.  We have to do a better job of doing that in a humane way and a way that will make sure they understand the perspective we have for them and the pride we have in what they have accomplished.  We have to make sure that they understand what they will be experiencing once they separate from a NFL team and make sure they have the services that are available to them, which we provide and we think can be incredibly valuable to them. 

On the league’s next steps in expanding internationally: 

Much to the disappointment of my staff when they told me the two games in London were sold out, I said, ‘Okay, what’s next and what can we do to continue our progress, in the UK in particular and internationally in general?’  There are multiple things that our committee is doing and they reported on that today.  Potentially going to three games is one alternative. [We are also looking at] what other opportunities we would want to take place in the marketplace that could further the advancement of football.  Would we want to expand our television coverage in some fashion so that we could continue to develop fans?  All of those things [are options].  We are going to be aggressive because we see the fans’ reactions to football and we want to be there on a more regular basis. 

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