NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Press Conference At The Fall League Meeting - 10-7-15

NFL Communications

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Press Conference At The Fall League Meeting - 10-7-15

Commissioner Transcripts 2015 Regular English






Goodell: We had a very long, but productive day of meetings. The season is off to a terrific start, of course. We have reports from various committees today, starting with the Competition Committee. We spent a great deal of time talking about what we would call early trends. We’re obviously seeing some terrific competition, some exciting competition. The average margin of victory is down almost two points. We obviously have some trends that we’re also following on the more negative side which are penalties. Penalties are up about two penalties per game. Following that also is usually pace of game, so that’s something else we keep a close eye on. That’s up about four minutes I believe and then our PAT rule which we’re very excited about. It’s had a very positive impact. It’s exactly what the Competition Committee focused on. It’s about 94 percent success rate. We’re also seeing that the two-point conversions have gone up to about 53 percent as far as teams going for two points, so both of those are very positive trends that we’re excited about.

We also spent a great deal of time on player health and safety. It came up in a variety of the presentations and discussions today. It is the highest priority for us. We continue to make significant progress there. I think the rules changes, the changes to our policies, the changes to our protocols have all resulted to changes in our culture and that is something we’re very pleased about. We’re seeing a 35 percent reduction the last three years in concussions alone. That is a very positive trend. We have the new medical timeout this year which has been used twice, both times we think protecting our players which is something that we believe is certainly our priority.

We also will continue in that area. We had a couple of reports on continuing work. One of them is UPMC, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, is having a conference in a couple of weeks talking about treatment for concussions, some of the exciting developments that have been happening in that area that they have been leading. And then there is a second conference in early November around one of our international games with international sports organizations and governing bodies talking about some of the developments in this area, sharing best practices, sharing protocols and that’s something we think is very exciting for all of sports, not just the NFL.

We also spent a fair amount of time talking about fan support and our growth. Ratings are incredibly healthy right now. We’re seeing increases, particularly on Thursday night, double digit increases. Networks continue to struggle in primetime and we’re bucking the trend and that’s something that’s exciting for our fans and we’re continuing to see more fans engaging with our game, not just on television though. One of the reports that we had was on all platforms, whether they’re NFL-controlled platforms –, NFL Mobile, NFL Network, NFL Now – all of those are up. All of those are significantly up and that’s demonstrating the passion of our fans and how they’re engaging with our game.

We also spent a fair amount of time on international. We talked about our series, our regular season games. We actually had a vote today on that, which extended our agreement to play international regular season games and expanded it also. We are going to be able to play games outside of the UK, whether it’s Mexico or Germany or other markets. That’s something that the committee approved a couple of weeks ago and the ownership unanimously approved it today.

The last point I’d mention is Los Angeles. We spent a great deal of time this afternoon discussing the status of our teams in San Diego, St. Louis and Oakland, the efforts in those markets to get stadiums built. I think there’s a tremendous recognition in those communities that a stadium needs to get built. There are efforts ongoing in many of those communities and then we talked about the LA projects themselves, our relocation policies and how important that is to, not just communities where these teams reside but also our fans and that’s a high priority for us. The general attitude is very positive, there’s a sense that everything we do we can get better at and that’s what we’re here for. I’m happy to take your questions.

Sam Farmer (LA Times): Thanks, Roger. Are you encouraged that a Los Angeles solution is at hand and could you characterize where you are in the process right now?

Well, Sam, I think obviously there are two potential solutions in Los Angeles as you know. For several years you’ve been asking this question so I think you may be more encouraged in some ways than I am on that point, but you know I think it’s very positive that we have two alternatives. We have three teams that are interested that have been struggling to get stadiums built in their own communities for not just several years, but even decades and that’s something that, as I said before, there’s a recognition that has to get resolved for the long-term. I think the ownership was very thoughtful today. They expressed obviously a great deal of concern for the communities where these teams are playing now, wanting to continue to be there and be successful long-term, but also recognizing that we need to find long-term solutions here. I think there’s also interest in being back in the entertainment capital of the world, but we have to do that right. There’s a process. Our relocation policies are important and we need to make sure we follow those closely.

Ben Volin (Boston Globe): I know we’re all fatigued over Deflategate and it’s been a while since anything has happened with that, but this is the first time we’ve gotten to speak to you since the case has been decided. I’m just curious, from your perspective why is the NFL appealing this? Why is it important to keep the fight going instead of just letting the story end?

