On the final day of the league meetings in Orlando, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answered questions on a variety of topics, including the league's interest in returning to Los Angeles
On Wednesday, the final day of the 2014 NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, Commissioner Roger Goodell discussed issues ranging from the potential for more cold-weather Super Bowls to possible playoff expansion to the league's future in Los Angeles. A transcript of that question-and-answer session follows.
On the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl and the effect it may have on future Super Bowls being held in open-air stadiums in cold-weather cities:
"We discussed the Super Bowl in the context of what we achieved, the successes that occurred and things that we can do better. We do that every year following the Super Bowl and try to achieve a better event for our fans and for our teams. The overall reaction was positive. People believe that the Super Bowl was a great opportunity to put us on the number-one stage and promote the Super Bowl. There was a positive reaction to it. The only future discussion we had was really the bidding process in May and we already have three cities that are in that process."
On Woody Johnson reaching out to the NFL before signing Michael Vick and his thoughts on if Michael Vick is a changed person:
"I’ll refrain from sharing anything about the conversation, but I’ll be happy to talk about the general views toward Michael. Michael is a young man who made a tragic mistake. He paid a very heavy price for it, but I’ve seen him, in everything he’s done, exceed expectations. He has worked very hard to be a positive force in a lot of different areas. That’s something I admire about him. When we went through the process of reviewing whether he would come back into the league, he demonstrated that he was somebody who was committed to saying, ‘I am going to do this the right way. I am going to be a positive force.’ He has, and I’m proud of the work he has done. I think that’s the kind of thing we should have."
On if the league has thought about having a larger psychological evaluation for players:
"We’ve not only thought about it, we’re doing it. We look at the total wellness of an individual -- the physical wellness as well as mental wellness and then we try to give them the resources to try to be able to deal with that. We have definitely made great strides in that. That doesn’t mean we don’t have more work to do. We continue to focus on that."
On the details of players being reviewed for mental wellness and will Jonathan Martin be required to the same evaluation:
"The answer to your first question is that’s a medical decision. I’m not a medical professional. I’m not one that would dictate that. Those are done by the medical professionals that are joint medical professionals between the players association and the NFL. It’s their decision, the evaluation, and also whatever recommendations they might make."
On Jonathan Martin:
"I would have to check on that. I don’t know the details on that. I believe he has got some evaluation already."
On potentially expanding the playoffs and what are the next steps:
"We had a good discussion on it on several fronts. As you know, the Competition Committee has been looking at this for a couple of years. We have discussed it in various committees, including broadcasting. We had a full discussion on the floor with the owners and other executives this week. I think there’s a tremendous amount of interest in this, possibly even to the point of support, but there are also things we still want to make sure we do it right. We’ve been very incremental in trying to do this, but we believe competitively it could make even our races toward the end of our season even more exciting with more teams vying for playoff positions, which is great for our fans. We still want to do some additional work, including talking with the players association. We have a scheduled meeting set for April 8. This will be one of the things we’ll probably discuss and then we’ll also have to talk to broadcast partners and there are some scheduling issues that we still need to work through."
On if he wouldn’t make a decision on suspensions of the three Dolphins players until after the medical determinations:
"The medical evaluations are the priority, yes. From our standpoint, the medical evaluations will determine what happens. There will be no determinations until we have that information."
On memories of Ralph Wilson:
"Yesterday was a sad day for the NFL. For a lot of us in the NFL, he was a special man and someone that – coming from western New York, I know how much he did for the western New York region and I also know what he’s done for the NFL having seen it first-hand. As a commissioner, I saw that he’s a great owner. He was the kind of guy who was principled. He was strong. He understood when to compromise. He’s going to be missed by the NFL and by me, personally. I spoke to Mary last night and I’ll be at the funeral. He’s someone that deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He has really done incredible things for the league and pro football in general. That’s something that will be a great legacy for him."
On how involved the league was with the Dan Snyder’s announcement of the Redskins Foundation for Native Americans:
"We had been listening, but so has Dan. The point of his presentation is that he has been listening. He’s visited I think 26 different tribes. He’s been working very closely with them. He’s not only listened, he’s has learned, and now, he is taking action. He is trying to address some of the very important needs that they have identified when he has been having those meetings. That was a presentation completely by the Redskins. It was their initiative and I think the membership appreciated hearing that."
