COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL ON THE RICH EISEN SHOW
FEBRUARY 2, 2016
On his thoughts about Super Bowl 50 Opening Night:
I thought it was fantastic. You said it was fantastic, I thought it was too. I thought it gave our fans a glimpse into what media day is all about, brought it into primetime. We have more fans that had an opportunity to see it. I thought it was a fantastic night for our players and for our game.
On whether he likes the idea of having an opening ceremony:
I think it's the opening of a great week. We're celebrating the game, we're celebrating two conference champions, we're playing in the biggest game of the year in any sport and on the planet. It's a great platform in which to put our players and coaches. They've earned it. I think the fans love the opportunity. Yes, I think it's another way to extend the week of Super Bowl in a way that is very positive.
On Mark Davis' announcement to play in Oakland for the 2016 season and the future of the Raiders:
Well, Rich, as you know we're trying to keep our teams where they are. Any relocation is painful and I've said that. We lost the St. Louis market this year and while the Rams are going home, it's still a painful process. Fortunately, Dean Spanos made a similar announcement last week and said he's going to play in 2016 in San Diego and seek a long-term stadium solution for the Chargers and the San Diego community. I spoke to Mark Davis yesterday and he indicated he had a similar view – that he wanted to play the 2016 season in Oakland and wants to get a long-term solution in the Bay Area, in the Oakland market. For us, this is a positive thing, a positive thing for our fans. We just have to work to try to get those long-term stadium solutions so that teams can continue to be successful in those markets. They're great markets.
On if the one-year commitments by Mr. Spanos and Mr. Davis means other deals will be coming by both sides:
No, Rich, I wouldn't say that. I think there is an understanding that the league is willing – and the ownership did this when we voted on the Rams relocation to Los Angeles – to provide an additional $100M, so $300M of league funding could go into stadiums both in San Diego and Oakland. But the teams are going to have to step up, the league is going to have to step up and the communities are going to have to step up to find real solutions. During the relocation process it was clear that these communities said they don't have suitable stadiums for the long-term. They acknowledged that and they also acknowledged that there have been many failed attempts. Now we have to get a solution that we can approve, we can move forward on and that will allow the teams to succeed. I don't think a solution is anywhere near in place right now other than I think there is an agreement to work towards it.
On if there is any scenario under which the NFL ownership would approve a team to relocate to Las Vegas:
Ultimately, Rich, it's the ownership's decision. It requires 24 of the 32 owners to approve any relocation to any market. Obviously there are specific issues that would need to be discussed in the context of Las Vegas. But I think it's way premature at this point to be speculating on that. There's no proposals, there's nothing firm in any way. So I think this is something that at some point it may come up. But for right now we're not focused on that.
On when he arrives in San Francisco:
I'm coming tomorrow morning, I can't wait. It's actually sort of difficult to be here in New York where we're busy, but seeing all the fun that's going on in San Francisco I can't wait to be out there and participate.
On how the league has changed one year since Ray Rice:
The biggest thing is that we've updated our policies and gotten the kind of skill sets, the kind of people, involved with our decision making process that have that kind of expertise. We're no longer completely reliant on law enforcement. We support the work they do but we have revised our personal conduct policy so that we have our own investigations and we have our own ability to evaluate it against our own personal conduct policy. So it may not be a violation of law but it may be a violation of our personal conduct policy. We've seen a dramatic change. We passed that a year ago, December 2014 – and this past year we had the lowest level ever, a reduction of about 40, in player arrests. So it's having a positive impact, it's having a positive impact way beyond our players, even into our front offices where we hold them to the same standards – very high standards. That's what we expect in the NFL. We have made policy changes, the personnel changes and I think there is a tremendous amount of awareness because of the education that we've been doing with the Players Association, with our teams and I think people have really understood how to avoid these circumstances, these issues and make good decisions. And that's really what it comes down to.
On if the NFL conducted a scientific test to measure footballs and PSI throughout this season:
No, Rich, what the league did this year was what we do with a lot of rules and policies designed to protect the integrity of the game, and that's to create a deterrent effect. We do spot checks to prevent and make sure the clubs understand that we're watching these issues. It wasn't a research study. They simply were spot checks. There were no violations this year. We're pleased that we haven't had any violations and we continue the work, obviously, to consistently and importantly enforce the integrity of the game and the rules that are designed to protect it.
