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Transcript of Roger Goodell and Rich McKay at the NFL Annual Meeting

Posted Mar 23, 2016

The commissioner and the chairman of the Competition Committee discussed rules changes and other pressing matters as the NFL Annual Meeting concluded Wednesday.

Roger Goodell: As we've talked all week, we're coming off one of the greatest years in the history of the NFL, but we've also emphasized that was last year. Our entire focus this week was on: what do we do to continue to make our game great? What do we continue to make it safer for our players? How do we continue to use innovation to improve every aspect of the league? How do we continue to look forward to how our fans are changing and evolving, and using technology to continue to be able to reach them.

There were several voting matters, but most of them came in the context of the Competition Committee and the context of making our game better. The game got better this week. We had significant changes to improve the safety of the game for our players, which Rich will talk about. We certainly made some other changes that are going to improve the quality of the game also. So very positive changes and a very strong commitment on behalf of the ownership to continue to focus and continue to be aggressive in these changes.

In the health and safety area, we spent a great deal of time. We spent a significant amount of time talking about additional research. The membership agreed to funding additional research. We'll give you more details as we move along on exactly where we put that money, but we're aggressively looking to find new ways to advance that research.

Engaging the fans, going back to that - we focus on the stadium experience. That's critically important to us. So how do we engage our fans in the stadium, continue to make that the best experience in all of sports, but also how do we use technology, and how do we continue to make that experience at home better? Our network partners and our digital partners all do a terrific job in improving that experience, but we want to make sure that we continue to see where the fan is going, how we can reach the fans with our games and with our content, and make that even a better experience, and allow them to engage even more.

On the expansion side of how we continue to reach the new markets: we obviously spent a fair amount of time talking about Los Angeles and how we continue to address issues market-by- market here, but we also spent a great deal of time talking internationally. We'll continue to have our London series of three games, we're playing in Mexico this November, and we also talked about within the next couple of years the potential for a game in China - a regular-season game in China. We're excited about that potential, and we'll continue to have dialogue on that.

And then we have agreed with the Rams that they will appear on Hard Knocks this year. So the Los Angeles Rams and their return to L.A. will be chronicled through the eyes of Hard Knocks and NFL Films, and we're excited about putting it on that platform. So those are some of the highlights.

Rich McKay

Rich McKay: There were 19 playing rules proposals. Nine were voted yes, six were voted down, three were withdrawn and one was tabled. So, I'll go through them with you if you want, quickly. I'm sure you got them, I'm sure they submitted them to you. The PAT proposal, which is an example of a proposal that took a long, long time to get passed and then last year was passed for one year, passed this year without a vote against. We passed the coach to player which just allows the coach to communicate directly to the player from the press box, just giving more flexibility if you will for the coaches as to where they actually call their plays from, both defense and offense.

A very significant change for us from a safety perspective is the complete elimination of the chop block. It has been a part of our game for a long time. There has been plenty of teams and schemes that have relied upon that technique. It is not one that has overwhelmed us in injury data, but it is not one that we have felt good about over the years as we've continued to limit that play where it was legal, and this year we were able to eliminate it totally which I think is a good thing. I think it's a good thing from a defensive player perspective. Often times many of our safety rules are directed towards offensive players or at least they appear to be even though the defenseless receiver in our case many times we think is actually for the benefit of the defensive back. But in this one, as this is a pure defensive player safety rule, we think it's time to pass and we're happy it did.

We passed this morning an amended playing rule proposal for automatic ejection after two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. We amended it to make it for one year only. We heard some of the coaches and some of their concerns yesterday about the rule and how the rule would be used, so we wanted to amend it and make it for one year and we passed that today. We passed moving the touchback to the 25, which we do think has a safety element to it. We passed that also for one year because we do want to see if it changes the numbers and how it impacts the game because there is that thought that there will be some more short kicks. We'll see. The other ones that passed, the horse collar. We expanded the horse collar protection. The horse collar has been a concern of ours because of the buckling action when a player gets pulled backwards, we feel it's really a play of tremendous risk to the player and so we wanted to expand that protection and we were able to do that.

