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SB XLVIII NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell News Conference

February 1, 2014
INDIANA SPORTS PAGE



Opening Statement:

“Good morning.  I hope everyone’s had a great week.  We’re ready for Sunday’s game, and it should be a great one.  It was brought to my attention recently that Pete Rozelle said many years ago that the Super Bowl should be played in ideal conditions.  It got me thinking.  Pete Rozelle is a hero of mine.  The best commissioner in the history of sports.  Pete was an innovator.  He did something unprecedented when he took the NFL Championship Game and put it in a neutral site.  That was a radical idea at the time and the beginning of the Super Bowl.

 

“I believe Pete would be very proud of where we are this week.  We are doing something innovative and unprecedented.  Something consistent with the essence of football and the Super Bowl.  There has been a tremendous amount of energy and excitement about this Super Bowl.  This is the No. 1 market and a great stage for this Super Bowl matchup, and the world will be watching.

 

“One unique aspect about the focus for this year’s Super Bowl has been on the weather.  Of course, we cannot control the weather.  I told you we were going to embrace the weather; here we go.  We appreciate the magnificent job done by New York and New Jersey.  The forecast, despite what you see behind me, is terrific.  It’s football-ready and just to confirm, we will kick off at 6:30.

 

“Congratulations to the Seahawks and the Broncos.  The No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense.  Clearly the best of the best and the makings of a classic.

 

“The credit for putting this Super Bowl together goes first to the vision of Woody Johnson, John Mara, Steve and Jon Tisch.  Also to Al Kelly, Governors (Chris) Christie and (Andrew) Cuomo, Mayor (Bill) de Blasio and former Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg and the thousands of people that have worked so hard.  Thanks to each of you.

 

“It has been a terrific season by any standards, and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to give credit to the players, the coaches and the teams.  They make it happen.  Also to the world’s greatest fans for your football passion.  You make it special.  Thank you so much.

 

“Now we will go to your questions.”

 

The concussion settlement with the former players is on hold right now after Judge Brody questioned whether the amount of money they’ll be given is enough to pay everyone who this settlement applies to.  Do you fear that the settlement is in danger of being rejected, and, if it is, what will be the league’s next steps?

 

“What the judge did was she is taking her time.  She’s making sure that the settlement that was agreed to between the plaintiffs and our attorneys under the guidance of Judge (Layn) Phillips - who’s the mediator that was selected by Judge (Anita) Brody - that the agreement we reach is going to work the way we intend it to work.  The number one thing for us right now is to get the money in place so that we can help the players and their families if they need it, and that is our priority.  So, we are working with Judge Brody.  We’re working with all of her experts to convince her -- between the plaintiffs, Judge Phillips and ourselves -- that the settlement we reach can provide the kind of benefits that we intended, and we’re confident that we’ll get there.”

 

What can the Hispanic market in the U.S. and Latin America expect from the NFL in the coming years?

 

“One of our fastest growing audience segments is our Hispanic fans, both here in the states and throughout the world, and we’re proud of that, and that’s intentional.  We’re working harder to reach those fans, introduce them to the game.  Or, if they already are great fans, we want to give them more of the game.  You’re seeing that through all of our media offerings.  So, what we will continue to try to do is make those offerings even more engaging, find ways to get those fans the opportunity to be able to enjoy football.  When I was in Mexico not too long ago, it was like being in the United States as far as coverage.  We have great coverage down there, and what we’re trying to do is figure out new ways of engaging those fans.”

 

What’s your assessment of how things have gone here this week, and if you do have good weather Sunday and the game goes without a hitch, what’s your anticipation in terms of the interest of other cold weather cities hosting future Super Bowls - cold weather cities with outdoor stadiums - and how will you deal with that?

