NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL
WITH COMPETITION COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN RICH
OWNERS MEETING IN BOCA RATON, FL
MARCH 23, 2016
Goodell: As we’ve
talked all week, we’re coming off one of the greatest years in the history of
the NFL, but we’ve also emphasized that was last year. Our entire focus this
week was on: what do we do to continue to make our game great? What do we
continue to make it safer for our players? How do we continue to use innovation
to improve every aspect of the league? How do we continue to look forward to
how our fans are changing and evolving, and using technology to continue to be
able to reach them.
several voting matters, but most of them came in the context of the Competition
Committee and the context of making our game better. The game got better this
week. We had significant changes to improve the safety of the game for our
players, which Rich will talk about. We certainly made some other changes that
are going to improve the quality of the game also. So very positive changes and
a very strong commitment on behalf of the ownership to continue to focus and
continue to be aggressive in these changes.
health and safety area, we spent a great deal of time. We spent a
significant amount of time talking about additional research. The membership
agreed to funding additional research. We’ll give you more details as we move
along on exactly where we put that money, but we’re aggressively looking to
find new ways to advance that research.
fans, going back to that - we focus on the stadium experience. That’s
critically important to us. So how do we engage our fans in the stadium,
continue to make that the best experience in all of sports, but also how do we
use technology, and how do we continue to make that experience at home better?
Our network partners and our digital partners all do a terrific job in
improving that experience, but we want to make sure that we continue to see
where the fan is going, how we can reach the fans with our games and with our
content, and make that even a better experience, and allow them to engage even
expansion side of how we continue to reach the new markets: we obviously spent
a fair amount of time talking about Los Angeles and how we continue to address
issues market-by- market here, but we also spent a great deal of time talking
internationally. We’ll continue to have our London series of three games, we’re
playing in Mexico this November, and we also talked about within the next
couple of years the potential for a game in China - a regular-season game in
China. We’re excited about that potential, and we’ll continue to have dialogue
And then we
have agreed with the Rams that they will appear on Hard Knocks this year. So
the Los Angeles Rams and their return to LA will be chronicled through the eyes
of Hard Knocks and NFL Films, and we’re excited about putting it on that
platform. So those are some of the highlights.
McKay: There were 19
playing rules proposals. Nine were voted yes, six were voted down, three were
withdrawn and one was tabled. So, I’ll go through them with you if you want,
quickly. I’m sure you got them, I’m sure they submitted them to you. The PAT
proposal, which is an example of a proposal that took a long, long time to get
passed and then last year was passed for one year, passed this year without a
vote against. We passed the coach to player which just allows the coach to
communicate directly to the player from the press box, just giving more
flexibility if you will for the coaches as to where they actually call their
plays from, both defense and offense.
significant change for us from a safety perspective is the complete elimination
of the chop block. It has been a part of our game for a long time. There has
been plenty of teams and schemes that have relied upon that technique. It is
not one that has overwhelmed us in injury data, but it is not one that we have
felt good about over the years as we’ve continued to limit that play where it
was legal, and this year we were able to eliminate it totally which I think is
a good thing. I think it’s a good thing from a defensive player perspective.
Often times many of our safety rules are directed towards offensive players or
at least they appear to be even though the defenseless receiver in our case
many times we think is actually for the benefit of the defensive back. But in
this one, as this is a pure defensive player safety rule, we think it’s time to
pass and we’re happy it did.
this morning an amended playing rule proposal for automatic ejection after two
unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. We amended it to make it for one year only. We
heard some of the coaches and some of their concerns yesterday about the rule
and how the rule would be used, so we wanted to amend it and make it for one
year and we passed that today. We passed moving the touchback to the 25, which
we do think has a safety element to it. We passed that also for one year
because we do want to see if it changes the numbers and how it impacts the game
because there is that thought that there will be some more short kicks. We’ll
see. The other ones that passed, the horse collar. We expanded the horse collar
protection. The horse collar has been a concern of ours because of the buckling
action when a player gets pulled backwards, we feel it’s really a play of
tremendous risk to the player and so we wanted to expand that protection and we
were able to do that.