Then we've got a couple that are more technical ones. The granting of the excess timeout, the fact that you could have a five-yard penalty if the official were to grant the time out. Dean Blandino explained to you the other day the illegal touching change. He made the rule and he is better to explain it than any of us and he is also better at explaining penalty enforcement on a double foul after a change. I would welcome you to read the rule and good luck as you begin to understand it, but it is truly -- one of the problems we have in our rule book is it's a very complicated play when you have double fouls and you have change of possession so the rule likewise has it's challenges and Dean wanted to change that this year to simplify it and simplify the enforcement so it would be better for officiating. So that's our rules changes.

Bylaw proposals, we've had a couple pass today. We had bylaw proposal number five pass from Minnesota which is on injury settlements with players and the ability to get those players back on your team sooner and we changed our designated to return rule. This one, designated to return, was submitted by Buffalo. Good change in our mind. It allows that one player that you're allowed to get back during the season off of IR, it allows you the flexibility of not having to designate that player when you put that player on injured reserve or non-football injury. So the way the rule works is after the final cut, you can have one player that you can designate for return and have that player come back. Now you don't have to designate the player. You designate the player when his time is up. In other words, his six weeks and you're ready to have him practice, then you can pick who that player is. Better result in our mind. You don't know when you put a player on injured reserve, you don't know how that player is going to come back and what his timeline is, so instead of having to guess at it this gives you a little more flexibility. We think this will allow teams a little more efficient way to use the designated for return.

We also passed bylaw proposal number nine which just deals with minor injuries and truly is a technical bylaw proposal. Bylaw proposal number ten, video on the sidelines. We tabled that. We heard a really good discussion this morning from some coaches and some concerns both on the technical side, on the actual application of it and on the competitive ramifications and I think we want to spend the next couple of months kind of understanding all of those and then discussing it in May. We'll use the tablets regardless. They contained the stills this year. That's the system we have operated for a long time and Microsoft has provided the tablets on the sideline. The issue of videos is one we will continue to discuss and probably vote on in May. So that's kind of everything we voted on. We voted on a resolution from Indianapolis on the retractable roof, which did not pass just on the flexibility around it. I think that's pretty much everything we voted on.

So, any questions?

Roger Goodell and Rich McKay

Rich, you mentioned objections to the ejections, do you think, how strong were those considered by the owners and do you think that the fact that proposal was originated by the commissioner had an impact?

McKay: I think these are spirited discussions, typically, in the room, and educational and productive. And I think this one on sportsmanship in general was very productive, both yesterday and then yesterday afternoon, then again today. We've emphasized sportsmanship in our competition committee report since I've been on the competition committee at least five times, if not six. We have made it a point of emphasis every time we felt like it's beginning to cross the line. We have not been able to affect sportsmanship in the way we think we need to, so this year we have another section on sportsmanship. We have specific points we are emphasizing on sportsmanship. But we felt like we needed a rule to make sure that the players are held accountable to what we expect them to do and how we expect them to conduct themselves.

Goodell: Mark, to one point, I think we spoke about this yesterday with all the clubs, brought it back this morning. I think Jeff Fisher said it the best, he started off the meeting this morning saying, listen, as coaches we're responsible for making sure we coach our players, control our players, and sportsmanship is a key component of that. Second, coach made it very clear that while we've had points of emphasis in the past in the competition committee, they need teeth. This was a rule that brought teeth to that. It brought an opportunity for the rules to reflect the emphasis that I think everybody in the membership feels, and particularly the competition committee, sportsmanship is important to us. It's important to our players, it's important to our teams, and it's important to our fans.

Rich, first, what's the adjustment on the injury settlement, one? And second part is the playing rules proposals 6-15, which got tabled, which got voted down?

