NFL commish talks about Super Bowls, concussions, more
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was in Tampa on Friday morning for a breakfast fundraiser to benefit Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School, and as part of his appearance in a room of about 500 people in a ballroom at the Hilton Tampa Downtown, he talked with Times writer Rick Stroud for about 20 minutes about various issues the NFL is facing. Here are some highlights:
-- On Goodell actually writing his father in college, telling him he would someday be commissioner of the NFL: "I said I have two things I'd like to do in life. That's make you proud, and I'd like to be commissioner of the NFL. I'm sure he laughed, probably at both of them, but certainly the second one. ... It's always been my passion, always been my dream to work for the NFL. To serve as commissioner, I couldn't be prouder."
-- On Tampa not hosting a Super Bowl since 2009, or being awarded an upcoming game: "I'm convinced there will be another Super Bowl here in Tampa. I think it's just a question of when. The Super Bowl has become very competitive, a way of recognizing the tremendous value of having an event like this. New stadiums have come up all across the country. This community has always done a very good job with the Super Bowl. This is not a reflection on Tampa. It's a reflection on the competitiveness of this event. You have a great ownership in the Glazer family, a great stadium and a great community, and that's what we're looking for. For me, we will clearly be back here for the Super Bowl."
-- On the dangers of concussions and injuries inherent in playing football: "I can tell you, having played every sport, played three sports all the way through high school, I could not replace the values that I learned from playing sports. ... Football is the ultimate team game. That's where I got the discipline, the ability to understand more about yourself. Those are life lessons that I hope kids have a chance to (get by playing) football. ... The helmet is designed for protection, not designed as a weapon. We instituted a program we call 'Heads Up' to work with coaches across youth leagues to show proper techniques on how to tackle, how to keep them properly hydrated, all things to keep them safer. We believe that's what parents want, that's what the athletes want and it's good for our game."
-- On recent stories of hazing/bullying involving the Dolphins and its role in football culture: "The primary importance for our players, our coaches, our trainers, our staffs, we have to make sure that our workplace environments are professional. That they give us the opportunity to work and be successful. We obviously failed last year with that. It's given us an opportunity as a league to make sure we're training every one. We spent a significant amount of time with our ownership, our coaches, our general managers last month to make sure they understand the importance of this, what they can do to ensure that kind of environment in our facilities."
-- On complaints about preseason football carrying same prices as regular-season games: "I personally do not believe the quality of the preseason, and I think our fans agree with this, is up to NFL standards. It's not what we're about. It's necessary, important from a football standpoint ... but as a marketing platform for the NFL, I'm not excited about that. We're making a lot of changes in our policy. Several teams are changing their policy with variable pricing, where they're pricing the preseason differently than the regular season."
-- On potential to expand playoffs to 14 teams. Owners will discuss next month: "The thought is it would create more excitement as we do get down to the playoffs to have two more teams qualify for the playoffs. What I think is so unique about (NFL) is that it's more and more competitive. That's due to great coaching, great general managers, the system that we have ... we're not just adding two teams to add two teams. They actually have a chance to make it to the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl. Those 12 teams are afraid of the 13th and 14th teams, because they're pretty dangerous at that point in the season. I think it's something that will happen. I don't know if it will happen for '14 or for '15. We'll decide that in a few weeks. It's something with a great deal of appeal that I'm excited about."
-- On criticism that NFL is saturating TV market with primetime games on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays now: "We're sensitive to that. We've been very calculated and careful in the way we manage our content. Thursday nights started with 6-8 games, then extended to 13 and now we'll be playing 16 games. This has all been responding to the fans. Football season is really four months. It's pretty focused. We normally play 16 games on a weekend. Thursday night is a platform for us. We're confident ... this will be an extraordinary hit. We're comfortable we're not saturating the market."