Transcript: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Annual Meeting Press Conference – March 24, 2014

NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL
NFL ANNUAL MEETING
RITZ-CARLTON ORLANDO GRANDE LAKES
ORLANDO, FLORIDA

MARCH 24, 2014

On Jim Irsay getting treatment and also potential discipline:

That’s the first priority. He is seeking help and he has done that voluntarily. That’s the most important step, at least initially. To my knowledge, I’ve been in a room all day today, but there are no formal charges at this point. We obviously will want to understand the facts before we take any steps as it relates to any discipline. Obviously, any policies or any laws that are broken – whether you are commissioner, owner, player or coach – subjects you to discipline.

On disciplining other players named in Ted Wells report:

Our focus right now, at least in the case of three players, is that they would be evaluated. We’ve talked with the union several times about that and we agreed that was the right step. Once they’ve been evaluated, the medical professionals – joint medical professionals – will make a determination whether any treatment is necessary and it will be a requirement that they fulfill that.

On if suspension is possible:

The first thing is to get the evaluation and determine what the treatment is. Depending on what the doctors prescribe, that could prevent them from being a part of football for some period of time. But that is a medical decision.

On the Raiders stadium situation:

Mark (Davis) is closer to the matter than I am. I know our staff was engaged last year with the Raiders. I haven’t gotten an update on that in quite a while on that. I know they signed an extension and we actually approved that today –a one-year extension. So there have been some obviously positive discussions. What that means for the future – I don’t know.

On resolution that enables teams to cover some seats:

It is to give our teams flexibility and to be able to manage their season ticket bases and their individual ticket sales. That’s all changed a lot. Technology has changed that. We are working harder to keep our stadiums full. We were fortunate to have 99 percent of our stadiums full this year. That is something we are going to have to continue to work on. These kinds of policies are fan friendly in the sense that they allow our teams more flexibility so that games can be shown on television and we can make our games more accessible in the stadium. We want out fans in the stadium and we think that experience is the best experience.

On Mark Cuban’s comments regarding the NFL:

I didn’t see his comments. Monday night football has been around since 1970. Sunday Night Football [on NBC] has been around since 2006 and so has Thursday night. We’ve taken a very incremental and thoughtful approach to how we take more games to a national platform. That’s been, in large part, driven by our fans. The fans want those games. We went from six games on Thursday night, to eight, to 13, to now 16. We see the reaction of the fans. We see the reaction by the ratings and the viewership levels and we see the reaction of the media companies who say ‘This is terrific, this is something.’ We’ve moved – in this case on Thursday night – to a broadcast platform. An even bigger platform to allow more fans to enjoy the game. I think this is very thoughtful and strategic and frankly it’s a response to the fans. That’s what we’re interested in. We are focusing on our strategy and our fans and how we serve them better.

On Jim Irsay being on various committees and his influence at these meetings:

Jim is serving on quite a few committees. He is someone that’s grown up in this league. We’re, I think, the identical age so we sort of grew up in this league together. He is someone that loves this game and he brings an important perspective to it, but that’s not the priority right now. The priority is for Jim to take care of the issues he is facing and deal with it. He also has a great organization that he is proud of and three girls that are very capable, smart and effective and they are in the room.

On the NFLPA saying the 18-game schedule will not happen on their watch and if the NFL is still considering it:

We’ve always said that in the Collective Bargaining Agreement we would negotiate those issues. When the right time comes, we’ll have the discussions of whatever we think is the right season structure is. We have had discussions about the expanded postseason. We will likely have more.

We have a meeting on April 8 with the union and some of their representatives, primarily to talk about the workplace. I have been involved in our staff – led by Troy Vincent primarily – with I believe 40 players from nine different teams since early January talking about our workplace; talking about what we need to do to make sure we have a workplace that we’re all proud of. Those have been very productive and this will be an important meeting with the union.

On how effective the league’s initiatives been on player safety and if there is more work to be done in that area:

They’ve been very effective and the evidence was clear today. You’ve seen some of the injury data. We released it around the Super Bowl. We went through that in greater detail with the outside firm that’s been tracking that for us and it’s very clear that the rule changes we have made had the positive impact that we intended. While there are some that say it has had a negative (impact) – as an example, ACL injuries being up – that’s not the case. What we’ve seen is that players have adjusted to the rules and they are finding that target zone and it is a safer, better game because of it. The Competition Committee spent a lot of time studying that over the last two months and the report I got yesterday when meeting with the committee is that we think the changes have been very effective and have led to a better game.

On specific things he would like to see change in the locker room in regards to the Miami Dolphins incident or simply not wanting to hear any more problems:

I won’t address it that way. Let me try to tell you what we’re doing. We’ve been meeting with 40 players over the last three months. I’ve had numerous meetings with the Dolphins. We’ve met with outside professionals. We have met with other organizations that have dealt with similar issues. We’re trying to get as much input as possible. This is a culture change and something that, while modifying policies from time-to-time are important, is more about people understanding the importance of a professional workplace where there is respect for everybody – whether that is a teammate, an opponent, game officials – and we have to provide that. We will modify our policies, but more importantly, we want to engage with our players and with our coaches, which we are doing here this week to make sure that we are making the right decision long-term. I think we will.

On the league having any input on the firings of offensive line coach Jim Turner and trainer Kevin O’Neill in Miami:

No, those are decisions that Steve Ross and the Dolphins made.

On if the NFL is still listening to groups that oppose the Redskins nickname and where the NFL currently stands:

We have and we will continue to do so. We have, I think, done a very thorough job of making sure that we understand all perspectives on this and we will continue to do that.

On Jim Irsay admitting himself into a rehab facility already and it having any impact on any possible discipline:

I’m not going to play the hypothetical game on that. Again, if policies and laws were violated, we have a personal conduct policy and that is important to us. It applies to everybody in the league, including ownership.

On the overview of the salary cap and where it has gone and where it is heading:

There wasn’t a significant revenue increase over that last few years. We went to the players several years ago and said we need to create a system where we invest and we have the ability to plan long-term and build those revenues. There have been, I believe,13 stadium projects that have been in progress – close to $5 billion worth of projects since the Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed. What that does is provide long-term stability. I mentioned this in our opening this morning and we discuss it frequently. We have long-term stability. We have a system that encourages us to invest. That leads to long-term increases in revenue. One of the first things we did after signing the Collective Bargaining Agreement and we told the players this is that we would go get long-term media contracts. We did that and the players are starting to see that. This is the first year of those new contracts. You’re seeing increases in revenues and they are going to see increases in cap as a result of that. They are partners in this and that’s a positive thing. There are always things in our Collective Bargaining Agreement that both sides would like to correct, but this is working as intended.

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