 

“There’s been a lot of planning for a lot of months and even years in making this Super Bowl successful, and that’s in large part because of the broad metropolitan area that we’re in.  It’s more complex being in a larger area where you’re crossing over states and different jurisdictions, but everyone has been fantastic.  I can’t say enough great things about the people that have been working on this, planning this, the officials who have supported every effort.  Super Bowl Boulevard is an incredible opportunity for us to share this with our community here in the New York/New Jersey region.  I think people are feeling the excitement and the energy, and that’s a great thing for us.  That’s what football’s all about.  That’s what the Super Bowl’s all about.  So this opportunity has been, I think, extraordinary, and something that we’re all going to look back as a very important time in our history.  As far as other communities, we know there’s interest in other communities hosting the Super Bowl.  I think the ownership - we’ll all sit back and review that when we’re done, but we have a very aggressive process in how to select cities.  The ability to host a Super Bowl is more and more complicated, more and more complex, because of the size of the event and the number of events.  So, the infrastructure’s incredibly important.  We’re well over 30,000 hotel rooms needed even to host the Super Bowl.  So, there’s some communities that may not even be able to do it from an infrastructure standpoint, but we know the passion’s there.”

 

You’ve spoken to us before about the battle between the improving at-home experience versus the in-stadium experience.  This year you had three playoff games come down to the wire and beyond before you were able to sell them out, including one in Green Bay with a passionate fan base.  How alarming was that to you and what’s the feedback so far on some of these in-stadium improvements that have been made and are suggested as far as whether they’re going to take hold and improve the in stadium experience?

 

“To your first point, I don’t take the challenges that we had on Wild Card Weekend as any reflection of our fans’ passion.  Those were mistakes that were made by us, the NFL, and our clubs.  What we have to do is recognize that technology has changed and that we have to use technology more efficiently and more intelligently to make sure we don’t put our fans in that kind of position.  Green Bay, as an example, sold close to 50,000 tickets over a five-day period, including New Year’s Day.  We shouldn’t be in that position, and that’s on us, and we have to fix it, and we will.  But that is not an indication in any way of the fans’ passion.  To the second part of your question: it’s an ongoing challenge.  With the experiences at home through our broadcast partners and all the other media alternatives that we have, it’s an incredible experience and it will continue to get better as technology advances.  What we have to do is say, ‘That’s a great experience, but let’s make the most important experience and the best experience, which is our stadium experience, better.’  Technology into the stadiums is a big part of it.  Making people feel safe when they’re in our facilities is a critical component.  But there is nothing like being in the stadium for an NFL game.  I was up in Seattle for the NFC Championship Game, and, if you want to feel energy, you go up to Seattle.  That’s around our league in various stadiums, and we will continue to make this a major focus and make sure that experience is a great one.”

 

Across the league, women have continued having an increasing impact in terms of fan interest, merchandise sales and all across the board.  Talk about the impact women have been making with member clubs as well as in the league office in executive positions to help build on the impact across the board.

 

“Well, you are so right on your premise.  Women are making a huge impact in our office and also at the club level.  Katie Blackburn and Charlotte Jones Anderson are leading committees, important committees, including the Super Bowl committee which Katie Blackburn is chair of.  They are making an important contribution and one that is making a difference in the way we operate, the way we do things.  I think you’re seeing it in the results.  Not only are we making decisions because we have a broader perspective and more diverse viewpoint, but you’re also seeing a tremendously growing audience level.  Women are really embracing the game.  We’re not doing anything special other than inviting them into the game.  If they feel comfortable being fans, they will.  They’re great fans.  I have one over here: my wife.  She knows the game.  So do my daughters who are only 12 years old, and they love the game.  So we want to make it accessible.  At the league office we have a number of executives: Michelle McKenna, who’s leading our IT, Renie Anderson, who’s leading our sales force, Anastasia Danias, who’s doing a great job in our legal department.  We have some great young executives that happen to be women that are going to make a huge difference in the NFL going forward.”

 

With the reported desire of these other cities to get a Super Bowl, if there was a city that had, say, good weather, built a new stadium, what could be their reasonable expectation to get multiple Super Bowls?

