(On what can be done to curtail misbehavior by players off the field) “We have to do something about it. I think it’s an incredibly important issue. One incident is too many in my book. I think we need to reevaluate all of our programs. We have a tremendous number of programs to help our players that have been quite successful. But I think we’ve got to do more. We are going to start that process, one, by evaluating our policy. Two, (NFL Players Association executive director) Gene (Upshaw) and I are going to put together a group of players that we’re going to meet with in the next several weeks to give us their perspective on what’s really happening and what are the issues so that we can try to learn something first. I think our focus has to be on reevaluating our policies, making sure we educate our players to the issues that are out there. We continually tell our players and our coaches that we are raised to a higher standard in the NFL, and we have to exceed that standard. We have to make sure that our players are more accountable and also our clubs have to be more accountable, and we will be reevaluating our position to see if there are ways in which we should make our clubs more accountable in the offseason. … I don’t see (the incidents) happening in droves. I think it’s just a few, but that’s a few too many. We recognize some players don’t do what we want them to do and when that happens, we have the means to deal with it.”
I was impressed that Goodell didn’t try to brush it under the rug, or act like it isn’t a big deal. It is, and he said as much. I’m glad the NFL [at least says it] is trying to get the player behavior under control.
(On nine different players being arrested in 13 months in Cincinnati) “I think it’s something we have to address. From our standpoint, we have talked with (Bengals owner) Mike (Brown) on several occasions. We have offered services and he has taken our services to try and address these issues. It’s part of what Gene and I are going to be talking about to the players in the next several weeks to understand what happens in these particular markets. Why is it happening in one market versus another market? What is it that the players need in support or education? And we’ll do that very aggressively over the next several months.”
Again, good job by Goodell emphasizing that the NFL is working on it. The only thing that would make me happier is Chris Henry getting kicked off the team along with all the other multiple arrest players in the NFL, but the NFLPA would never allow it.
(On whether the fact Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith are the two first African-American coaches to reach the Super Bowl will prompt an increase in the number of African-American coaches in the NFL, as well as the number of African-American club executives) “Yes. Most importantly, we’re proud of Tony and Lovie as great football coaches. They’ve meant a great deal to the NFL. They’re people of incredibly high character. To see the success they’ve had on the field is very rewarding for all of us. It is obviously of particular note that they are African-Americans, and the success that they are having on the field is something that we’re very proud of. But I know that they want to be remembered and thought of as great football coaches and they are in the NFL’s eyes.”
What people don’t seem to realize is that six out of thirty two (the number of black head coaches) is a great percentage of blacks than in the general public. That is, in the general American public, fewer than six out of thirty two people are black. If anything, blacks are far over-represented in the league. The last thing we need is a bunch of affirmative action crap.
(On the state of officiating) “We’re very proud of our officiating. It has been something that we’ve had a tremendous amount of focus on to make sure we have the best officiating in sports. We think we do. We have an instant replay system that is able to look at the errors that might be made. They are, fortunately, very limited. And we have a system that does that without trying to make a tremendous impact on the pace of the game but (instead) allowing the game to flow and allowing the teams to be able to challenge when something happens. You can’t cover all ills, you can’t cover every penalty, but we think that the system, while we continue to evaluate it, has been quite effective.”
I know he has to say that, but the officiating in the NFL the last two years has been largely crap. Even as a Steelers’ fan I know last year’s Super Bowl was poorly officiated (no, it did not in any way affect the outcome, though). The NFL needs to work really hard on the officiating, and suspend some of the poorer referees, because we’re starting to have absurd things like Kiwanuka letting go of Vince Young on that 4th and 10 play in the Titans-Giants game because he was afraid he’d get a RTP call. That’s not right.