On discussions regarding workplace conduct:
"This is a professional workplace for everybody. That’s players, coaches, trainers, equipment men, executives. All of us expect that and it is our job to make sure we deliver that. I think this is going to be a collective effort. You’ve heard some of the coaches. We’ve had several different sessions discussing this with executives, owners and coaches. We are going to talk with our players on April 8 and that’s the focus of the meeting. We’ll talk about what we can do to ensure a professional workplace. I mentioned to you the other day that I met with 40 players from nine different teams over the last three months to discuss this. They want a professional workplace and we owe it to them. We are going to work with them to try to create that."
On making the locker room environment closer to the front office:
"You guys have all been there. Locker rooms are unique. There are unique things that we have to think about. We want them to be professional. We want them to be comfortable –everyone in that locker room – so they can focus on doing their job. That’s what we all owe them. We will be working with our players, our coaches, our executives and with outside experts. We will be going through a lot of training on the club level over the next several months and I’m confident that everyone understands the importance of it and embraces it."
On if he is monitoring Ray Rice’s legal issues and next steps:
"The answer to that is yes. And I don’t’ know on the second part. We will let the facts dictate that."
On federal investigation into Jimmy Haslam’s business:
"I don’t have any timetable on what the federal authorities are working on. So I don’t have any inside knowledge of that in any way. But there has been no reason for us to take any action as of now and we don’t have any indication that will occur. But we will see how things unfold."
On stadium proposal in Miami:
"We didn’t discuss that here with the full membership. We didn’t have a stadium committee meeting. That is something that will have to come to the stadium committee. I did speak to Steve [Ross] last week and I salute him for his commitment to try to bring a first-class stadium to that area. He is committed to it and I think he’ll achieve that. It will be great for the area, it will be great for the Dolphins and great for the NFL. I think lots of great events will come there as a result of it."
On speaker Wade Davis discussing gay athletes:
"I had the privilege of meeting Wade a few weeks ago. He came into our office and met with several of our executives. I found his message to be very important for all of us to hear. He’s part of the family that we all are in the NFL. He just wants to make sure we provide the kind of workplace where people can be comfortable playing football, and he wants to help us work to do that. He recognizes that everyone is not an advocate or someone who is going to carry the flag. But these are young men who want the opportunity to play in the NFL and they want to do it right. Our job is to make sure we provide that opportunity."
On message he hopes membership takes back to their clubs from Wade Davis:
"A better understanding of what these young men are thinking about and going through. Also, what they can do to provide the right opportunity and the right environment. That’s the key."
On the future of the Buffalo Bills:
"I haven’t focused on that. That’s not something I’ve spent any time on in recent days. My thoughts and my heart are with the Wilson family. We all know they have a lease. We know the terms of that lease and we also know we have to find a long-term solution to keep the Bills there and that’s what we will work to do. But that’s not the priority right now in the next few days."
On players being listed improperly on injury reports:
"It is of importance to us because we think that is an important policy. It has not been on my radar this week though."
On the Redskins name discussion continuing:
"This is something, to your point, that has been discussed for decades now. It comes up every once in a while. People have strong views on it. But I think Dan [Snyder] has been very responsive and has been listening. It’s also pretty clear when you look at public opinion here. When you look at the polls 90 percent of the Redskins fans support the name, they believe it’s something that demonstrates pride and the general population also supports it overwhelmingly. He’s trying to be responsive and he’s listening and recognizing that people have different views."
On interest level for team in Los Angeles:
"We’ve been very open that if we had the right opportunity to be back in Los Angeles with the right formula, meaning a stadium, most importantly. We know there are millions of fans who want a team there. We would love to do that, but it has to be successful. We are going to do it right if we are going to do it. There are different proposals out there and different opportunities but not one that we are focused on and can say that we have the right solution yet. We’re not there."
On franchises existing in Buffalo and Toronto:
"I’m not sure that I’ve studied that enough to know. I know there are a lot of fans that come –having been from Western New York. They are close from a proximity standpoint and there are fans that come from Toronto and there are fans that go from Buffalo up to Toronto. They have worked very hard in Buffalo, and obviously western New York and southern Ontario to regionalize that team to attract from a broader area. That is healthy for the team and they have drawn – in large part though that series – more fans from southern Ontario and the Toronto area. Again, that’s important and that’s something that we want to encourage."