Commissioner Goodell: Good afternoon. We had a very productive day. You have heard much of the news already starting with the Super Bowl awards that went very smoothly. We had five terrific bids – obviously three winners – and we’re very excited about each of those Super Bowls.
We spent some time on Competition Committee matters, probably the most significant being instant replay. We changed the structure and reversed the structure in a very positive way including the fact that Dean Blandino and our New York office will be able to get involved with respect to administrative issues – enforcements of penalties, the clock – which I think could be a positive. We’ve done that in the postseason in the past and that was a positive change.
Health and safety: we spent a very significant time this morning on health and safety. We heard from a report from our committee that met earlier today focusing on additional work both in engineering and what we can do as to creating a road map to better equipment, better engineering, and helmets in addition to additional medical research. We’ll be giving you some further detail on that sometime in the very near future.
We also heard from our International Committee. We have a very sizeable and growing fan base internationally and our global business is really taking hold. Mexico is an example. Mark Waller [executive vice president of International] mentioned today that we have 110,000 registered for tickets each with the capability of buying four tickets. So we’re very excited about the enthusiasm and the interest in the game down in Mexico City this year and or international games in the U.K. continue to amaze us, frankly. The passion and the interest of our fans is really quite extraordinary.
I’m happy to take your questions.
It’s my understanding that LA achieved a super majority on the first move. I wonder if you’ve seen that before and what that indicates about the appetite for a Super Bowl in Los Angeles?
It is true. I think it’s a reflection of the vision that Stan [Kroenke] has identified. I think it’s the importance of a Los Angeles market being the entertainment capital of the world. It’s also a reflection of the passion of the fans there that we are feeling since we made the decision back in January to return the Rams to Los Angeles. It’s rather unusual on the first vote. I don’t recall whether I’ve seen it before, but I think it is very much a reflection of the excitement the ownership has of returning to Los Angeles, the importance of having a Super Bowl back in L.A. after several decades. We’re all interested in coming back with a great deal of enthusiasm and this is a reflection of that.
Do you have any response or a statement to the Union’s filing on behalf of Tom Brady yesterday in court for another appeal and if they do get this appeal heard, do you envision the League trying to stand in Tom Brady’s way from playing at all during the season?
I respect the NFLPA’s ability to appeal if they chose to do that. They did. That’s a matter for the lawyers and we’ll see how things progress. But I’m really not focused on that at all.
I’ve talked to a number of Oakland officials including the mayor as recently as yesterday and they all expressed – and this goes back the last 12 months – concerns that the Raiders are not negotiating with them in a way that they can trust. When I point out to them that the NFL relocation bylaws call for negotiating in good faith, they say they have no confidence in the National Football League’s desire to police that. Can you clarify what’s become, behind closed doors, a very big mess?
I think this has been a very transparent issue. I spoke to the mayor last night at ten o’clock, so I’m in touch with her. I’ve told her before if there are proposals or solutions that she can identify or that we can help them identify. We have given from an ownership standpoint, another $100 million – a total of $300 million to get a stadium built in Oakland. We believe in that market. I know Mark Davis does, but there has to be a solution that’s developed. It’s not just on us, there’s got to be a cooperative agreement to try to find that solution. It’s been a long time coming, as you know. This isn’t something that started 12 months ago. This has been a long time that we have been seeking a solution in Oakland, and it’s time to get to that, and we will play our part, and I know the Raiders will also.
Is it a big concern that Mr. Davis is perhaps playing his own game and not following anybody else? And this has to do with Las Vegas-UNLV President Len Jessup releasing a statement where they went off, meaning the Raiders, to visit them, the city of Oakland had no knowledge of it, the Raiders told the city of Oakland, “we’re not going to meet with you.” They didn’t tell them about Vegas. They said, wait until we’re through with Houston, meaning Los Angeles, then they said wait until we have a new lease agreement signed, which happened on the 27th of April. So there are a number of people, Council members on down, the city attorney’s office, they’re really concerned the Raiders aren’t playing fairly.
I take a different view on that. The Raiders have been very open on the challenges to get a stadium built. It’s not fair to shift all of that responsibility to the Raiders. They bear some, but public officials, the private sector, the Raiders, the NFL — we all have a responsibility. It’s a shared responsibility. It’s not one for standing there and saying it’s somebody else’s responsibility. We all need to work together to find a solution.
There was a report issued yesterday, a Congressional Report, that the NFL was not upfront and straightforward with funding that it wanted to give to the NIH, and tried to steer that group away from a certain doctor in Boston regarding CTE. Where does the league stand on that? Did you see the report, and how do you feel on that?