Well, Ben, that’s your description. To our description, it’s simply about our rights under the collective bargaining agreement. This isn’t about any individual player or any individual incident. This is about the rights that we negotiated in 2011, the rights for us to have the authority to make sure we discipline. We talked today about some very healthy discipline numbers. We’re seeing less arrests, les violations of our personal conduct policy that have happened over the last seven years or eight years starting with our personal conduct policy in 2007, our revisions back in December, and this year there’s probably about a 35 percent reduction. So the reality is the policies are working and the policies aren’t all discipline. The policies start with education, awareness, intervention and then accountability and so they’re working. So that’s important to us, so protecting the integrity of the game is not something we’re going to compromise.

Mark Maske (Washington Post): A few owners have mentioned in the last few weeks that they believe that if they’re going to be changing the player disciplinary system and your role in it that that will come through an extension of the CBA with the union. Do you agree that that is the process it will take? And if so, what do you see as the timeframe of that? And also, why pursue it in that way rather than as a single issue negotiation?

I’ve had several discussions with De (Smith), we’ve had discussions over the last several years about this. We recognize that there are different ways of administering the discipline. We’re open to that, we always have been. We just haven’t been able to reach an agreement on what that process is. We are not in favor of third-party arbitration with people that have no involvement or understanding of our policies or, frankly, a stake in the future of the NFL. So we’ve been very clear about that. But there are other alternatives and we’ve continued those discussions. There have been more discussions in the last couple of months and I expect they’ll continue. Whether they’re in the context of an extension or not, I don’t know, but we’re not tied to that. We made improvements to our drug policies last year which I think were significant, important. I think they were good for the game, I think they were good for the players, I think they were good for the NFL overall. So if we see the opportunity to improve anything, whether it’s our policies or our processes, we’re going to do that.

Rachel Nichols (CNN): It’s not hard to see why in 2006 when Congress passed the law against Internet gambling they didn’t see a bunch of college kids playing fantasy football over the course of the season as gambling, they made an exception for that. But since then with these daily fantasy sites coming where people make picks and then if certain players do well they just get a big payout, there is at least one Congressman and a lot of outsiders that say, ‘Hey, that’s a game of skill. But games of skill like poker or betting against the spread, that’s gambling, it’s more like that. The NFL seems to think otherwise. Can you explain why you don’t see that as gambling and what you think the future is for that?

The first thing we do is protect the integrity of the game as I just mentioned and I draw a distinction between season-long fantasy and daily fantasy because season-long fantasy has been around for quite a while. In 2006 I’m not sure anyone knew what daily fantasy was.

Nichols: That’s my point.

Things evolve and you’re right on that point, Rachel. But states are the ones that make the determinations about whether something is legal or not legal. We follow the law and we will do that. It is not, from our standpoint and the league, we have not taken any equity positions. We have allowed this to happen on advertising. There are sponsorship opportunities in the stadium, but not with our logos and marks. We’re following other leagues in that case, in the sense that other leagues have taken equity positions. We feel that a cautious approach is the right way but we’re protecting our game. Daily fantasy – it’s hard to see the influence that it could have on the outcome of a game because individual players are picking different players from different teams, mashing them up, you might call it, and it’s not based on the outcome of a game, which is what our biggest concern is with sports betting. So our position continues to be that way, but we recognize some states consider it legal, some don’t, and we’ll follow that law and make sure we do.

Nichols: I just wanted to follow up on Greg Hardy, he’s returning from a suspension that involved domestic violence and when given the opportunity to be contrite yesterday instead he came out and said he likes playing the Patriots because Tom Brady’s wife is hot and he hopes she brings her friends to the game. He said he selects other players for the Pro Bowl based on how hot their wives are. What do you think about a representative of the NFL talking about women that way, especially coming back from the suspension that he’s coming back from. Have you informally reached out to him and the Cowboys to talk about it?

I am not aware of the comments, so I can’t respond to the comments because I haven’t seen them. But we have high standards in the NFL and we expect people to follow them. And as I mentioned earlier with the statistics, I think the players are. I think the biggest news to the effect that we’re seeing is that the vast majority of NFL players are outstanding young men. They do great things in their communities. I’m proud of what they do. They’re good family men and they’re people that we should all be proud of. That’s what we’re trying to highlight are the people that are doing things right. There is a very, very small percentage of men who don’t follow the policies and when they don’t, they have to be held accountable. And we’ll do everything we can to prevent that, to intervene and try to make sure that we get them to follow policies and see the way the NFL does things, the standards that we hope to uphold, and we won’t compromise on that.

Gary Myers (NY Daily News): Just following up on some things Ben (Volin) said regarding Deflategate. One of the questions that come up and looking back on it is why you chose to pursue discipline so vehemently with Tom Brady, one of the players who has been the face of the league for 15 years and also based on the result in Judge Berman’s courtroom, do you regret taking this as far as you did with this? And what was your reaction to his ruling.

