Official NFL Release
NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL 2012 ANNUAL MEETING MEDIA AVAILABILITY PALM BEACH, FLA.
March 28, 2012
We had about an hour-and-a-half session this morning to discuss several of our initiatives in stadiums, particularly the fan conduct and stadium security issues to try to make our stadiums as safe as possible. We also had some discussion on a variety of other issues, including NFL Charities and our initiatives in that area. I would be happy to take your questions.
On ideas to curb fan violence in parking lots and tailgating: We have been at this initiative for several years. I think it is a matter of best practices. We don’t control all of our stadiums or outside of our stadiums as you know. But we do believe there are certain things that you can do that will make it a better experience and a safer experience for our fans. Our efforts will be to try to make sure that is adopted in every stadium, because we have seen results. We saw it this morning, when those initiatives are adopted; it does lead to a safer environment.
On if there should be a uniform code of conduct on how crowds are controlled or if the clubs should handle that individually: We don’t control all of those environments, so it may be difficult to do that. But there are certain elements that are uniform across the league. Stadiums are different, and there are different factors that have to be considered. But we do believe we have made progress in making our stadiums safer, but we have more work to be done as you saw this year.
On reaction to the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers and possible impacts on the L.A. market: I am not as close to baseball; obviously it is an extraordinary price [$2 billion]. From what I understand just from reports, it involves just the team and the land around it. I really don’t have anything beyond that.
On what he learned from the fans he was able to talk to regarding stadiums: I have the good fortune of hearing from fans directly throughout the year. The one thing that really struck me from the fans reaction was how important integrity of the game was. They put that as number one on their list. One of the fans articulated it in a very simple fashion: I want to know what I am seeing is real and that there are no outside influences. I think that resonated with people; it certainly did with me. This was a chance for us to have a dialogue and an interaction between all of the clubs, the Commissioner, and our fans. It was very well received, and I think we will probably do it again.
On if he is troubled that two suspended parties, Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis, are coordinating a replacement head coach: No. Again, ultimately the owner is going to have to make the final decision. They are suspended from operations during that period of time, but they are going to have to make decisions on how the Saints are going to be operated either as a group or however Tom Benson wants to do that.
On what he would say to the fans worried about the relationship between the league and the city of New Orleans: Listen, I understand the frustration of the Saints fans, and I have great respect for them. We will be there with them for Super Bowl at the conclusion of this coming season. I worked very closely as we were getting the Saints reestablished after the hurricane, so I saw firsthand the Saints passion and their fans’ passion. I clearly understand that frustration, but everyone has to understand that there are 32 teams, and everybody is going to have to operate by the same rules. If we don’t do that, the integrity of the game, and what fans love about the game, will be impacted negatively. And that is my responsibility.
On if league looking into potentially accepting casino ads and if that contradicts gambling concerns: If you look at us versus other leagues, we are not changing our position on sports gambling and betting against team sports. That is something we will continue to take a very strong position on. We have evolved very slowly over this, and in fact have kept a real distance between gambling and the NFL. We intend to keep doing that. But we have frequently modified that over the years. We do it on a regular basis, and we are doing it now.
On if he is OK with casino gambling ads: That is what we have to decide, and we will be over the next few weeks.
On the relationship between the NFL and the NFL Alumni group and concerns over their financial issues: I believe, in talking with the retired players, that they want an organization that is going to represent their interests. The Alumni was chosen by several groups, saying this should be the organization. We have provided loans, we have tried to do what we can to support that independence and allow them to get started. What we want that to be is a self-funding and independent organization. That is why we are willing to continue to try to help them get to that point. They have to stand on their own two feet at some point; otherwise you are not truly independent. That is what we are trying to do is give them that independence.
On where the line is on non-contract bonuses: We are not going to allow cash payments to go between players, including club involvement or no club involvement. That is impermissible. Our rules are quite clear. We will be sending them so they can see. We are going to take that element out of the game.
On a quarterback giving his linemen a Rolex watch at the end of the season: I would have to go back and look specifically on how that would fall under the policy. But we will get it for you so you can see it.
On if South Florida has a realistic shot at getting another Super Bowl without improvements to Sun Life Stadium and the timetable for the 2016 Super Bowl: Timetable for awarding the Super Bowl I believe is this fall. If it is not, it will probably be no later than a year from now. I do not know who is bidding on it. I know there will be quite a bit of competition for it, because I believe it is the 50th anniversary game, and that is an important game for us as a league. We are looking at plans to make it spectacular. If Miami is one of those cities bidding, we will certainly give it full consideration.
On the salary cap violations in Washington and Dallas and what constitutes an uncapped year: I have not spoken or heard anything directly from Mr. Burbank on a time schedule or any other proceedings. The only update I can say, as several of you are aware, is that we did vote yesterday to ratify the decision. The clubs supported that; 29 in favor, 2 opposed, and 1 abstention. So that is where we were. On 2010, I think the rules were articulated. I would have to go back and look at them, but the rules were quite clear. Whatever rules there were, they were followed.
On which teams were fined and how much for excessive player fines; if he thinks there was any impact: I believe you’re talking about our policy of: if you have an extraordinary number of violations on the field as safety violations. I don’t think the final count is in because there are still some appeals outstanding. The way the policy works is that if a particular team has so many violations in those categories, once it reaches a point, there’s also a team fine associated with that. The intent of it is simply to say, ‘We all have an obligation in player health and safety and if your team is violating those rules at a higher level then you as a team, including your coaching staff, have to determine how to get those players and the teams playing within the rules – to respect those rules.’ I don’t believe – my guess is that it won’t be more than a half a dozen clubs. That’s what it has been in the past. I think it’s four or five clubs.