got a couple that are more technical ones. The granting of the excess timeout,
the fact that you could have a five-yard penalty if the official were to grant
the time out. Dean Blandino explained to you the other day the illegal touching
change. He made the rule and he is better to explain it than any of us and he
is also better at explaining penalty enforcement on a double foul after a
change. I would welcome you to read the rule and good luck as you begin to
understand it, but it is truly – one of the problems we have in our rule book
is it’s a very complicated play when you have double fouls and you have change
of possession so the rule likewise has it’s challenges and Dean wanted to
change that this year to simplify it and simplify the enforcement so it would
be better for officiating. So that’s our rules changes.
proposals, we’ve had a couple pass today. We had bylaw proposal number five
pass from Minnesota which is on injury settlements with players and the ability
to get those players back on your team sooner and we changed our designated to
return rule. This one, designated to return, was submitted by Buffalo. Good
change in our mind. It allows that one player that you’re allowed to get back
during the season off of IR, it allows you the flexibility of not having to
designate that player when you put that player on injured reserve or
non-football injury. So the way the rule works is after the final cut, you can
have one player that you can designate for return and have that player come
back. Now you don’t have to designate the player. You designate the player when
his time is up. In other words, his six weeks and you’re ready to have him
practice, then you can pick who that player is. Better result in our mind. You
don’t know when you put a player on injured reserve, you don’t know how that
player is going to come back and what his timeline is, so instead of having to
guess at it this gives you a little more flexibility. We think this will allow
teams a little more efficient way to use the designated for return.
passed bylaw proposal number nine which just deals with minor injuries and
truly is a technical bylaw proposal. Bylaw proposal number ten, video on the
sidelines. We tabled that. We heard a really good discussion this morning from
some coaches and some concerns both on the technical side, on the actual
application of it and on the competitive ramifications and I think we want to
spend the next couple of months kind of understanding all of those and then
discussing it in May. We’ll use the tablets regardless. They contained the
stills this year. That’s the system we have operated for a long time and
Microsoft has provided the tablets on the sideline. The issue of videos is one
we will continue to discuss and probably vote on in May. So that’s kind of
everything we voted on. We voted on a resolution from Indianapolis on the
retractable roof, which did not pass just on the flexibility around it. I think
that’s pretty much everything we voted on. So, any questions?
mentioned objections to the ejections, do you think, how strong were those
considered by the owners and do you think that the fact that proposal was
originated by the commissioner had an impact?
McKay: I think these are spirited discussions,
typically, in the room, and educational and productive. And I think this one on
sportsmanship in general was very productive, both yesterday and then yesterday
afternoon, then again today. We’ve emphasized sportsmanship in our competition
committee report since I’ve been on the competition committee at least five
times, if not six. We have made it a point of emphasis every time we felt like
it’s beginning to cross the line. We have not been able to affect sportsmanship
in the way we think we need to, so this year we have another section on
sportsmanship. We have specific points we are emphasizing on sportsmanship. But
we felt like we needed a rule to make sure that the players are held
accountable to what we expect them to do and how we expect them to conduct
Goodell: Mark, to one point, I think we spoke
about this yesterday with all the clubs, brought it back this morning. I
think Jeff Fisher said it the best, he started off the meeting this morning
saying, listen, as coaches we’re responsible for making sure we coach our
players, control our players, and sportsmanship is a key component of that.
Second, coach made it very clear that while we’ve had points of emphasis in the
past in the competition committee, they need teeth. This was a rule that
brought teeth to that. It brought an opportunity for the rules to reflect the
emphasis that I think everybody in the membership feels, and particularly the
competition committee, sportsmanship is important to us. It’s important to our
players, it’s important to our teams, and it’s important to our fans.
first, what’s the adjustment on the injury settlement, one? And second part is
the playing rules proposals 6-15, which got tabled, which got voted down?
