ORLANDO, March 25, 2014 — The NFL 2014 league meetings are taking place at the Ritz Carlton in Orlando, Florida. With tons of items on the agenda, the main media event on Monday evening was the Competition Committee press conference. Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay and St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher head the Competition Committee. Their remarks were preceded by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
For those wanting to learn how to conduct themselves in a press conference, observe Roger Goodell. He does not give long-winded opening statements with items about which nobody cares. He does not give long rambling answers to questions in a desperate attempt to run out the clock and avoid more questions. Goodell’s press conferences are straight to the point, and 2014 was no exception. His opening statement was between one and two minutes, followed by extensive questions on a myriad of topics.
Several questions dealt with the recent drunk driving arrest of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay. Goodell’s main legacy as Commissioner has been enacting a tough code of conduct for everyone involved with the league. Owners are held to a higher standard. Irsay was not at the meetings. He is currently in a rehab facility. His three daughters have played a larger role with the team in recent years, and they attended these meetings in his stead.
Goodell noted that Irsay has checked into a rehabilitation facility. Irsay is “seeking help.” Since there have been “no formal charges yet,” it would be premature for the league to take action. Goodell described Irsay as, “somebody who loves this game, but that’s not the priority right now.” Goodell also made it clear that Irsay’s willingness to seek help is not going to exempt him from punishment. Nobody is indispensable, and Goodell noted that Irsay’s daughters are “smart,” “capable,” and “effective.”
When asked about the Oakland Raiders possibly moving back to Los Angeles, Goodell noted that Raiders owner Mark Davis just agreed to a one-year extension to stay in Oakland. The league approved the extension, and Davis has said he wants things to work out in Oakland.
The league has faced criticism over the NFL blackout policy, but Goodell insisted that the policy was, “not a gimmick,” and that, “teams have flexibility.” More than 99% of games at the stadiums were full in 2013. Big-screen televisions have made football the ultimate television sport, but Goodell noted that teams are given extra time when needed to sell additional tickets. The blackout policy would not be eliminated entirely because, “We want fans in the stadium.”
Controversial comments made by NBA owner Mark Cuban were discussed. The Dallas Mavericks owner told the media that the NFL was near a saturation point and that the league might implode in a decade. Goodell sharply disagreed with Cuban’s assessment, and the evidence shows that NFL fans are nowhere near a saturation point.
Monday Night Football has existed since 1970 and Sunday Night Football has been around since 2006. The key issue seems to be Thursday Night Football. Thursday night games used to be on Thanksgiving and special occasions, but now occur every Thursday during the season. Goodell insisted that the NFL, “took a thoughtful, incremental approach,” and that, “fans wanted this.”
When asked about the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal involving Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, Goodell pointed out that there was cause for unity between owners and players. Goodell has an April 8 meeting with the NFL Players Association. The purpose of the meeting with the union is to focus on the workplace. The NFL owners’ meetings normally have a big time keynote speaker. Dr. Condoleezza Rice has addressed the group in the past. This year, the keynote speaker was an ethicist who focused on team-building and workplace culture. Owners and coaches spent time watching power point presentations dealing with workplace conduct.
Goodell also addressed rule changes to increase player safety. He insisted that the changes have, “had a positive impact,” and that, “players have adjusted.” The ultimate goal is a, “safer and better game.”
Goodell was asked about certain Native American groups who want the Washington Redskins to change their name. Goodell did not promise any action either way, but said he would continue to listen to them and keep an open mind.
Goodell has made it clear in public comments that his job is to, “protect the shield.” The shield being the logo for the NFL. Goodell is going to keep doing that because the integrity of the league and the game are what make the NFL what it is today. Anything compromising the game will not be tolerated.