NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks suring his Super Bowl press conference Friday.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke on a number of topics at his annual Super Bowl press conference on Friday afternoon in Phoenix.
This year, arguably the biggest topic was himself.
Goodell came under fire earlier this season for his handling of the domestic violence investigation of Ravens running back Ray Rice. Goodell didn't deflect any criticism from a room full of reporters on Friday, admitting to some "soul-searching" through a difficult time.
"It has been a tough year on me personally," Goodell said. "It's been a year of, what I would say, humility and learning. We, obviously, as an organization, have gone through adversity, but more importantly it's been adversity for me. That is something where we take that seriously. It's an opportunity for us to get better. It's an opportunity for our organization to get better.
We've all done a lot of soul-searching, starting with yours truly, and we've taken action."
Goodell said the league at first didn't fully understand the domestic violence issues which plagued its teams, but has since brought in experts and instituted a more rigid personal conduct policy. Cardinals team president Michael Bidwill chairs a committee which oversees the issue, and it had its first meeting this week.
"We've made enormous progress," Goodell said. "The things we didn't know and where we were in August is not where we are today. We're in a good place in knowing and learning and having a lot more humility. As an organization and as an individual, it's been a tough year, but a year of great progress. I'm excited about the future."
Goodell touched on many of the top storylines around the NFL, from the current controversies surrounding the Super Bowl to plans for the future:
-- Goodell was asked about Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch and his reticence in speaking to the media. Lynch has shown up for five minutes of each media session this week in order to avoid paying a fine but has refused to relevantly answer questions. The league has fined him multiple times in the past for blowing off his interview duties. "When you're in the NFL, you have an obligation," Goodell said. "An obligation to the fans. It's part of your job. There are things we all have to do in our jobs we might not necessarily want to do."
-- Goodell said the investigation into the alleged deflating of footballs by the Patriots in the AFC championship game is ongoing. He hired an independent investigator to determine why the footballs lost air pressure, and if it was done deliberately. "Whether a competitive advantage was gained is secondary in my mind to whether the rule was violated," Goodell said.
-- Goodell took a moment to thank Bidwill and his family for the work done to bring the Super Bowl back to Arizona. He said the event organizers have done an outstanding job. "To put on an event like this take a lot of people," Goodell said. "This community has wrapped their arms around every opportunity and made the Super Bowl even bigger and better for our fans and the NFL overall. We're thrilled about being here and look forward to coming back."
-- Instant replay could be tinkered with, as the NFL aims to speed up the process of each decision, possibly aided by wireless communication. Replays may also be expanded to penalties if it doesn't bog down the flow of a game. "Fans don't want delays, coaches don't want delays," Goodell said. "They want action and accuracy."
--Goodell said hits to defenseless players were down 68 percent this year and concussions were down 25 percent. The league is going to soon name a chief medical officer to oversee player safety.
--Goodell said possible changes to extra points will continue to be discussed. In the Pro Bowl, the point after was pushed out to the 15-yard-line instead of its customary spot at the 2, and the goalposts were narrowed. Goodell believes they should be more challenging. "The extra point has become virtually automatic," he said.
-- Goodell said he'd prefer every NFL franchise stay in their current market, but admitted there have been feelers out for some to move to Los Angeles. The Rams have been the hottest name, although Goodell said the process isn't far enough along and would have to go to a vote of team owners. "There are teams that are interested but trying to work their issues out locally," Goodell said. "As a league, we haven't gotten to that stage yet."
-- The possibility of expanding the playoffs is still on the table, but it's not a given, as Goodell said the dilution of the regular season and possible interference with college football are potential drawbacks.