 

“There’s such a demand for Super Bowls right now.  The number of cities that are going to get multiple Super Bowls at one time I think are incredibly limited.  We see the opportunity for us to continue to expand our game, come into new markets, and we find that valuable to the league.  I think the membership does, and that’s reflected in how they voted.  Each market has its own challenges.  It is clear to see over the last two weeks, there have probably been more weather complications in a lot of other markets where we’ve played multiple Super Bowls and we’re scheduled to play more Super Bowls.  Weather is a factor when you play in the United States in February, and that’s what we’re going to have as a continuing challenge.  We’re prepared for that.  The communities in which we play are prepared for that, and that’s why we have contingencies.  I believe we need to get to as many communities as possible, and give them the opportunity to share not only in the emotional benefits, but the economic benefits.  It helps the NFL, it helps our fans, and it helps grow our game.  That’s what’s so exciting about being here in New York and New Jersey.”

 

The Kroenke organization confirmed today that it indeed purchased 60 acres of land adjacent to Hollywood Park, and I wonder, to what extent did Stan Kroenke inform the league, if at all, about buying this land, and what he plans to do with it?

 

“As you know, our policy is that they do have to keep us informed of any developments or anything that’s going on in the Los Angeles market, by policy.  Stan is a very large developer on a global basis.  He has land throughout the country and throughout the world.  He has kept us informed of it.  We’re aware of it.  There are no plans, to my knowledge, of a stadium development.  Anything that would require any kind of stadium development requires multiple votes of the membership.”

 

My follow-up would just be, what would you say to the millions of St. Louis Rams fans out there who see this as a fairly aggressive step towards Los Angeles and the Los Angeles market?

 

“Exactly what I just said to you.  Stan is a very successful developer.  He has billions of dollars of projects that are going on around the country in real estate development.  So I think instead of overreacting, we should make sure we do what’s necessary to continue to support the team locally, which the fans have done in St. Louis, and make sure we can do whatever we can to make sure that team is successful in the St. Louis market.”

 

The health and safety is of paramount importance to the league.  That’s very apparent.  There appears to be significant medicinal benefits from marijuana.  There are two states, Washington and Colorado, which both legalize the use of marijuana that any citizen of that state could use, but yet in the NFL, they still randomly drug test, specifically for marijuana.  Isn’t it time to not advocate for marijuana, but simply stop testing for marijuana in the NFL and to just abide by what legal state rules there are? And would you be willing to randomly test for marijuana?

 

“To first answer your question, I am randomly tested and I’m happy to say I am clean.  The second issue is that this has been something that has been asked several times and I’ll try to be as clear as I possibly can.  It is still an illegal substance on a national basis.  It’s something that is part of our collective bargaining agreement with our players.  It is questionable with respect to the positive impact, but there is certainly some very strong evidence to the negative impacts, including addiction and other issues.  So, we’ll continue to follow the medicine.  Our experts right now are not indicating that we should change our policy in any way.  We are not actively considering that at this point in time. But down the road sometime that is something we would never take off the table if it could benefit our players at the end of the day.”

 

Are you concerned that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of stadium negotiations going on in St. Louis?

 

“I think there’s been quite a lot of activity.  You know better than I do, but there’s been a lot of discussions about the lease about the future of the dome and how that would play into the future of the team.  So I think there’s been quite a bit of discussions.  Active negotiations, I don’t know if you’d put it in that category, but there’s been a lot of discussions.”

 

Just as a follow-up – the league has let it be known that it controls the LA market.  Could you elaborate on just what that means?

 

“Well, at the end of the day, any team that potentially could relocate into Los Angeles, or any other market, is subject to three-quarters vote.  So 24 owners have to approve any relocation in any stadium development.”

 

I’m sorry to go back to the international scenario, but the state governor of the Amazon of Brazil said during a recent interview that the new stadium they’re building for the upcoming World Cup was considering two major events: an Elton John concert and an NFL game.  Is the league really considering expanding to Brazil or are any other countries other than London in the upcoming years?

