Two days ago, the NFL conducted it's spring meetings in Dallas. The primary topic was determining the site for the 2014 Super Bowl, with the Meadowlands winning out. In addition, the owners tabled the discussion on whether the new playoff OT rules should be applied to the regular season.
At the end of the meetings, Goodell conducted a press conference to discuss a whole host of issues. The folks at NFLLabor.com provided that transcript, and I also have it after the jump. There wasn't anything particular big to come out of this press conference, but Goodell addressed a variety of issues many of us find intriguing.
For example, he mentioned that last June, when the league was in its first formal negotiating session with the NFLPA, the entire focus of the session was the potential increase of the regular season.
What it represents to us is a way to grow the game and grow the opportunities, not only for our fans and our business partners, but for the players as our partners. We have to continually look at ways to improve what we're doing. It's been very clear to us from not only our fans but also from our players that the quality of the preseason and the desire to participate in preseason is not at the level it should be.
If I'm reading this correctly, it would seem to indicate that if the league were to extend the regular season, it would come at the expense of the preseason. I'm certainly not against that, as most folks seem to think 3 preseason games would be plenty.
Goodell also responded to the American Needle decision, indicating that he never thought the decision would affect the league's collective bargaining discussions. I call BS on that given the antitrust implications of the Supreme Court potentially ruling in favor of the NFL. American Needle will certainly remain an interesting case since the Supreme Court sent it back to the lower court. Definitely worth following.
The other major issue he addressed was testing for HGH. It really sounds like the league is pushing for that in the next collective bargaining agreement. The issue comes down to the fact that a blood test is much more invasive than a urine sample, and there remain some questions about the reliability of blood tests for HGH. I haven't done a ton of research in this area, so it's certainly possible many of those concerns have been answered. That, combined with an extended regular season would seem to be a pair of bargaining chips the union would want to play against potential decreases in revenue sharing.
Head over to NFLLabor.com, or after the jump, to view the transcript for Commission Goodell.
NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL
League Meeting News Conference
Dallas, TX - May 25, 2010
Good afternoon. We had a very productive day. I know you want to talk about Super Bowl XLVIII. That obviously was a historic vote for the league and it's something that took up a fair amount of time this afternoon. We had three great cities and three great communities bidding. But we also got a lot of other things done. It was an incredibly productive day. We spoke a lot about the coming season. There was a big focus on where we are with ticket sales, the challenges that are still out there in the marketplace; what our consumers and business partners are going through, and what we can do to try to make the experience better in our stadiums, which we call the in-stadium experience. This would include bringing new technology, content like the RedZone into our stadiums to make it a better experience for our fans. We also spent a fair amount of time talking about our enhanced season. Along the same lines, what can we do to improve the quality of what we are doing and offering to our fans and to our business partners? We spent a great deal of time talking about our analysis of the enhanced season and discussing all of the issues we need to discuss in that context.
We also spent a great deal of time on labor and our planning to make sure we are focused on the right priorities with our membership and in our negotiations with the NFLPA. And we'll continue to do that. We spent time on medical issues, making sure we keep a focus on how do we keep the game as safe as possible. That includes everything from equipment to our medical procedures and even rules to make sure that we are doing everything to make sure our game is safe for our players.
From a competitive standpoint, we spent a fair amount of time on three or four issues, most specifically the overtime rule. The issue was tabled. We will not be implementing a change to overtime for the 2010 regular season. The membership and Competition Committee felt that we had addressed the issue we wanted to this offseason with respect to postseason. We want to continue to talk to our players, our business partners. We would like to take these steps incrementally and revisit that issue after the conclusion of the 2010 season.
On the New York-New Jersey Super Bowl and your role in getting it done:
Far too much is being made of my role. Our job is to make sure we present three terrific bids. Our staff and the Super Bowl Advisory Committee did that. There are three great communities, two of which we've had experience with. New York-New Jersey came in as a new bid with a new stadium with two franchises and I think there are some unique aspects to this and I think that appealed to our membership. But it was a tough vote because we had three great bids.
