NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell – Media Availability at Hall of Fame

NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL
2014 HALL OF FAME FESTIVITIES – CANTON, OHIO
AUGUST 1, 2014

On how excited are you for the Hall of Fame weekend:

This is a great weekend, which I told the Hall of Famers this morning. Not just because you get to spend time with the Hall of Famers, and we celebrate their great contribution to the game, but also inducting a new class, and we have a great new class. But it’s also a sign the NFL season is starting soon and that’s exciting for all of us.

On the details regarding the Ray Rice situation that ultimately decided the two-game suspension:

Our policy is clear on this. We have a very firm policy that domestic violence is not acceptable in the NFL and that there will be consequences for that.  When we’re going through the process of evaluating the issue and whether there will be discipline, you look at all of the facts that you have available to us. Law enforcement normally has more – on a normal basis – has more information, facts, than we have. We’ll get as much as we possibly can. And then you also have the opportunity to sit down with the individual, and maybe others, to determine how that individual is reacting to it. I think what’s important here is that Ray has taken responsibility for this. He’s been accountable for his actions. He recognizes he made a horrible mistake, that it is unacceptable, by his standards and by our standards. And he’s got to work to re-establish himself. The criminal justice system, as you know, put him in a diversionary program with no discipline, and we felt it was appropriate to have discipline, and to continue counseling programs and to continue our education work. And I was also very impressed with Ray in the sense that Ray not only is accepting this issue, and saying how it was wrong, but he’s saying “I want to make a powerful difference in this area.” I think you heard from him yesterday. He is a young man that really understands the mistake he made and he is out and about and determined to make a positive difference.

On reactions to the Rice suspension from the public:

When we make decisions we always get reactions. We understand that, we listen to it, and we use it to make ourselves better. We’re comfortable with that and we understand that.

On the precedent that prior suspensions set in making decisions:

We have to remain consistent. We can’t just make up the discipline, it has to be consistent with other cases, and it was in this manner.

On criticism of the suspension based on the NFL’s drug-related suspensions:

You have to deal with the facts. We have a drug program that is collectively bargained and it has a step process. It takes four incidents before you actually reach a suspension in a drug-related case. You have to respond to facts here. You have a lot of people voicing their opinions, but what you have to understand is that this is a young man who made a terrible mistake – it’s inconsistent with what we’re all about. We have dealt with it in a serious manner, and we’re very confident that this young man understands where he is and what he needs to do going forward.

On the Josh Gordon case and any extenuating circumstances surrounding it:

Well there’s a process that he’s going through right now. An appeal is actually being heard today. They’ll make a decision based on the information that is exchanged today.

On consistency in punishment:

Ray Rice did not have another incident. There were several cases, as you know, and a series of incidents in other cases and we take that into account. If it is a first offense and someone has had a strong background of being responsible in the community, doing the right things, not violating either policies or anything else that would reflect poorly on the NFL, then we take that into account. When there is a pattern, we also take that into account on the other side.

On Buffalo Bills sale process:

I’ll be getting an update next week. But we’ve obviously had first bids that were submitted this week. They are moving into the second phase, exchanging more information with all of the candidates. I do not know how many people remain in that process. That’s not something I may ever know. It seems like it’s proceeding on a normal basis.

On his thoughts regarding only three bidders:

I don’t know if there are only three bidders. Do you know that?

On if talking to Ray Rice’s wife reduced the suspension:

No. I take into account all the information before I make a decision on what the discipline will be. In this case there was no discipline taken by the criminal justice system – they placed him in a diversionary program. I had seen Ray after that and I had the opportunity to hear from him, hear from his wife and hear from other people he had brought into the hearing process and I put all that together to make the decision.

On whether there are facts the media does not know about that led to a two-game suspension for Rice:

I had the opportunity as the commissioner to hear directly from him. That is helpful and it is important for me to be able to do that. What I want to see are success stories. I want to see people when they make mistakes, see them take responsibility, be accountable and make a difference going forward. I hope that is what Ray Rice is going to do.

On the future direction of the Hall of Fame and David Baker’s leadership:

I am excited. I have known David [Baker] for 15 years. I have had the opportunity to work with him with the Arena Football League. When this position became available, he was an outstanding candidate. He has a great vision but he also knows how to make it happen. We are excited about that.

On whether the league will do more to bring awareness to and support domestic violence victims:

Yes, but not only in domestic violence issues but other issues that we think are important for the league to support.

On what he knows about the Josh Gordon situation:

Josh is going through the process right now. I am not a part of that process. At some point in time, I may have an opportunity to be involved. When I am, I look forward to meeting with him.

On the FCC and blackouts:

The FCC has said that they are considering views on this issue. They have it on the table and they are discussing whether they will make a decision sometime possibly this fall. What we are trying to do is keep the program in place because it has worked for several decades. We are the only sport on free television and we believe that staying on free television is good for consumers. There are 60 million people and growing, including a lot of minorities, that are watching NFL football on free television and we want to keep it that way. We are concerned that a change in this area, we are 99 percent sold out, so it has very little impact on our business, but it could have an impact on the overall business model for free television. We think that’s devastating to our consumers and consumers in general.

On disciplining players mentioned in the Ted Wells Report:

There are different issues with different individuals. The bottom line is everything is proceeding and they are doing everything they have been asked to do. We will make individual decisions, if necessary, with any one of those individuals.

On the chances discipline could occur before the start of the season:

It’s a broad issue. I would say the one person that has been very responsive and gone through the program is Richie Incognito. We are working with his people and monitoring his progress and it’s gone well.

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