last point on sportsmanship though, Mark, back to you, when we were in our
meetings, when we met our last time to kind of finalize our rule proposal,
which we did last week, Rogers Redding from the NCAA always sits with us. He’s
the head of officials and rules for the NCAA, and this was the one rule
proposal he wanted us to pass because he feels that the conduct of our players
and the sportsmanship of our players impacts their players directly because
they’re watching our games. And last year, at 75 unsportsmanlike conduct fouls,
for us, that’s a very big number. So that’s just another point for you on the
sportsmanship. So to John’s question on rules that did not pass: Baltimore had
a rule about jerseys, pullover jerseys. That was playing rule proposal number
six, that did not pass. Carolina had a rule proposal, that’s number nine, that
was on intentional grounding and changing the language on intentional
grounding. That did not pass. Withdrawn were Washington had a rule proposal,
number 13, that was withdrawn. Kansas City had rule proposals 10 and 11, both
of those were withdrawn. And the ones that were left are playing rule proposal
7, 8, 12, 14 and 15, all of those were replay proposals by teams. The one that
we tabled was playing rule proposal number seven, submitted by Baltimore,
because we think there’s merit to the proposal, and we think it’s something we
want to work on. The basis of playing rule proposal number seven is a rewrite
of the rule, and kind of almost taking us back to a simpler way to look at the
of the things about instant replay is over the years since we put this in in
’98 is we continue to add plays to the reviewable list and really have made it,
to some people’s point, confusing and certainly long. One thing that Baltimore
did in their proposal is they made it much more simplistic of what is not
allowed to be reviewed, and I think that we’re going to look at that. We’re
going to meet as a committee, we’re going to talk to the membership, and we’re
going to look at trying to submit a proposal off of Baltimore’s that rewrites
the rule and rewrites the language, and submit it in May for a vote. So that
would be the one that has been tabled and will be voted on as far as replay
about the other four? Were they tabled or withdrawn?
four all failed. All were voted on and all failed. Those included increasing
the number of challenges. If you got one right, you automatically got the
third. One was just go to three challenges. One was to increase reviewable
plays to only personal fouls. And one was to review any penalty, and those all
on the designated to return rule. I think right now, a player can come back
after six weeks-practice after six, play after eight. Is that totally
eliminated? Can a player come back to practice, be declared that player on
Friday and play on Sunday?
The rule as
it was written is exactly the same. In other words there’s no change in the six
weeks, no change in the eight weeks, no change in any of that language. The
difference is you don’t have to designate that player until the day you’re
going to bring that player back to practice. The day you’re going to bring that
player back to practice after those six weeks, you submit to the league the
name, and that player then becomes your designated to return. It’s a good idea
by Buffalo, and I think it will serve the clubs well.
or Roger: Bruce Arians gave a very spirited plea for having full time officials
today saying they are not professionals and they are not held to the same
standards as coaches and players. He believes that they should be, and that
they should be trained much more extensively during the week. Basically that
was his message, what is your reaction to what coach Arians had to say?
Goodell: I’ll take this, and Rich can add
whatever he wants. As you know, full time officials is not a new issue, Jason.
It’s been discussed in the league, it’s been discussed through the competition
committee for several years. We believe that at least in a limited form that
it’s a positive step, so we agree with coach on that front. In fact, that’s
something we fought for in our last labor negotiations with the officials is to
be able to hire a limited number of officials, I think it was 16 or so, so that
we would have the ability to have them in the office during the week. We could
develop greater consistency, and consistency is really the core of what we’ve
talked about all week here in officiating. That’s what we want to deliver to
our teams. I do believe our officials are incredible professionals. I think
they officiate at the highest possible level. But they can always improve, and
we will try to seek improvement. So that’s not unusual for us, but we’re going
to continue that. We’re going to continue our dialogue with how we implement
the limited number of officials to see the impact. I do believe, though, from a
broader standpoint Jason, whether they’re full time or part time, officials are
going to make mistakes. That’s just-unfortunately the game is fast, and it is
difficult to officiate. They do an extraordinary job. We’re proud of the job
they do and we want to try to give them more resources and more ability to
improve, just as the game of football continues to improve.
Roger, either one of ya’ll. How many of these rule changes are safety related?
Ya’ll talk about unsportsmanlike conduct, but you count it as safety related.
Goodell: Three of the rule changes are safety
related. There’s two more that are clarifications, John, on the use of the
crown of the helmet that was a clarification I would consider being a rule
change. And the other was low hits to the quarterback. We modified how that
rule will be implemented. It’s not voted as a rule change, but it will be
changed as far as the way it’s going to be implemented next year.