McKay: Okay. My last point on sportsmanship though, Mark, back to you, when we were in our meetings, when we met our last time to kind of finalize our rule proposal, which we did last week, Rogers Redding from the NCAA always sits with us. He's the head of officials and rules for the NCAA, and this was the one rule proposal he wanted us to pass because he feels that the conduct of our players and the sportsmanship of our players impacts their players directly because they're watching our games. And last year, at 75 unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, for us, that's a very big number. So that's just another point for you on the sportsmanship. So to John's question on rules that did not pass: Baltimore had a rule about jerseys, pullover jerseys. That was playing rule proposal number six, that did not pass. Carolina had a rule proposal, that's number nine, that was on intentional grounding and changing the language on intentional grounding. That did not pass. Withdrawn were Washington had a rule proposal, number 13, that was withdrawn. Kansas City had rule proposals 10 and 11, both of those were withdrawn. And the ones that were left are playing rule proposal 7, 8, 12, 14 and 15, all of those were replay proposals by teams. The one that we tabled was playing rule proposal number seven, submitted by Baltimore, because we think there's merit to the proposal, and we think it's something we want to work on. The basis of playing rule proposal number seven is a rewrite of the rule, and kind of almost taking us back to a simpler way to look at the rule.

Today, one of the things about instant replay is over the years since we put this in in '98 is we continue to add plays to the reviewable list and really have made it, to some people's point, confusing and certainly long. One thing that Baltimore did in their proposal is they made it much more simplistic of what is not allowed to be reviewed, and I think that we're going to look at that. We're going to meet as a committee, we're going to talk to the membership, and we're going to look at trying to submit a proposal off of Baltimore's that rewrites the rule and rewrites the language, and submit it in May for a vote. So that would be the one that has been tabled and will be voted on as far as replay goes.

And what about the other four? Were they tabled or withdrawn?

McKay: The other four all failed. All were voted on and all failed. Those included increasing the number of challenges. If you got one right, you automatically got the third. One was just go to three challenges. One was to increase reviewable plays to only personal fouls. And one was to review any penalty, and those all failed.

Clarification on the designated to return rule. I think right now, a player can come back after six weeks-practice after six, play after eight. Is that totally eliminated? Can a player come back to practice, be declared that player on Friday and play on Sunday?

McKay: The rule as it was written is exactly the same. In other words there's no change in the six weeks, no change in the eight weeks, no change in any of that language. The difference is you don't have to designate that player until the day you're going to bring that player back to practice. The day you're going to bring that player back to practice after those six weeks, you submit to the league the name, and that player then becomes your designated to return. It's a good idea by Buffalo, and I think it will serve the clubs well.

For Rich or Roger: Bruce Arians gave a very spirited plea for having full time officials today saying they are not professionals and they are not held to the same standards as coaches and players. He believes that they should be, and that they should be trained much more extensively during the week. Basically that was his message, what is your reaction to what coach Arians had to say?

Goodell: I'll take this, and Rich can add whatever he wants. As you know, full time officials is not a new issue, Jason. It's been discussed in the league, it's been discussed through the competition committee for several years. We believe that at least in a limited form that it's a positive step, so we agree with coach on that front. In fact, that's something we fought for in our last labor negotiations with the officials is to be able to hire a limited number of officials, I think it was 16 or so, so that we would have the ability to have them in the office during the week. We could develop greater consistency, and consistency is really the core of what we've talked about all week here in officiating. That's what we want to deliver to our teams. I do believe our officials are incredible professionals. I think they officiate at the highest possible level. But they can always improve, and we will try to seek improvement. So that's not unusual for us, but we're going to continue that. We're going to continue our dialogue with how we implement the limited number of officials to see the impact. I do believe, though, from a broader standpoint Jason, whether they're full time or part time, officials are going to make mistakes. That's just-unfortunately the game is fast, and it is difficult to officiate. They do an extraordinary job. We're proud of the job they do and we want to try to give them more resources and more ability to improve, just as the game of football continues to improve.

