Goodell/Rich McKay/Dean Blandino Press Conference
Goodell: Since I was here
yesterday, there were two key areas of focus in the room. One is continuing our
focus on the game presentation -- the efforts with the packages that we have,
both from a football standpoint, as well as a media standpoint, to make the game
presentation for our fans even more compelling than it is today. That includes
removing or lessening distractions, interruptions from our game and keeping the
focus on the action of the game.
Secondly, we spent a great
deal of time this morning on Competition Committee matters. Rich, as the
chairman, is going to go through some of those issues that we addressed today.
Some that we tabled we’ll also be able to talk to you about and why we’re
tabling them, and our focus over the next couple of months on getting those
done. But one of them I would touch on them upfront would be the player
celebrations. The committee did quite a bit of work on that. They had some
discussion this morning on that. I asked that it be tabled. I’d like to meet
with a group of players to try to get some more input from them. We also want
to do a little more work on just bringing clarity to the rule while allowing
our players more ability to express themselves to celebrate. We want to see
that. We obviously want to put in reasonable safeguards against taunting and
acts that we think reflect poorly on all of us. We believe we can do that. We
believe there’s a great deal of focus on that. I’m confident in May we’ll get
to that point.
Let me have Rich touch on
a couple of the Competition Committee matters and we’re both here to answer
Rich McKay: Let me start first with the committee and the
view on where the game is. If you’ll see our report, which I’m sure parts of it
will be passed out to you, you’ll see that in the introduction, we make the
case that the game is in a really good place. There’s two ways to look at
competition. One is margin of victory. I know you’ve seen the stat published,
but to have the third-smallest margin of victory in the history of the game is an
impressive stat for us, given the fact that the other two years that have a
lower margin are 1935 and 1932. And points per game, we were not at 45 points
per game at that time. So that’s a really good thing for us. So that’s game by
game. We look at competition, where we are in all 32. We are a very
competitively balanced league. This was another year in which, I think it’s the
27th consecutive year, in which we had at least four teams qualify for the
playoffs that didn’t qualify the year before. So, those are good stats. I have
a stat about fourth-quarter comebacks and the fact that we had 72 of them, but
I really don’t like to talk about comebacks.
I would tell you that with
respect to player safety, as a committee, we were really pleasantly surprised in
watching video that we typically don’t like to watch - which is - we watch
video of every injury, every major injury, injury type, whether it’s lower leg,
whether it’s shoulder, whether it’s head, whatever it may be. We were impressed
when we watched the tape this year and it’s a credit to our players, to our
coaches, to college football and to high school football that you are seeing
players adjust the way they play the game. And playing within the rules, and
trying to comply with changes that from a player standpoint have been hard, and
have taken time. But I think we really saw good video this year of how players
are trying to play the game well within the rules. For us that was a good thing
and something that we’ve seen coming, but I would say this year it was very
We had 15 proposals this
year, seven by clubs, three of those club proposals were withdrawn, so we voted
on the rest. We tabled one and then on the bylaws we again had three bylaws
proposed by clubs, all of which were either tabled or withdrawn, and then we
voted on a couple of the Competition Committee ones.
Mark Maske: On
the committee’s recommendation for ejection and suspensions for certain illegal
hits, is it accurate that that will be enacted as a point of emphasis if there
was no vote and can you sort of explain how you expect that to work in
Rich McKay: Yes. First
of all, as I said, I started with the idea that we liked the tape, we like it a
lot. So don’t take the fact that we’re emphasizing the potential use of
suspension for first-time offenders as we’ve got a problem. That’s not the
case. We had three or four plays that we showed to the union when we met with
the players, and that we showed to our coaches, and we said we recommend as a
committee where if the player isn’t ejected on the field, and that’s a very
difficult thing, and we don’t typically get ejections for football plays during
a game, we get ejections for other reasons but not football plays. We recommend
suspension, even for a first-time offense. Why? Because the hits were very
egregious, and we quite frankly want to get any of those hits out of the game.
We think one way to get them out of the game is suspension because we think
that is the ultimate deterrent to all players to not have those types of plays
occur. Didn’t have very many of them, don’t expect it to happen a lot. But it
was a point of emphasis, and it was something that will be looked at this year.
Kevin Acee: It
seems that no matter what happens, every once in a while people think maybe
it’s head trauma, relocation, something you do that they think is going to
really harm the NFL, that you’re going to lose fans. Nothing harms you guys,
that doesn’t happen. Do you have any concern that eventually people are going
to get tired of the teams moving or other controversies and how important is it
to you to sustain?