How many teams have been fined: Again, I think because of the appeal process, I’m not sure that can be finalized. I am certain that some teams will exceed the maximum.
On having a timetable for wanting to make a decision on the penalties toward Saints players involved in bounty program; how that might impact the team’s timetable on preparing for the penalties: Yes. I’m sensitive of that. We certainly are going to proceed as quickly as possible. I had mentioned to you that I had spoken with several dozen of players. We have additional people we need to speak to and I think the most important issue is that I need to speak to the NFLPA – which I expect to do before the end of the week. I hope that they will be in a position to give me a recommendation at that point in time that I can consider.
On their discussions about player health and safety including any results to having independent neurologists on the sidelines to decide whether players can go back into a game: We didn’t. We’ve discussed that directly with the Union. The question is going to come down to – is that in the best interest of our players? I think both, the NFLPA and the NFL, believe that we should do everything possible to promote player safety. One concern that both the NFL and the NFLPA, have discussed is that medical judgments don’t seem to be the issue. . When the doctors are making those medical judgments – they make good ones – what we’ve been doing, including putting ATC spotters upstairs and to allow them to have video, is to make sure they can identify when an injury occurs so if a player doesn’t self-report, we can make sure those medical judgments are being made. While we’ll continue to discuss that, the general view from both parties to date has been that’s (neurologists on sidelines) not necessarily going to improve the medical care for our play players. I remind one other piece: once a player has sustained a concussion, they can’t come back until an independent neurologist has approved the fact that they’ve advanced that far – they can return to play.
On any closer to deciding on penalties for Saints players and his thoughts on Sean Payton media comments: I didn’t hear Coach Payton’s comments. I read a little bit of it in the media this morning. We had a meeting early yesterday. Coach Payton was in our meeting at 8:30 with the owners, general managers and head coaches. I’m not any further along in answering the first part of your question because I have been engaged here obviously in these meetings, but as I mentioned earlier, I expect to be reaching out to the NFLPA before the end of this week. We are scheduling additional hearings and discussions that we want to have to further our investigation so I can be in a position to make that decision.
On comparing teams that spent underneath what the estimated salary floor would have been in the uncapped 2011 season to the penalties levied against the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins: The issue – we issued the statement earlier this week – was did any teams gain a competitive advantage. That was the focus that the NFLPA and we had going forward. That is why we reached an agreement. We wanted to make sure coming out of this agreement that no one had a long-term competitive advantage. That is why the NFLPA and we agreed on it.
On if yesterday’s ownership vote was necessary to decrease the salary cap the Cowboys and Redskins: No, it wasn’t necessary to proceed. It is not unusual, though, that we would ratify decisions. It is the first meeting we have had since the decision was made. We do that on a relatively routine basis.
On the culpability of players involved in the bounty-rule violation compared to team personnel and eliminating player-organized non-contract pay-for-performance bonuses: I have been pretty clear that I hold coaches and executives to a higher standard. It is an important element of what the NFL is all about. It is clear from the information, though, that players enthusiastically embraced this and pushed this. That is troubling to me. I have said that before. We will have to look into who is involved, how much were they involved and what influence they had and I will have to do the best I can to make a judgment on how that should be handled from a discipline standpoint.
As far as going forward, we have made it clear and again this is what I would like to hear from the NFLPA because that was my exact question: ‘How do we eliminate this from the game?’ We do need the players’ cooperation to eliminate it from the game. They are a big part of this. If they feel this is important to the game, we need to find solutions for that.
On if the concussion return-to-play investigation involving Browns QB Colt McCoy warranted discipline to the club: It did not. The big changes we made since that occurred – we actually reviewed that during this week – is the trouble with when you have multiple injuries on one play. In fact, on Colt McCoy’s play, we did have multiple injuries. You have medical personnel who are on the sideline trying to monitor what is going on on the field in several different places. By putting the spotter upstairs and having video available, we can assist the medical professionals in identifying when an impact occurs that should be evaluated so the doctor can make the evaluation. When doctors have had the opportunity to make that evaluation, they make good judgments. We have complete confidence in that.
On discussing an 18-game regular season: We haven’t discussed that in a while. I have said on several occasions that I think we are going to have to go through this offseason cycle and try to see what the negotiated offseason cycle is like, the impact it has on the game, the impact it has on the individual players and then we’ll sit down and probably will be discussing it later this year or early next year.
On HGH testing and the hindrance caused by the NFLPA’s request to first acquire a population study consisting only of NFL players: If the population study was the only thing in the way from us reaching an agreement, we would have an agreement. Let me put it that way. We are prepared to do that if that resolves the issue. I sent an e-mail to (NFLPA Executive Director) De(Maurice Smith) before I left, and unfortunately, our meetings sort of crossed, but HGH was on that list and I expect by the end of the week I will be speaking to him about it again.
On if he spoke with Saints head coach Sean Payton during the meetings: I did. I went over and said good morning to him, shook his hand and welcomed him to the meeting. Then we got started.
On if they discussed Payton’s suspension: We were just getting started with the meeting. I entered the room and I went over and shook his hand and (Saints general manager) Mickey’s (Loomis).