How many of these rule changes are safety related? Y'all talk about unsportsmanlike conduct, but you count it as safety-related.

Goodell: Three of the rule changes are safety related. There's two more that are clarifications, John, on the use of the crown of the helmet that was a clarification I would consider being a rule change. And the other was low hits to the quarterback. We modified how that rule will be implemented. It's not voted as a rule change, but it will be changed as far as the way it's going to be implemented next year.

Richard Sherman was pretty vehement in his opposition to the rule on the ejections. I just-what would be the league's message to players such as him that think this is a bad rule?

Goodell: This is all in their control. Sportsmanship is important to the membership. We all have standards. They have two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties before they're ejected. The message from the membership and the clubs and from our coaches has said we're going to be held to those high standards.

When you spoke on this for the first time at the Super Bowl about the two-strikes-and-you're-out policy, I think a lot of us took it to mean that you were referring to personal fouls and illegal hits. I'm curious to hear how the final proposal that passed meshes with what your vision and your hope was, and also how you feel about the possibility of one guy getting tossed out of the game for two vulgar insults and a guy who has had two helmet-to-helmet hits gets to keep playing.

Goodell: Well Tom, a couple of points: My recollection may not be that good, but I'm pretty sure the question at the Super Bowl was what you are going to do about sportsmanship. And my suggestion would be that we consider this, and that I had spoken to the chairman of the competition committee, coaches, and others, and felt that this was something that should be considered by the committee. They did. They did consider also expanding it into personal fouls and chose not to do that. That was not the intent, but it was, I think we were clear about this at the Super Bowl, that's for the competition committee to consider. Weigh all of those issues, determine what should be considered and in what context, and then make a recommendation to the membership. They did and I think they came to a good place.

Roger Goodell

And in terms of just the sportsmanship aspect versus the actual dangerous hits on the field. I guess that's the second part of the question -- if a player gets to keep playing after two illegal hits, but after two abusive language things he gets to keep playing. How do you feel about that possibility?

Goodell: I think when you're implementing a new rule like this, you go in increments. It's progress in the sense of trying to deal with a particular issue, unsportsmanlike conduct. At some point in time will this rule evolve into something that will incorporate other issues? I'm sure the competition committee will consider that. It's probably no different that instant replay, Tom. When we started with instant replay it was very limited, and look where it's gone today. So I think that's part of how we evolve. That's how we get better is we start with a particular objective and see what the impact is, and then we go from there.

Rich, just to clarify on Baltimore's replay proposal that you said got tabled, I believe it also included increasing the amount of challenges. Are you saying the challenges won't increase or is that still something that's being considered?

McKay: Well I can't say it won't be considered because it is still part of their proposal, but I will tell you that there's not the votes to increase the number of challenges. Again, last year was as many challenges as we've had, and we had 201. We have 256 games, so we're averaging challenges less than one a game between two teams. So we're not really interested in the idea of why we would want to expand the number of challenges available. But it was part of their proposal. I don't think it will be part of what gets voted on in May.

Goodell: In fact there was another proposal to expand the challenges.

McKay: There was. So we had a proposal from two different teams on expanding it, and they both failed. So that's the way I look at challenges.

Robert Kraft said this week that a little while back he sent you a letter asking you or the NFL to restore the Patriots first-round draft pick and maybe go easy on Tom Brady. Did you respond to his letter and what do you think of giving them their pick back or at least reducing the penalty before the draft?

Goodell: I did receive the letter from Robert a few weeks back. I also responded to him two weeks ago and told him that I considered his views. I didn't think there was any new information in there that would cause us to alter the discipline, and so there will be no changes to the discipline.

There has been talk also, potentially, of a settlement in court with Tom Brady. Can you speak to the possibility of that?

Goodell: I'm not aware of that.

Johnny Manziel has had two incidents of domestic abuse. The second one is with a grand jury and the Dallas police have a medical record that show the victim had a ruptured eardrum. Two questions: where is the league in terms of investigating him? And also why was he not disciplined back in October, the first time this happened, by the league?