On the possibility of future cold-weather Super Bowls:
I think each game will be decided on an individual basis. I do believe that New York is a unique market. I think the membership recognizes that. It is the number-one market in our country and in many cases around the world. From that standpoint it will be a great experience for our fans and for the NFL. I am confident that the bid they put together will turn out to be a great event.
On impact of SB XLIV:
Obviously it was one of the greatest games we've had in the history of the NFL and certainly in Super Bowl history. Not only was it the play on the field, but the story of the Saints and the role they've had in their community in restoring hope and the connection they have with their community that had been through such a difficult period. The role the NFL and in particular the Saints played in that is something that we can all be very proud of. It added to the story of a terrific football game. When we reflect back on that, you can look at the records of the largest audience in the history of television. One of the greatest games, if not the greatest game in the history of the NFL. But it's really the core of the relationship between that team and the fans and the history of the fans in that region that is something we'll remember.
On importance of innovation:
I feel very strongly that we cannot be complacent in what we do. We have to continue to find ways to grow the game, to reach new fans, to continue to provide quality. That's what the NFL represents. Innovation is a big part of our initiative. Whether it's the Super Bowl in New York or the changes we've made to the Draft or the changes we've made to the Pro Bowl, we're going to try to find new ways to reach our fans and make sure we're bringing them the highest quality entertainment and make them feel good about following the NFL.
On status of labor negotiations:
I wouldn't say there are any developments or any specific progress that I would report today. We continue to have dialogue on a variety of different matters. We will be having another formal negotiation in June. We need to focus in on the importance of getting progress in some of these key areas. You know all the issues.
On enhanced season:
Our first formal negotiation session was a year ago in June and that first session was entirely focused on the enhanced season. I expect that will be the focus of the next negotiating sessions. What it represents to us is a way to grow the game and grow the opportunities, not only for our fans and our business partners, but for the players as our partners. We have to continually look at ways to improve what we're doing. It's been very clear to us from not only our fans but also from our players that the quality of the preseason and the desire to participate in preseason is not at the level it should be. We have to address that issue and I expect we will be doing that at the August meeting.
On Roethlisberger situation:
When I return following these meetings, I expect to be sitting down with our staff and reviewing the evaluation and determining the next steps. Sometime in the next week or so I will be issuing a decision.
On reports on ticket sales and blackouts:
We're still in a challenging environment. We obviously see what our fans are going through. There is still a lot of uncertainty out there in our fans' minds. That's reflected in their willingness to commit to season tickets. We're having to work harder and spend more resources to get our fans to engage. Whether it's on a season ticket basis or smaller game packages or individual game package or group sales. That takes a lot more work and energy. We spend a lot of time talking about best practices, what's working in certain markets that we can apply to other markets. The clubs are working extra hard to do it. It is clearly a challenging market. I don't expect to see blackouts beyond what we saw last year. I think we will work hard and be effective again like we were last year.
On Dr. Galea and possibility of league discipline:
We are going to pursue all of the information that's been publicly available. Hopefully we'll get additional information as the case proceeds. We are very anxious to understand all of the details and pursue it aggressively and we will. We don't take those issues lightly. It's important for us to get whatever information is available and we will pursue it in accordance with our policies.
On Los Angeles stadium and importance of a retractable roof:
There's no cookie-cutter approach to this. What works in one community doesn't necessarily work in another community. In large part, the reason we've been successful in getting our stadiums built is we've worked in public-private partnerships to find solutions that the community may have to address or those issues that they may have to address and we find reasonable solutions. In the case of the downtown LA stadium, that could potentially be addressing an issue with respect to convention facilities and would it add to the convention facilities they have in that area? That's how we've been successful. We've done it in Indianapolis and other communities where we try to identify the issue and see if we can be part of the solution.
On a public component to a stadium project in Los Angeles:
I can't address any of the specifics of it because I think they are at a very early stage of addressing that. I know these things are successful when they are public-private partnerships, when the public and the private sector work together to create these solutions. And that is what we want to do.