 

“Well, as a big fan of Elton John, I’m happy to be in that category.  That’s terrific.  We have not heard directly from any officials in that area.  We’re always interested in expanding our game.  Our focus, as you know, has been in the United Kingdom.  We are playing three games this year there and I’m happy to report that all three games are sold out.  We’re seeing that kind of passion and that kind of excitement about NFL football on a global basis.  Our games, when we play them, just as in the United Kingdom, are done with a strategy.  They’re done with media coverage, with licensing partners and trying to build the fan base from the ground up.  It has been a very successful model in the United Kingdom and we’re thrilled about what’s happening there and we’ll continue to follow that.  If we have opportunities in other areas of the world, we’re doing that and technology is our friend here.  We’re able to communicate more directly with our fans on a global basis and that’s why we’re excited about new technology and new developments, like NFL Now that we announced yesterday.”

 

As you know, Josh Brent was convicted last week.  Have you had any contact with him or any of his representatives about a return to football since he was convicted? The second part of that, I know you’ve partnered with MADD.  Can you talk about where you are in those efforts and what you’ve done to try and get drinking and driving out of the game?

 

“The first part of your question; no I have not.  The second part of your question is; we have expanded on our relationship with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  We’re very proud of that relationship.  We use it not only in our parking lots to help our fans get in and out of our facilities safely and be more aware of what’s happening around them.  In addition, we want to do more on the education of our teams.  That includes front offices, that includes the players, the coaches, and that includes our office.  We recently had a MADD event in our office.  We have to recognize in the NFL we are on a big stage and when something happens that reflects poorly on us, that’s a negative for all of us.  MADD has been a great partner in educating us and the number one point that they make to me is that these are 100 percent preventable.  All we have to do is be a little bit more mindful of it and take the proper steps to avoid these types of tragedies from happening and that’s our responsibility.”

 

In light of the league’s whole-hearted endorsement of Fantasy Football, which is a multi-billion dollar industry, how does the NFL justify its continued opposition to legalize sports gambling, and do you see that changing in the future?

 

“I don’t, and, as you know, we’ve fought legalized gambling, sports gambling, for a long time – most recently here, in New Jersey.  And I would see our position in the same vein going forward.  We don’t put Fantasy Football into that category at all.  I like to say my favorite story about Fantasy Football is a father who had sort of disconnected with his young teenage daughter, and Fantasy Football brought them back together again, and now he’s playing in a father-daughter league with other fathers and daughters.  Fantasy has a way of getting people to engage with more with football, and they do it in a fun, friendly, and in this case, a family manner, and I think that’s great for families, I think it’s great for friends, and I think it’s great for football.”

 

On-field instant replay review – there’s been some discussion.  FOX’s Mike Pereira mentioned going to the league office in New York for all instant replay reviews.  Is that a legitimate possibility, or will it remain in the stadium, on the field, moving forward?

 

“The most important thing for us – we think there’s plenty of room for us to improve the game of football and officiating, in particular.  What we all want is consistency, fairness in our officiating, and we believe that we might be able to achieve more consistency when we bring instant replay with us – more of a centralized version and decision-making process – and that’s something the Competition Committee is going to consider over the next two months and come back to a recommendation for the membership.  I do believe there’s a possibility that some version of that will occur where our office can at least be involved with the decision.  May not make the decision, but can at least provide some input that would be helpful to the officials on the field to make sure they’re seeing every angle, to make sure they have the proper opportunity to make the best decision.”

 

With the recent situation at Northwestern University, with the athletes being led by Kain Colter, their quarterback, in an attempt to perhaps effectively form a union that they would then bargain with the NCAA, or whatever unions might do.  I wonder if you have any thoughts about that, seeing as how players from American universities comprise virtually all of the players in the NFL.  Do you have any thoughts about the benefit of that or do you think it’s misguided, or how it might actually effect the NFL?