Roger, this is Bob Condotta from the Seattle Times. Richard Sherman was pretty
vehement in his opposition to the rule on the ejections. I just-what would be
the league’s message to players such as him that think this is a bad rule?
Goodell: This is all in their control.
Sportsmanship is important to the membership. We all have standards. They have
two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties before they’re ejected. The message from
the membership and the clubs and from our coaches has said we’re going to be
held to those high standards.
Tom Pelissero, USA Today. When you spoke on this for the first time at the
Super Bowl about the two strikes and you’re out policy, I think a lot of us
took it to mean that you were referring to personal fouls and illegal hits. I’m
curious to hear how the final proposal that passed meshes with what your vision
and your hope was, and also how you feel about the possibility of one guy
getting tossed out of the game for two vulgar insults and a guy who has had two
helmet-to-helmet hits gets to keep playing.
Goodell: Well Tom, a couple of points: My
recollection may not be that good, but I’m pretty sure the question at the
Super Bowl was what you are going to do about sportsmanship. And my suggestion
would be that we consider this, and that I had spoken to the chairman of the
competition committee, coaches, and others, and felt that this was something
that should be considered by the committee. They did. They did consider also
expanding it into personal fouls and chose not to do that. That was not the
intent, but it was, I think we were clear about this at the Super Bowl, that’s
for the competition committee to consider. Weigh all of those issues, determine
what should be considered and in what context, and then make a recommendation
to the membership. They did and I think they came to a good place.
terms of just the sportsmanship aspect versus the actual dangerous hits on the
field. I guess that’s the second part of the question is if a player gets to
keep playing after two illegal hits, but after two abusive language things he
gets to keep playing. How do you feel about that possibility?
Goodell: I think when you’re implementing a new
rule like this, you go in increments. It’s progress in the sense of trying to
deal with a particular issue, unsportsmanlike conduct. At some point in time
will this rule evolve into something that will incorporate other issues? I’m
sure the competition committee will consider that. It’s probably no different
that instant replay, Tom. When we started with instant replay it was very
limited, and look where it’s gone today. So I think that’s part of how we
evolve. That’s how we get better is we start with a particular objective and
see what the impact is, and then we go from there.
just to clarify on Baltimore’s replay proposal that you said got tabled, I
believe it also included increasing the amount of challenges. Are you saying
the challenges won’t increase or is that still something that’s being
McKay: Well I can’t say it won’t be
considered because it is still part of their proposal, but I will tell you that
there’s not the votes to increase the number of challenges. Again, last year
was as many challenges as we’ve had, and we had 201. We have 256 games, so
we’re averaging challenges less than one a game between two teams. So we’re not
really interested in the idea of why we would want to expand the number of
challenges available. But it was part of their proposal. I don’t think it will
be part of what gets voted on in May.
Goodell: In fact there was another proposal to
expand the challenges.
McKay: There was. So we had a proposal from
two different teams on expanding it, and they both failed. So that’s the way I
look at challenges.
Kraft said this week that a little while back he sent you a letter asking you
or the NFL to restore the Patriots first-round draft pick and maybe go easy on
Tom Brady. Did you respond to his letter and what do you think of giving them
their pick back or at least reducing the penalty before the draft?
Goodell: I did receive the letter from Robert a
few weeks back. I also responded to him two weeks ago and told him that I
considered his views. I didn’t think there was any new information in there
that would cause us to alter the discipline, and so there will be no changes to
been talk also, potentially, of a settlement in court with Tom Brady. Can you
speak to the possibility of that?
aware of that.
Manziel has had two incidents of domestic abuse. The second one is with a grand
jury and the Dallas Police have a medical record that show the victim had a
ruptured eardrum. Two questions: where is the league in terms of investigating
him? And also why was he not disciplined back in October, the first time this
happened, by the league?
investigations have been ongoing. I have not gotten an update since before the
league meeting. I don’t know where they are [on the review]. Lisa Friel, our
lead investigator, was out here, and as you know, worked in the city of New York
investigating these kinds of crimes. I have gotten updates from her from time
to time but she has not been able to conclude her investigation to a
satisfactory level. When she does and if it results in discipline we’ll
announce it at that point.
expect to penalize the Falcons for asking a player about his sexual orientation
at the Combine?