The first point is I have a lot of respect and admiration for Tom. I know him personally. As I said, I admire him tremendously, he is a future Hall of Fame player. But our rules apply to everybody. They apply to every single player. And every single player expects those rules to apply to everybody. Every coach does, every fan does, every partner, every team does. Our rules and the integrity of the game aren’t different because somebody is popular or somebody is a Super Bowl champ or not. They are to be applied evenly. Our teams expect that and that’s our job, that’s our responsibility. It’s my job. So no, I don’t regret that and we will continue to uphold the integiry of the game and we will do that as vehemently as we can.

David Hunn (St. Louis Post Dispatch): Could you outline the cross ownership proposal that was approved for Stan Kroenke’s ownership? Second, there has been some delays in the stadium planning in St. Louis. Do those worry you?

It wasn’t approved by the membership today. It’s not a voting matter. The finance committee reviewed it two weeks ago. It’s their prerogative. The committee informed the ownership today that the policy was met and they were going to proceed with the changes and he is consistent with the ownership policies. That’s what he was asked to do as of June 15, he did that and I think the ownership was comfortable with it.

Scott M. Reid (Orange County Register): Do you see this (LA relocation) going to a vote? What do you do if one of the teams doesn’t get the 24 votes needed?

Yes I do expect it will go to a vote. The relocation policy is very important and subject to the full ownership vote so it will require 24 of the 32 clubs to approve it.

Dan Kaplan (Sports Business Daily): Daily fantasy is legal, but there have been a number of ethical issues that have risen regarding the internal integrity of these companies. Do you think the NFL will take a second look at allowing these companies to advertise with teams?

Consumer protection and making sure that companies operate responsibly is important to us. So we are going to want to make sure that our fans are protected, the consumers in general are protected and we expect anyone that is involved in any way with us as an advertiser or sponsor or a business relationship will do that in a responsible fashion and I hope they will do that.

Vincent Bonsignore (Los Angeles Daily News): What are the means in place to rectify a stalemate in a vote on a Los Angeles franchise? What do you see as your role in a situation like that? Can you see a time where you put the three owners in a room and have them talk it out and come to a solution that can go to ownership?

You asked a lot of hypothetical questions there. I think the ownership was very thoughtful today. They understand the issues, they understand the relocation policies and they understand the obligation our fans and the communities where we operate. I have great confidence that they’ll do what’s in the best interest of the NFL overall. I’m not going to speculate or deal with hypotheticals. We’ve been very thoughtful. We’ve had a committee that has been fully operating since January and they’ve been very active. I think we’ve almost exhausted them already, but they’ve done a terrific job and I think the membership appreciates that. We had a meeting in August that was solely focused on Los Angeles. Our job is to make sure the ownership is fully informed and they have all the tools to make the right decision going forward.

Judy Battista (NFL Network): Given the way the Monday night game ended on a play that was officiated incorrectly and everybody realized pretty quickly that was officiated incorrectly, do you think it might be time to reconsider replay review and perhaps consider something that Bill Belichick has been talking about for a few years, which is making all plays potentially reviewable?

To the first part, I think Rich McKay discussed it today. I’m not sure I can remember since 1990 when we haven’t discussed instant replay extensively with the competition committee and also with the membership. It clearly is going to be reviewed again. I think there are a lot of obstacles to having every play reviewed, but there are other alternatives that can deal with these kind of issues. We’re going to have to address that. We’ve shown that we can improve the instant replay system over the years and we will continue to do that.

David Hunn (St. Louis Post-Dispatch): The stadium planning in St. Louis has slowed down a bit and delayed a little, does that concern you at all?

The first part, I would say yes. As I said to the governor back in January, it is very important for them to have a timetable. It is very important to have a proposal that’s actionable and that brings certainty. We said that repeatedly. I think they’ve done a terrific job doing that, but sometimes delays occur. But ultimately it’s making sure that we have a proposal that meets those standards by the end of the year.

Tom Pelissero (USA Today): The new ball protocols that were put in place in the offseason in terms of how the footballs are handled, one of the clauses in there was that at randomly selected games some of the balls would be taken out at halftime. The policy would have those balls taken out and new balls would be put in for the second half. What does the league hope to ascertain from the information that’s recorded on the footballs in those cases and given the amount of scrutiny over how science affects footballs, will those results ever be public?

I think the most important thing we’re trying to ascertain is that the balls in play are within the regulations that were established. That’s the core of the issue: protecting the integrity of the game and making sure the game is played within the rules. We’re a game of rules, the rules need to be followed by everyone and the objective there is to make sure the rules are being followed.

Pelissero: Will the information that’s recorded in the game reports be made public?

I don’t know. The most important thing to us is making sure the rules are followed.