NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was in Tampa on Friday morning for a breakfast fundraiser to benefit Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School. As part of his appearance at the Hilton Tampa Downtown, he talked about various issues the league is facing. Here are some highlights:
On when Tampa might host another Super Bowl:
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 Goodell, while in college, writing his dad to tell him he would be NFL commissioner someday:
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 the dangers of concussions and injuries:
I can tell you, having 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 and bullying involving the Dolphins and its role in football culture:
The primary importance for our players, our coaches, our trainers, our staffs (is) 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 everyone. 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 that preseason games cost as much a 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 expanding the playoffs to include 14 teams:
The thought is it would create more excitement … to have two more teams qualify for the playoffs. What I think is so unique about (the NFL) is that it's more and more competitive. … We're not just adding two teams to add two teams. … 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 2014 or for 2015. We'll decide that in a few weeks.
On criticism the NFL is saturating the TV market with prime-time 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.