We spent a
fair amount of time on that this week. I spoke to Dan Quinn and I actually
spoke to the coach who was involved in this matter. I think the Falcons, as an
organization, and Dan Quinn as a head coach, and the coach who was involved,
have all taken ownership of this issue, recognized the mistake that was made,
have been very forthcoming and have taken the appropriate steps to educate
everyone. The coach and I spent probably 20 minutes on the phone talking about
his learning experiences, how he can use this for a positive step and I was
impressed with the way he was handling it. The team has taken on training
programs within the organization which I think are all very satisfactory. So I
don’t see any further steps at the league level at this point.
expect the Rams to host that potential game in China and why is it important
for you to explore that market?
Well, let me
start with the second part. The size and the influence of China in the global
marketplace is obviously something that you can’t ignore. You can’t ignore that
as a sport, or a business, or as a nation. We know we have lots of fans over
there, and more importantly, potential fans over there. So we’ve had a number
of activities that are designed to increase the popularity of our game over
there, to give them a better sense of our game, and a regular season game has
proven to be a real driver to that type of activity. As far as the teams, we
actually have multiple teams that are interested in playing. We have more than
we can handle at this point in time, which is a good issue. I think teams are
interested in participating in how we expand our game on a global basis, but in
particular in China. We will have to go through that process over the next
several months, and again, continue to get to the point where we believe if we
do this, we can be successful. At this point we do, and that’s why we spoke
about it publicly this week.
Can we get
an update just on where OTT and the streaming package stands for the exclusive
rights for Thursday Night Football?
spending a great deal of time on this. In fact, we had a couple recent
conversations with some of our potential partners. The interest has been very
strong. There are multiple ways in which different digital companies want to
participate in this, the value that they can bring to our consumers, the
experiences that we think we could initiate through this relationship. What
we’re trying to just figure out is how to best make that a great consumer
experience and who the right partner is that can deliver on that. Again, the
number of partners has been so strong that it’s taken a little bit longer than
we actually thought, but that’s a good problem for us.
will still be broadcasted by one of the broadcast partners and just streamed by
one of these services?
Yes, the way
we did the Thursday Night Football is that we awarded the network piece of that
to NBC and CBS. We also have the games on the NFL Network and this is our
tri-cast model, so those are the first two pieces of the tri-cast. The third is
the digital – being able to stream the game to their customers on a global
basis. There are a number of pieces that are associated with that but we have
the full rights with our network agreements to do that, and we expect to do
something that I think, one, will be positive for our fans but two, and
probably as important to us, is that we are going to learn more about how this
works. We think this is a significant shift obviously in the media landscape.
It’s something that we have to be at the forefront of. We have our experiment –
forgive that term because I don’t use it internally – but our game with Yahoo
was a very important step in that. We were able to stream the game successfully
from a technology standpoint, starting with that. Second, I think it was a
great experience. We learned an awful lot about the global audience. We learned
about how the audience and what platforms they are engaging on -- whether it’s
a desktop, whether it’s a tablet, whether it’s a phone device. As technology
gets better, this is only going to be a growing opportunity for us. So we are
going to take our time. There is no rush on it other than getting to the right
combination, but I do see it in the context of the Thursday Night package.
There are some other potential opportunities where we can bring it other
partners. You saw this week we announced with the Arizona Cardinals a new show
on Amazon. That is another great opportunity to be talking with these digital
companies about how we can be innovative and how we can reach new customers.
understanding is owners received an update on stadium situations in San Diego,
Oakland and Los Angeles. In terms of the Chargers, have they submitted a
stadium proposal to the league? If not, is there a time table on when they will
submit a proposal?