(On the status of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association, and the possibility of owners exercising their legal right to opt out of the deal in 2008, two years before it is due to expire, because they believe it is too costly) “The first thing we have to do is a great deal of analysis. We’ve had a great system with the Players Association for a long period of time. We have a new agreement that we’re operating under. It obviously has new mechanisms and has new aspects of the deal that we’re going to have to evaluate to make sure that they’re working not only for the NFL but also for the players. From our standpoint, I know that there is some concern about the cost of the deal, but we have to do that evaluation. I would urge all of us to be patient, to understand it, to get the evaluation. It is our responsibility, with the players, to strike a reasonable agreement that works for all parties and be assured at least that we will have labor peace through 2010. We will have a lot of work to do. We will be in contact with Gene and his team, but I feel confident that we’ll be able to address the issues as we go forward because we have a responsibility to do that.”
I have to admit I’m not one of the lawyer types, so I don’t follow this kind of stuff too closely, because it mainly makes my head hurt. I think lawyers are lawyers because they are smart enough to write in enough technical jargon that everyone in the general public is totally and completely bewildered. But I digress. The NFL did an amazing job salvaging things with this latest CBA, and if the NFLPA doesn’t get too anal, I think things will work themselves out.
(On blood-testing players for human growth hormone and steroids) “We announced changes last week to our (steroids testing) program. We think this reinforces the fact that we’re leaders in this area. We believe that our program is high quality. We think that we have a program that we can be very proud of and our players can be very proud of. And I’m very proud of players for the fact that they also want to eliminate performance-enhancing drugs. As it relates to HGH, there is no reliable test for HGH right now. We are investing money to develop that test. I don’t know whether that would be a blood test or urine test. We are going to pursue both. Until that technology is developed, I think it’s premature for us to make any decisions on it.”
The only thing that could make it better is harsher punishment for offenses. First time is a one-year suspension (sixteen regular season games and all playoff games), second time you’re out of the league.
(On allegations by former New England linebacker Ted Johnson that the Patriots rushed him back into practice after he sustained a concussion) “It does concern me. From our standpoint, we want to make sure that our players have the safest possible environment in which to play. We have spent a great deal of time and energy on the concussion issue. We’ve had a concussion committee that has been studying this issue from a medical standpoint, including 12 doctors — five from the outside and seven from the NFL — that have been looking at this issue and trying to see what it is we can learn about concussions that would be helpful as we would go forward. That’s led to new helmet designs, that’s led to rule changes, and I think a safer environment for our players, which is what we’re after. I didn’t know about the Ted Johnson issue until yesterday afternoon, which also disappoints me. I would like to know about this, our staff would like to know about this, in advance so that we can identify these issues further in advance.”
As people have started to comment, concussions are a lot more serious than they are made out to be by NFL players and coaches, but Johnson’s claims have no credibility. He’s on record saying that he was willing and wanted to play right after the concussion, and that Belichick didn’t force him. His claims are serious, but he’s not the one to be making them.
(On the NFL Network’s coverage of eight regular-season games in 2006 being unavailable in markets where it does not have carriage deals with cable TV operators) “We’re very proud of the NFL Network. It has been extremely high-quality programming. We think it’s been terrific at giving fans another perspective of football that they wouldn’t normally see because it’s 365 days, 24 hours a day. That’s what we’re trying to build — something to give fans an opportunity to experience football in ways that they haven’t been able to do in the past. We think it’s going to be extremely successful. I think I’d point out to our fans it’s part of our building process, but we showed every one of our football games on live, free television. And that’s important and we will continue to make sure that that’s an emphasis going forward.”
What I wouldn’t give for the NFL Network.
(On putting an NFL team back in Los Angeles) “We need to find a solution in Los Angeles that works for both the community and the NFL. It’s important for us to be in Los Angeles long term, but we have survived quite well without Los Angeles and Los Angeles as survived quite well without the NFL. But I think we can do better together. We’d like to find a way to do that in a way that works for all parties.”
I could care less. The people of Los Angeles could care less. The only people that have a dog in this fight are the folks that run Los Angeles and the NFL. In other words, the people with money at stake. No one else cares. For some reason, though, the NFL seems determined to get this done, so I’d expect a team in LA by 2012.
Transcription by Vic Carucci at NFL.com.