 

“Well, you know this is recent news.  I haven’t really had a chance to think about it as it relates to how this could have an impact on us long term.  So, I don’t have an answer directly for you at this point.  But, I also have learned enough in this job that until you have the facts to understand a little bit more about what is happening, particularly in something that is not directly related to you, it is better to withhold any judgment until you have had a chance to understand that.  That’s how I feel about this.  It seems like there is a long road, a lot of decisions, a lot of discussion that has to take place.  We will follow that closely and when a decision is made we will see where we go from there.”

 

What should fans of the Atlanta Falcons expect if they decide to make the trip over to London next season?

 

“I think they’re going to be amazed at the passion for football over there.  When I go over for the games in London, I am continually amazed at the depth of knowledge for the game of football and the experience that they help provide in that stadium.  I think all 32 teams are represented at every one of those games.  There are different jerseys and fans coming from all over, not just the UK and not just the London area.  I think they’re going to be amazed.  It will be a wonderful experience.  It is a great way to highlight the wonderful attributes of the Atlanta area by bringing the Falcons over there and talking about the connection of the Falcons in Atlanta and now London.  I see it as a great benefit for the fans and for the communities.”

 

Can you tell us the thoughts of ownership on a potential London franchise across the ownership group, and also are we a step closer to a London franchise than we were this time last year, given that we’ve now sold out three games?

 

“I’ll tell you that I believe that the response to the third game in the UK and the way that the fans have embraced that – sold that out in such a short period of time – is just another indication that the more we give fans in the UK of NFL football, the more they want.  That’s a great tribute to the fans there and their passion.  And I believe you are further down the road because you are now three games into it.  What our next step is, I don’t know.  That’s something we’re going to have to evaluate.  We believe that we will continue to grow there and that’s going to take work.  We’re going to have to continue to invest in that marketplace and find ways to engage those fans even more deeply.  I’m optimistic that they’ll respond favorably, as they already have.”

 

My name is Khordae, and I’m an NFL Rush kid reporter.  As a commissioner, you have to make many tough choices.  What have some of your hardest been, and do you regret any of them?

 

“(Laughs) Khordae, we don’t have enough time to talk about all of my regrets, I can promise you that.  But it’s a very good question.  You know, as commissioner of the NFL, your first responsibility is to do what’s best for the game for the long term – and the fans.  That’s your responsibility.  As a league, you have to reach out.  You have to talk to the players, the coaches, the owners, our partners, and make sure you understand all perspectives before you make decisions.  Sometimes those decisions aren’t so popular, but they are always done in the best interest of the league.  Many of the decisions that I have, I have to go convince 24 owners to approve.  We have great ownership, they always think long-term.  They do what’s in the best interest of the game – not just necessarily their franchise (but) what’s in the best interest of the game long-term.  That’s where we are.  That’s why I’m so proud of what we’ve done as a league.  You have a very good question and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, by the way.”

 

With all of the logistics and all of the planning and so much focus on the weather, with the current forecast mid-40s and cloudy, is some part of you a little bit disappointed that it won’t be a true, snowy, cold weather Super Bowl?

 

“We came here expecting that we were going to be playing obviously in February, in New York, and that the weather could vary.  We still may have colder weather than we anticipate right now.  It looks like it’s going to be a lot warmer than we anticipated, but no, this is going to be a great experience.  As I said earlier, we’re on the world’s greatest stage with the biggest game.  This is an opportunity for people to really shine in the way they have an opportunity to talk about their community, demonstrate the greatness of the game of football and we have two great teams.  People are overlooking the great teams that we have here.  They have earned their way here.  They are both number one seeds.  We have the great veteran quarterback against a great young quarterback.  I think the storylines, I think the game itself, is going to carry the day, and it should, by the way.”

 

Where does the league stand at this point on the possibility of expanding the regular season or the postseason?