I didn’t see the report, we were traveling down here. But I take a much different position to that on several fronts. One is our commitment to medical research which is well documented. We made a commitment to the NIH. It is normal practice for you to have discussions back and forth with the NIH. We have several members that are advisors on our committees, including Betsy Nabel and Rich Ellenbogen, who had experience with NIH or worked with NIH. It is very important to continue to have that kind of dialogue through appropriate channels, which our advisors have. They have those relationships. That’s a standard practice, so we have our commitment of $30 million to the NIH. We’re not pulling that back one bit. We continue to focus on things that our advisors believe are important to study. Ultimately, it’s the NIH’s decision.
A handful of current players have expressed concerns upon Twitter, through social media, in interviews about the NFL’s forthrightness when it comes, particularly, to head trauma, and where the league is going with it, and just what players risk. What can you say to address those concerns of the players’ trust in the NFL to do the right thing, and to give the players a sense of where this thing is headed?
Since I became commissioner, I said this was our number-one priority. It’s something that we have to do better. We have to continue to make progress to make our game safer for our players at the NFL level, but also future players, and at all levels of football. We have to do it for our retired players. So we have to continue to find ways in which to make our game safer. We’re not done yet. I put that as a very important concern for us going forward, to make the game safer for those playing today and those playing in the future, and to do what we can to help retired players continue to transition through life in a positive way. We’ve seen some very positive reports about retired players in the last couple of weeks, but we need to reach out to our retired players, we need to reach out to our current players and let them know what’s happening out there and the facts. One of the things we’re trying to do, whether it’s kids playing youth football, or whether it’s high school, college, or the NFL, or retired players, is make sure people understand the facts. That’s what we’ve done, and that’s why we’re going to continue to be committed to this and have transparency in what we do. You mentioned the NIH report. A Congressman issued that report without even talking to any of our advisors. I don’t think that’s appropriate. I don’t think that’s the right way to do things.
This morning we got word that at least one owner has been giving money to fight House Bill 2, here in North Carolina. What’s the NFL’s overall stance on how to approach that, when other leagues like the NBA are saying, “We may have to put some big events there in check if this bill does not get repealed?”
We have been very open and honest and direct about this. We have our policies that do not support, in any way, any discrimination. It’s very important to us to have diversity. We’ve made that clear publicly and we’ve made that clear in other situations. We made a commitment a long time ago. The city of Charlotte has continued to fight this issue. I spoke to the mayor as recently as yesterday about these issues. We support those efforts. I think anything that discriminates is something that we oppose and we’ll continue to fight that. But we have a franchise here. The Carolina Panthers play here, they operate here and we want to work with the community. We’re not going to threaten the community. We’re going to work with the community to make changes that are necessary long-term.
Following up on Bob’s question about the Committee report. You had mentioned Dr. Ellenbogen and Dr. Nabel have spoken on behalf of the League with the NIH.
I didn’t say they have spoken on behalf of them. I said they are people who have worked with the NIH in the past. Jeff Miller has been our key contact.
The report also identified Dr. Elliott Pellman as sending emails to the NIH on behalf of the NFL. His role with the old MTBI committee has been well documented. Do you feel it’s wise to have Dr. Pellman continue to speak for the NFL?
Dr. Pellman is not a part of the policy making — the committee is. His role is purely administrative at this point in time. It is not in any way making policy.
The report showed him sending emails.
I haven’t seen the report but I just said that he’s in an administrative position. He’s not in a policy position. He’s not creating policy. He’s not advising on policy.
Mark Davis was just speaking about Las Vegas. He said he feels he’s made a commitment to them and will go there if Nevada and Las Vegas come through with what they’re proposing. Understanding that that needs an approval of the owners, what would be the biggest concerns that would have to be addressed before moving to Las Vegas?
It’s very premature at this point. One, there is not a proposal that at least Mark has presented to us. My understanding is there is not a proposal. Two, there’s a great deal of work that need to be done for ownership to make that kind of consideration. There’s a variety of factors. The stadium itself, what the stadium proposal is, the market itself and market studies. We obviously, in Las Vegas, have been well documented that we’d have to consider the impact from a gambling standpoint. All of those things are an ownership decision and until we have more information it’s just pure speculation at this point in time.
Being that the spring meeting is here in Charlotte, what does this city have to do to one day bring a Super Bowl here?
One of the things that comes through very clear in the presentations is that the Super Bowl continues to grow. With that are requirements – number of hotel rooms, the facilities — that are required. It’s an extraordinary event that just takes a very large city with a lot of hotel rooms and a lot of facilities and airports that can handle the travel of people coming in and out. We have well over 100,000 people that come to the Super Bowl, and that continues to grow. Infrastructure is probably the most significant issue. Obviously the stadium itself is important. We’ve got a great stadium here in Carolina. The capacity is important to us. All of those are factors that are considered but what happens now – you see it with the five proposals today – they were all exceptional. They were terrific. They talked about the benefits of their community and what they can do to make the Super Bowl bigger and better. That is something that the competitiveness just continues to raise the bar. That’s good for us, and I think that’s good for the communities. But it’s going to be hard for some communities to keep up with that.
For immediate press release from NFLcommunications.com