Goodell: We disagree
with your premise that nothing harms us. We’re a league that has a great deal
of public attention. We hold ourselves to the highest-possible standards. When
we don’t hit it, we work hard to try to get to that standard. We recognize the
trust of our fans and the fact that we’re doing things in the best long-term
interest of our game are critically important. We’re going to do those, because
they’re the right things for the NFL, and our fans, and our players. We’re
committed to doing the right things. We know that not everyone’s going to agree
with that from time to time, but we do believe that our future is bright when
we look down the path because we’re willing to make the changes that are
necessary. Game presentation is a great example of that. This is something that
we’ve been studying for the last couple of years. We now have fan research to
back it up, to help guide us, to make sure that we’re getting the right
solutions to some of these issues. This is going to make our game experience,
whether it’s in the stadium or on television, or on another device, much more
compelling. That’s what we have to do. We have to continue to try to get
better. That was really the focus of this meeting to a large extent -
innovation, getting better. Those are all things we’re going to continue to
Ben Volin: On
September 7th, the Patriots will be hosting the kickoff game. I understand it’s
five months away, but do you happen to know where you’ll be that night?
Goodell: I don’t, but I plan to be at the kickoff game.
On a more serious
Goodell: Oh, that wasn’t serious?
Back home it
certainly is. But the Raiders moved to Las Vegas. Obviously, we all know about
Las Vegas, having dozens of casinos there. Today an entrepreneur came out and
said that he plans on opening a Raiders themed brothel that has VIP access for
Raiders players. How much did the league consider some of these pitfalls when
agreeing to allow the Raiders to move to Vegas and will you work with the
Raiders to make sure – Brandon Marshall also said that putting 21-year-old kids
in Vegas near the strip can be overwhelming. How much do you plan to work with
the Raiders to help ease any of those concerns?
Goodell: We have an
obligation to do that with all 32 teams. My experience is that a 21-year-old
can find trouble in a lot of different places. That’s one of the reasons why we
have focused so much on our personal conduct policies. It’s educating, it’s
helping players make better judgments and getting them better information, they
avoid problems. These are the types of things that have been very effective. In
fact, you’ve seen over the last two years, I think you have the statistics, we
went over it today, but we’ve seen 40% reductions year over year the last two
years when we revised our policies and they’ve been quite effective. We’re
going to have to obviously keep a focus on that no matter where our franchises
Barry Wilner: The
passage of using the surface tablet for the officials went through. What about
using video on the sideline for players and coaches? I know it’s been
discussed, was it discussed here, where does that stand?
Dean Blandino: Video on
tablets on the sidelines was discussed. I think that’s something we’ll
continue. We’ve heard from our coaches and our clubs where they stand on it.
That’s something, as the technology continues to improve, will continue to be a
part of the discussion.
Sam Farmer: These
things would have been sort of unbelievable a few years ago. We’ve had three
relocations in a 14-month span, Las Vegas getting a team, the Raiders staying
in Oakland for at least the next two seasons, the Chargers playing in a 32-seat
stadium. Does this mark the start of a new era for the NFL? And what specific
challenges lie ahead?
Goodell: You know we had a number of relocations in the
nineties, I believe it was four in a very short period of time, maybe even a
year. So that’s an unfortunate circumstance, but it comes after a great deal of
work to try to resolve the issues. We’ve been successful in keeping our
franchises where they are. Unfortunately, we weren’t in this case. We want to
continue to find ways to be creative, and finding those solutions in those
markets. But we also have stability for those teams now. That wasn’t something
that just started in the last year or two. They’ve been struggling with
stadiums for at least a decade in every one of those cases.
We also have
stability for those teams now. That wasn’t something that just started in the
last year or two They’ve been struggling with stadiums for at least a decade in
every one of those cases. We now have stability in that case. We have two
franchises back in the entertainment capital of the world. The reality of it is
that is providing us more stability long-term. We also understand how painful
it is when that happens. We certainly understand from a fan perspective how
difficult it is. That’s why we work harder to try to get that stability, so it
To what would you attribute a more progressive thought in that room about
gambling from those 32 owners than maybe 10 or 15 years ago? Do you foresee the
league requesting the gaming commission take them off the board in their games?
Goodell: I think
society in general has a bit of a change with respect to gambling in general.
We’ve seen that. We still strongly oppose in that room and otherwise legalized
sports gambling. The integrity of our game is number one. We will not
compromise on that. I also believe that Las Vegas is not the same city it was
ten or 20 years ago. It is a much more diverse city; it has become an entertainment
mecca. It is the fastest growing city in the country. When you look at Las
Vegas and what it is today, what it was a decade or two ago, I think it’s a
much different city. They made a very compelling proposal, which the ownership
obviously approved overwhelmingly.