 

“We always look at our season structure, from preseason to regular season to postseason.   There has been a great deal of focus over the last year on if we would make any modifications to our postseason.   We currently have 12 teams qualify for the playoffs, as you know.   We are looking at the idea of expanding that by two teams to 14.   There’s a lot of benefits to doing that.   We think we can make the league more competitive.   We think we can make the matchups more competitive towards the end of the season.   There will be more excitement, more memorable moments for our fans.   That’s something that attracts us.   We think we can do it properly from a competitive standpoint.   This will continue to get very serious consideration by the Competition Committee and then the ownership will have to vote on it.”

 

We play one of America’s most dangerous and most lucrative games, but still we have to fight for health benefits.  We have to jump through loops for it.  Why doesn’t the NFL offer free healthcare for life, especially for those suffering from brain injury?

 

“First off, we had lots of discussions about that in the collective bargaining process.  We went back and improved a lot of our health benefits, both for former players and for current players, to the point where I think that the health benefits that are provided to current NFL players are the best in the world, and so I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do with the union in improving those benefits.  We all still have a lot of work to do for former players.  The cost of trying to provide healthcare for every player that has ever played in the league was discussed with the union.  It was determined that these changes were the best changes, and that’s what we negotiated, but we’re all proud of the efforts that we made.  We will continue to make more efforts and do a better job, particularly with our former players, in providing them opportunities and to give them the proper healthcare.  And our programs - as an example, the 88 Plan, for anyone who has dementia or any other kind of neurological disorder - that’s there for the players and their families for a lifetime.  So we have programs that are addressing those issues, that we have created, the owners have created on their own, and we also have several of them that were created with the union.”

 

The controversy over the (Washington) Redskins name has ramped up over this past year.  We know your stance and the team’s stance and what we don’t know at this point is would you feel comfortable calling an American Indian a ‘Redskin’ to his or her face?

 

“I’ve been spending the last year talking to many of the leaders in the Native American communities.  We are listening.  We are trying to make sure we understand the issues.  Let me remind you, this is the name of a football team, a football team that has had that name for 80 years, and has presented the name in a way that has honored Native Americans.  We recognize that there are some who don’t agree with the name and we have listened and respected them.  But if you look at the numbers, including in Native American communities, in a Native American community poll, nine out of ten supported the name.  Eight out of ten Americans in the general population would not like us to change the name.  So, we are listening.  We are being respectful of people who disagree, but let’s not forget this is the name of a football team.”

 

Have you ever thought about moving the game to Saturday night, and if so, do you think that would improve ratings?

 

“We actually thought about moving the game to Saturday night this year (laughs).  Not because we wanted to necessarily, but because we wanted to be prepared for the weather.  You know, there’s discussion about that from time to time.  Our network partners and the NFL believe that we’ve created a wonderful Super Sunday, and that the timeframe that we’re playing this game, at 6:30 on Sunday night, is really the best way of sharing it with the broadest audience on a global basis.  So, I don’t see that changing in the very near future.  It hasn’t been something that our network partners have asked us to do.  Again, we were prepared to do that this year, but I don’t see that changing in the very near future.”

 

In light of the (Richie) Incognito-(Jonathan) Martin situation in Miami, is the league considering coming up with any sort of player code of ethics or conduct that would be uniform across the league and posted in every locker room?

 

“The answer to your question is yes.  Our No. 1 priority is to make sure that we have a workplace environment that’s professional, recognizing that we have some unique circumstances.  But we have to make sure that our players and other employees have that kind of professional workplace environment.  I’ve already begun discussions with outside parties.  I’ve discussed it with the union.  I’ve also discussed it with several groups of players, individually and collectively, to talk about the circumstances.  What needs to be done?  What do we all want?  And the No. 1 thing I hear, and the No. 1 thing that I believe is we all need to get back to respect.  It’s respect for each other, respect for the game, respect for your organization, respect for your opponents and the game officials.  So, we’re going to focus on this in the offseason.  Some of it will be education; some of it, possibly, could be policy change.  But we’re beginning that dialogue and we’re far into that dialogue.  And I do expect changes as we go forward.  Maybe not as much in policy as it is in making sure we provide that professional kind of workplace.”