On American Needle ruling:
This is a case arising from a licensing issue. We make collective decisions that are in the best interest of the 32 teams. The court, and I haven't read the full decision at this point in time, recognizes that the league should make decisions collectively in its best interest, that we are unique and have special characteristics in that way. That's positive. As it relates to the specifics, it goes back to the trial court and we'll work it out. We'll find a way to go through the legal process and continue to address our licensing process as we have. As you know, no court has said what we have done is illegal.
On impact on labor situation:
I've never bought that. I've said before our labor issues are going to get addressed in collective bargaining and that's where they should get addressed. I've never felt that this had any impact on our collective bargaining process. What we have to do there is sit down at the table, address our issues and get it resolved. We will have a labor agreement and it will be done through collective bargaining and not through the courts.
On HGH testing:
We've proposed that in our collective bargaining discussions. The only way to reliably do that is through blood testing at this point in time. But we support that because we think it's important in making sure that we are all playing by the same rules. It is a health and safety issue also. We will continue to press it in negotiations and I'm hopeful we will reach an agreement where our new drug program will make some advancements, including HGH testing.
Are you confident it will be in the next agreement?
I know that the NFL is going to continue to push for it aggressively.
On StarCaps issue:
The lawyers are probably better at addressing all the decisions. From what I understand, the courts have dismissed all the issues about the fact that our program wasn't applied properly. They have supported that in every one of their decisions. The latest decision we are going to have to evaluate and see what the impact is. I've said repeatedly that we're going to defend our drug policy. We are going to look to improve it at every opportunity. It's important that our policy be applied consistently to every player in the NFL. The idea that we and anybody in professional sports can have an effective program having different standards by state, it's just not realistic. If it takes federal legislation or some other solution, we are going to continue to pursue that and defend our position. I repeat again - every decision I have seen has supported what the NFL has done.
On status of Stan Kroenke's bid:
I don't expect another league meeting until August. We did discuss that today and had an update. We spoke to our Finance Committee yesterday and Stan met with the Finance Committee, too. We will continue to work on that over the summer but it would be our hope to address that prior to the start of the regular season.
On NFL cross-ownership rules and Stan Kroenke meeting them:
That's still a little bit of a moving target and that's something we discussed yesterday. Stan has made it very clear that he wants to be compliant with NFL rules and that he is willing to work towards finding a way to do that. And that is what our committee is willing to do.
On De Smith's comments about HGH:
De will have to respond for himself. I can't respond to that. I think obviously one of the reasons the NFL has had the most effective drug program is because we've made changes to our policy, particularly as technology has advanced. There wasn't a test for HGH several years ago. That technology has developed. In the best interest of the integrity of our sport, we need to pursue that and pursue it aggressively. That's why we've made the proposal to the Players Association. It's part of the negotiation. They haven't agreed to it yet.
On the June 2 medical conference on concussions:
It came up in a couple of places. Obviously we briefed the membership on the June 2 conference that we're having. We think it's going to be a very productive session. We are going to have all of our medical personnel there on the team level. We are going to continue to work hard and show leadership in this area.
We also discussed the concussion issue in the context of equipment and the independent testing we've been going through with the helmets and making sure that we communicate that properly to the players this summer so they understand the technology and advancements and types of helmets that they should be using.
We also talked about player equipment in general. In particular, one of the issues we've been focused on is padding in general - hips, knee pads, side pads, properly fit shoulder pads. This has been a focus of ours, whether this should be mandatory going forward, whether we should require all of our players to wear these types of pads. We've discussed this with our Players Association and we're going to advance some of the technologies. We think it's possible and there are some prototypes currently from some of the manufactures of a one-piece unit that would have the hip pads, the thigh pads, and the knee pads all in one. You could have rib pads and additional padding in the shoulder area with performance wear underneath the shoulder pads. We think these are great advances. We want to experiment and will experiment with some of that in training camps. And hopefully, we will implement some of it on a league-wide basis for the 2011 season.
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