On if he has had any contact with Tom Brady:
My first obligation, as you know Rich, is to uphold the integrity of the game. That's to uphold the rules of the game and make sure all 32 teams are operating under the same rules, all players are operating under the same rules and you do that on a consistent basis. I have great admiration for Tom. I know him personally. Obviously I respect his playing ability – he's an extraordinary player – a sure Hall of Famer and I have nothing but admiration for him. But I have to make sure that we continue to do the things that are necessary to protect the integrity of the game and I will do that without compromise.
On if the NFL has investigated the "leads" in the Peyton Manning HGH allegations:
Of course, Rich. As you know, that report involved allegations that we take very seriously. They were allegations well beyond any individual player and we take those seriously. We're working with law enforcement, we're working with USADA, we're working with Major League Baseball, which is also involved, to make sure that we investigate that seriously, fully, thoughtfully and just like in any investigation we allow the facts to come about. That's where the focus is right now. We have players and others that have committed their full cooperation and that's important in the context of getting to the facts.
On what changes are required to the catch/no catch rule:
Well, Rich, this is something where I asked our Officiating Department in cooperation with the Competition Committee to bring some experts into the office, and we've had two meetings with Hall of Famers on the playing side, from the general managers side, from the coaching side. We've had two separate sessions where we went through all of the catch or no catch plays. We looked at the rule, we looked at how it's been applied, how replay intersects with this. I think what we heard from both groups, collectively, is that they're comfortable with the rule. We have to do a better job of communicating it, but what they all want to do is see no cheap fumbles; they don't want to see any cheap catches. They want to see players, when they go to the ground, retain the ball, come up with the ball and hand it to the official and not leave any doubt about whether they caught the ball. These are things that we are going to take to the Competition Committee. Ultimately they'll evaluate the rule and make a recommendation to the membership. But I was very struck by the degree of focus by the individuals that came in here. They were incredibly insightful and they helped us get to a place where we understand what's important in the rule. We need to make sure that we emphasize the important aspects of that rule and clearly communicate it to the public so that we can get the focus back on the field and allow these great players to do what they do out there.
On if the components of what makes a catch is the most difficult thing to quantify:
No, I think there are three elements to any catch. The first element is obviously possession. The second element is two feet down and the third element is time. There are several factors that go into that. Replay, now, with super slo-mo and the way they can stop it, sometimes it distorts the length of time it looks like somebody controls the football. We spent a great deal of time focusing on that time element and when you go to the ground, that's when the committee of great players and general managers and coaches talked about the fact that when you go to the ground you should retain control of that ball, come up with that ball and hand the ball to the official, and that is what a catch is. In fact, Jim Schwartz, who coached Calvin Johnson at the time when that play occurred a few years ago, said as soon as he saw it on the replay board that he knew it wasn't a catch. I think coaches understand the rules. What we have to do now is obviously properly apply those rules and consistently apply those rules. Replay is an added element and we have to figure out how that plays into the decision. But more importantly, I think we have to do a better job of communicating it publicly.
On if he would be open to making all plays reviewable:
That undoubtedly is going to come up again. We've had that discussion every year for the last five or six years. I think there's a balance that you have to take into consideration. There is a pace to the game. While you want to get things correct on the field, our officials to a spectacular job and our coaches would agree with this if you get them away from the moment of any particular outcome. A call may have gone in their favor or not gone in their favor, but the speed of the game, the quality of officiating is really at a very high level. But we are going to try to improve it and that includes using replay. If we can use replay effectively to fix the obvious errors – that's what it was intended to do – we're going to do that. But I don't think the game is ever going to be perfectly officiated. , It's impossible. A lot of these calls, as you know, are controversial because they're so close, there are people on both sides, and that's going to happen. As technology gets better it's going to happen even more. I'm proud of the work our officials do but we're going to continue to work and see what we can do to improve officiating.
On if Stephen Gostkowski's missed extra point in the AFC Championship Game was exactly what the league was looking for:
I don't think we were specifically looking for any outcome in any specific games. Obviously what we were looking for, Rich, was to make a play that, quite frankly, had been ceremonial. Our accuracy rate was 99.6 percent. These kickers have gotten so extraordinarily good, what we wanted to do was put more risk into that play and some more competition and focus. And we did that, our success rate dropped to about 94 percent, which is exactly where we thought it would be based on the analysis. And I think it brought back a play that as I say people had taken for granted, and it now has an impact on games. It happened at a very high degree this year where we saw a lot of missed kicks, and I think that's good for the game. It's good to create excitement with every play. We don't want any play not to have the potential for some impact on the outcome of the game. That's not what creates the excitement that our game brings.