 

You mentioned some of the considerations that go into a Super Bowl selection.  Do you feel with how smoothly things have gone here in New York – does that boost the chance that Denver may one day host the Super Bowl?

 

“Things have gone well here in New York because of the commitment.  The people who have put the bid together did a fantastic job, led by the two teams, the Jets and the Giants.  They have fulfilled every one of those commitments.  The local officials have found solutions to problems, and have been creative, and have done a great job and that’s why we have a successful event here.  But it takes that no matter what market you’re in, whether you’re in Denver, or whether you’re in New York, or whether you’re in Houston or in Arizona next year.  These events are very complex.  They take a tremendous amount of planning.  That’s why we select our Super Bowl sites three or four years in advance, and we get to work on it right away.  And so it’s a team concept.  We have to work very closely with our people and with the local officials in making sure that we do this in the right way.”

 

What are the odds for another cold weather Super Bowl?  And second, the Wall Street Journal commissioned a 1,200-pound ice sculpture of you.  Are you aware of it, and what are the odds of you coming over to visit?

 

“Somebody mentioned that ice sculpture to me the other day and I said, ‘Well, it’s better than a float.’ So that’s not so bad compared to what I had last year.  I don’t know.  I haven’t seen the ice sculpture.  It sounds like it might melt a little bit, but I understand that there’s a lot of focus on the weather here.  I’d like to think that we’re going to get focused on the game for the next three days.  That’s really what this is all about.  We have two great teams that have earned their way here, and I think it’s going to be a great Super Bowl, so ice sculptures aren’t really my focus right now; that game is.”

 

To follow up on the question about centralized video review, the National Hockey League has such an operation at the headquarters in Toronto where five or six individuals only make the rulings on all disputed plays in 1,200 games.  You sent Jay Reid there before on November 30 to observe their operation.  Is that the model you’re looking at perhaps implementing with the NFL?

 

“We created the replay system back in the early ‘90s for all of professional sports.  We always make changes to our replay systems and we’re not afraid to try to learn from others who may be doing it differently.  Our system is unique.  It will be different than the NHL’s system in any case.  We have replay that probably deals with a lot more plays than the NHL does.  We have to modify this for the NFL.  It has to work for us.  Again, we’re going to go out and we’re going to learn from anybody and try to understand the technology better, but at the end of the day this is going to be a system that is unique to the NFL.”

 

Yesterday, your health and safety committee released figures showing that concussions were down 13 percent this year.  With all the extra diagnostic tools you have and eyes on the game and sideline doctors, you would think that concussions might go up just because they’re better able to find them.  Can you describe why they might have gone down?

 

“I think it’s because we made changes in the game.  We made changes to the rules, we made changes to our equipment and there’s been changes in the way we deal with concussions when they do occur.  We try to do everything we can to prevent them, but when they do occur we manage them effectively.  All of the changes that you outlined there are having an impact.  More broadly, I think it’s a reflection of the culture.  There’s greater awareness.  There is a more conservative approach over a long period of time.  We have added other elements that will identify this injury.  I think there was a period of time where the concussion rate went up because there was that awareness.  There was that acknowledgement because those injuries are current players coming forward.  We have worked harder to get them to come forward, but also have systems in place to identify them even if they don’t come forward.  I give a great deal of credit to our medical teams and to our clubs and to our players.  The culture is changing and changing for the better.  The game is safer, it’s more exciting and it is more popular than ever.”

 

Tell us about your acting experience in ‘Draft Day’, and will the 2014 Draft feel like déjà vu because of the movie?

 

“Yes, for those of you that don’t know, there’s a movie coming out called ‘Draft Day,’ focused on the Cleveland Browns. I am not an actor, you will see that clearly. The fortunate part of it is, I just have to do what I’m doing normally at the Draft. I did get a chance to see the movie, and I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s something fans will enjoy and will bring the Draft even greater visibility. That’s good for football fans. I look forward to seeing it in the theatre. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of criticism about my part, but it wasn’t extensive as you’ll find out.”


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