They do not
have to submit a stadium proposal. We’ve been working with the Chargers
on their downtown alternative and continuing dialogue with the city also. This
is something that I think is going to play out in the community over some
period of months here. We will try to play whatever role we can to be
productive. We think it would be great to get a new facility built in San
Diego. We’ve made that point that it’s required for us to be able to keep the
team there on a successful basis long-term. But these decisions to a large
extent are made with the team, but also with the community. What is best for
the community? As you know, this is a project that affects more than just the
football stadium. It’s about a convention facility, it’s about the development
of the downtown area. These are things that we’ll try to improve whatever
perspective we can from a league level standpoint, but also support the team as
they’re looking to reach that conclusion that makes sense for their community.
closely is the league monitoring the religious liberty bill in Georgia and
could that, in fact, hurt or derail their Super Bowl bid?
something that the community is obviously focused on. The legislation -- we’re
aware of that. We’ll see when they make a decision on that. Our bid process, as
you know, goes into April. All factors are considered. The membership makes a
decision on the basis of each individual club. What they want to vote for and
they will weigh certain issues however they determine to weigh them. So that’s
something that each of the owners will have to make that decision in May.
There have been some conflicting remarks about CTE from the league. Jeff Miller at the roundtable [in Washington, DC] saying that he agrees that there is some linkage between football and CTE, and Jerry Jones last night saying 'it's too soon', and I think he used the word 'absurd' to draw that definitive conclusion. Can you just say where the league stands on this issue, and whether you feel that there is some linkage between football and CTE?
Goodell: The most important thing for us is to support the medical and scientists to determine what those connections are. We think the statements that have been made through Jeff Miller and others have been consistent with our position over the years. We've actually funded those studies, so we're not only aware of those, we recognize them and we support those studies. A lot of the research is still in its infancy, but we're trying to find ways to accelerate that, and that's part of what we're doing in investing in additional research this week. But we're also not waiting for the research. We're going out and making the changes to our game. We're making changes to our rules, which you've heard about today. We made changes in 2011 that affected the way we train our athletes. Several coaches and I had conversations today about how it's changing the way they're teaching the techniques that are used on the field and in training. All very positive changes. You've also seen a lot of the changes we've made in equipment, and there are more to come. There are changes to the fields, changes with helmets — some of you may have been able to see the tech lab today with the VICIS helmet out there. So there's exciting technological changes that are going to make our game safer, and we're advancing that, we're driving that. And so our view is to try to continue to do that. We'll support science and medicine and allow them to make those decisions, and try to see what we can do to support that and advance that."
There was a report last week that the NFL was negotiating with the NFLPA to strip you of your disciplinary authority. Is there any truth to that and how do you feel about that? Do you want to retain that authority?
Goodell: Listen, I think I said at the Super Bowl that we're not going to negotiate positions publicly. On the other hand, I've also been very open over the last several years that we have had discussions about the discipline process for decades. We began after we signed our collective bargaining agreement in 2011 to discuss how we could modify the existing plan and we're always open to that. I've said that before. If we could find a better discipline system let's do it. We are not close to an agreement by any stretch of the imagination on any changes to that as it relates to a third party or other individuals making those decisions, but we are open to them. We will continue to have that dialogue directly with the union and if we can come up with a better system, we'll announce it at that point.
Roger, could you give us an update on a decision on Josh Gordon's reinstatement? It's been over 60 days since he applied.
Goodell: I actually have scheduled when I get back to New York sometime in the next week or so to get an update on that. Our staff has been working on it, we're obviously aware of it and they have been working on it. As soon as we have the opportunity to see that, we'll make a judgement, but no decision yet.
Clark Hunt said that the Chiefs have filed an appeal on the tampering charges and I was wondering a, if you plan on hearing that appeal yourself or will you point a designee and b, if you expect that ruling will be done by the Draft?
Goodell: I do not know if it's scheduled yet. I know they did appeal and we will accommodate the date. I do expect I would hear it. I haven't thought of any other alternatives at this point in time. It's an important policy to us. It's important from a competitive standpoint so I would expect I would hear it and if they would like to do it in advance of the Draft, we'll do that.
You guys made a few changes to the legal tampering policy this year – you shortened it a day. I was curious what the impetus for those changes were and do you feel that the changes were effective?
Goodell: You're talking about the changes from last year? I've been in the league 34 years now. There are not many years when I don't think we talked about changes to the tampering policy. It's right up there with replay, player safety. These are important issues to our league and the foundation of our league, so we regularly talk about it. One of the things I like to say I'm proud of is that the league continues to make very positive changes. The rule changes this week are a great example of it. We may have had our most competitive season ever last year, but we still looked and figured out how we make it more competitive and that's I think the hallmark of our league. So the tampering policy is something that has changed over the years. It will undoubtedly continue to change over the years and part of it changes because of the system. Free agency changed the way we have to apply our tampering policy. We still see that, so there are frequently changes to that. I think it's been positive and it's something I think our clubs respect and we're going to enforce it when we see clear violations.