Would you take them off the board? Would you ask?
Goodell: I don’t think
we are contemplating that at this point, in large part because you have the
regulatory environment there which actually could be beneficial in that case.
We’ll study it further, but at this point in time that’s not our position.
any caveats in the agreement that are specific to Las Vegas? That relate to the
Goodell: We did not
change any of our gambling policies in the context of the Raiders relocation.
It wasn’t necessary and the Raiders didn’t ask us to do that. We don’t see
changing our current policies. Your broader question about continuing our
efforts on gambling, that is a major risk for us. We have to make sure that we
continue to stay focused on making sure that everyone has full confidence that
what you see on the field is not influenced by any outside factors. That is our
number-one concern. That goes to what I consider the integrity of the game. We
will not relent on that.
Do you contemplate policy changes that might for example keep players out of
sports books? Will there be new policies put in place regarding these special
challenges? Year-round banning from the casinos? Brothels?
Goodell: We have
policies in place now and obviously we’ll continue to evaluate those policies.
If we think something specific needs to be done in Las Vegas, or any changes to
our policy, we obviously retain the right to do that. We will continue to look
be allowed to visit sports books?
Goodell: No. That’s in
violation of our policy today.
Condotta: For Rich, on players leaping over the line on field goals and extra
points, curious as to the discussion of that, how big of a factor was the
players’ union recommendation initially? How did it play into that?
Rich McKay: We all knew during the season at some
point it was going to get discussed. We saw many instances as teams began to
learn how to block it, it became more concerning. Early on teams did not know
how to block it, the guard wasn’t getting up in the air. The center wasn’t
getting up, nobody was chipping on the player, the player was getting a free
run and all of a sudden the players weren’t getting a free run and now the
player was coming down at a really bad angle. We knew it would be discussed.
Philadelphia submitted it. When we met with the Players Association, to a
person they were quick to say, ‘we don’t like this play.’ That absolutely is
always plays a part in our decision. One thing we do a good job of, and the
Commissioner started it a number of years ago and it’s been going for a long
time and it is in our CBA, is that when we meet with them, we have a really
good session. We hear everything that they have to say, and everything they
like and don’t like. We also get feedback on proposals, and that was one that
they universally said, ‘we want that play taken out.’ When we proposed that
today, we said that to the membership and the vote was 32-0.
talk about pre-Draft visits, there was a memo made for timing and testing, can
you explain what that entails?
Rich McKay: It took us ten years and you expect me
to be able to tell you. That is a very technical thing. We have a local workout
policy and procedure that’s been in place forever that talks about the fact
that you have an unlimited amount of local workouts you have if the player
either resides in the metropolitan area or goes to school in the metropolitan
with the rule was back when Jimmy Johnson was the coach of the Dolphins, he
figured out that maybe there are a lot of players who would either reside
around Miami or go to school around Miami. He would have local workouts with 60
players. Green Bay would have a local workout and they would have half a player
because they didn’t have anybody residing there and they didn’t have a school
in their metropolitan area. This was a rule to try to equal that out. It has
been thought out for a long time. I give a lot of credit to the General
Manager’s advisory committee, and they’ve put it in where each team has a
50-mile radius to get those players if they reside in that area, and has three
FBS schools that are assigned to them, all big schools. We just tried to level
the playing field, so when you have that local workout, you can have 20-30
players. We think it gives a level playing field. What those local workouts do
is provide an opportunity for us to see some players, many of which are not
going to be drafted, that you want to sign as college free agents. We like this
It’s for this
year, just for one year. We want to see how it works, and see if the teams take
advantage of it which I think they will.
Paolantonio: There have been allegations that Colin Kaepernick is being
blackballed. When you heard that, what was your reaction? What did you
think of that allegation?
Goodell: I haven’t
heard that from our clubs in any way that that’s an issue. In my experience in
35 years, our clubs make independent evaluations of players. They work hard to
try to improve their teams. If they think a player can help them improve their
team, they’re going to do that.
Can you take
us through the process for if there are multiple challenges at the same time
while you are watching games, how that will be handled?
Blandino: We’ve been
doing this for three years now since 2014. We’ve been involved in the replay
decision-making process. There are three people in the room: myself, our senior
director of officiating and one of our officiating supervisors that can make
decisions. We have one person assigned to each game, and they are responsible
for calling things to our attention. We had a good year last year with the
three people in the room feeling out that early window on Sunday. If there are
up to three challenges going on at once we can manage that. It would be a very
rare instance where they would all be initiated at the same moment and have a
fourth where you couldn’t get to it. The way it flows, you can get to the
replay station, and we feel comfortable with that early window of games.