A couple of coaches this week have been pretty outspoken about wanting one, more practice time and two, more contact with players. Bill O'Brien said he'd like to get players in the building before the middle of April. Bruce Arians wanted more contact practices just for teaching players. I know it's a CBA issue, but have you seen anything in the game that will make you say, "Alright, these guys are right with wanting more contact with players" and what are your personal thoughts on those?
Goodell: You make a very good point. We had a very good discussion this week with the coaches, general managers and coaches in the room at our special Tuesday session. This was a pretty lengthy dialogue and it comes in two levels. First, you made a point about the coaches would like to have more opportunity in the offseason to be able to coach. Let me put that in one bucket. That is not unusual, we've heard that before. We've heard it when we signed our collective bargaining agreement in 2011 and I respect it. Coaches like to coach and so they want to be on the field and they want to be out working to try to improve their team. We made an agreement with our players. We're going to respect it and we're going to have all 32 teams operating on that same level playing field. The second issue which came up and I thought was incredibly thoughtful which is – and it came out of the context with the Rams this year with their relocation to Los Angeles - they had a special session which was approved by the Players Association where they could bring their players in and it was non-football. It was about talking about the relocation of the team, how it impacts each of those players, where they'll be training, the timing and it was very productive, but it was also a chance for – and Jeff made this point – that they were able to get players together collectively and it was a positive thing and they had the structure and there was a great deal of excitement. It was positive for the players to have that structure back again. The context is could we do that? Could we expand our player engagement programs to give them more opportunities to focus on life skills on ways in which they could look beyond the game of football and improve themselves, improve their lives and communities. So that is something that we will continue to have dialogue with the union. It is a CBA issue, but we think there's some real possibility there and I think the coaches were real articulate on that this week.
Ernie Accorsi said a few months ago that you had approached him about helping the Lions in their GM search. Why was it important to you that they got some assistance for that search?
Goodell: That's not unusual. I would say that very frequently and multiple times a year I'm asked by ownership to assist when they're going through the process. My perspective on what the priorities should be and how they should do it. As you know I don't get involved in football decisions. That's not my position to do, but I am very happy to give them some insight into people who have the kind of knowledge that I think could help them and guide them through that process. There have been discussions about using outside sources, a search firm as an example. When you're dealing with a subset of football personnel, it's people like Ernie Accorsi who understand the personnel, understand what it's like to put an organization together, what's the appropriate structure, who these individuals are. They serve a much more valuable function and Ernie is someone that I have the highest regard for -- his experience, his integrity, his ability to help and I have, among other people, recommended Ernie on a frequent basis over the years and I'll continue to do that because we want all of our clubs to organize structure and to get to a better place. But I do that with all 32 teams equally.
Mark Davis has been exploring the possibility, the prospects in Las Vegas as a potential perhaps in the future. How concerned or open minded do you think the NFL would be to the idea of having a franchise in a city with an economy largely driven by gambling with the implications regarding sports betting?
Goodell: Mark Davis is appropriately looking at all of his alternatives. We were very open about that when we were in Houston and we made the decision to return the Rams to Los Angeles. Both for San Diego and Oakland. They need to evaluate those alternatives. I think their ultimate decision is a long ways off. There are several cities that have a tremendous interest in the Raiders. I'm hopeful also that Oakland will be one of those and that we can avoid any relocation to start with. Those are ultimately decisions about where they go and the impact that the potential gambling that we'd have to deal with. We'd have to understand it, we'd have to understand what the impact is on us and ultimately each owner would have a vote on that.
Does that represent a philosophical shift with the NFL?
Goodell: No. Relocations are always, as you know and we experienced it this January: one, painful, but two, subject to 32 teams' view about it. They each make their own decision on that. That would be a factor that I think many owners would have to balance, the league would have to balance, but until we got a hard proposal that really put that in front of us, we'd have to understand what the ramifications of that are.