Goodell: Those investigations have been ongoing. I have not gotten an update since before the league meeting. I don't know where they are [on the review]. Lisa Friel, our lead investigator, was out here, and as you know, worked in the city of New York investigating these kinds of crimes. I have gotten updates from her from time to time but she has not been able to conclude her investigation to a satisfactory level. When she does and if it results in discipline we'll announce it at that point.

Do you expect to penalize the Falcons for asking a player about his sexual orientation at the Combine?

Goodell: We spent a fair amount of time on that this week. I spoke to Dan Quinn and I actually spoke to the coach who was involved in this matter. I think the Falcons, as an organization, and Dan Quinn as a head coach, and the coach who was involved, have all taken ownership of this issue, recognized the mistake that was made, have been very forthcoming and have taken the appropriate steps to educate everyone. The coach and I spent probably 20 minutes on the phone talking about his learning experiences, how he can use this for a positive step and I was impressed with the way he was handling it. The team has taken on training programs within the organization which I think are all very satisfactory. So I don't see any further steps at the league level at this point.

Do you expect the Rams to host that potential game in China and why is it important for you to explore that market?

Goodell: Well, let me start with the second part. The size and the influence of China in the global marketplace is obviously something that you can't ignore. You can't ignore that as a sport, or a business, or as a nation. We know we have lots of fans over there, and more importantly, potential fans over there. So we've had a number of activities that are designed to increase the popularity of our game over there, to give them a better sense of our game, and a regular season game has proven to be a real driver to that type of activity. As far as the teams, we actually have multiple teams that are interested in playing. We have more than we can handle at this point in time, which is a good issue. I think teams are interested in participating in how we expand our game on a global basis, but in particular in China. We will have to go through that process over the next several months, and again, continue to get to the point where we believe if we do this, we can be successful. At this point we do, and that's why we spoke about it publicly this week.

Can we get an update just on where OTT and the streaming package stands for the exclusive rights for Thursday Night Football?

Goodell: We've been spending a great deal of time on this. In fact, we had a couple recent conversations with some of our potential partners. The interest has been very strong. There are multiple ways in which different digital companies want to participate in this, the value that they can bring to our consumers, the experiences that we think we could initiate through this relationship. What we're trying to just figure out is how to best make that a great consumer experience and who the right partner is that can deliver on that. Again, the number of partners has been so strong that it's taken a little bit longer than we actually thought, but that's a good problem for us.

That game will still be broadcasted by one of the broadcast partners and just streamed by one of these services?

Goodell: Yes, the way we did the Thursday Night Football is that we awarded the network piece of that to NBC and CBS. We also have the games on the NFL Network and this is our tri-cast model, so those are the first two pieces of the tri-cast. The third is the digital -- being able to stream the game to their customers on a global basis. There are a number of pieces that are associated with that but we have the full rights with our network agreements to do that, and we expect to do something that I think, one, will be positive for our fans but two, and probably as important to us, is that we are going to learn more about how this works. We think this is a significant shift obviously in the media landscape. It's something that we have to be at the forefront of. We have our experiment -- forgive that term because I don't use it internally -- but our game with Yahoo was a very important step in that. We were able to stream the game successfully from a technology standpoint, starting with that. Second, I think it was a great experience. We learned an awful lot about the global audience. We learned about how the audience and what platforms they are engaging on -- whether it's a desktop, whether it's a tablet, whether it's a phone device. As technology gets better, this is only going to be a growing opportunity for us. So we are going to take our time. There is no rush on it other than getting to the right combination, but I do see it in the context of the Thursday Night package. There are some other potential opportunities where we can bring it other partners. You saw this week we announced with the Arizona Cardinals a new show on Amazon. That is another great opportunity to be talking with these digital companies about how we can be innovative and how we can reach new customers.

My understanding is owners received an update on stadium situations in San Diego, Oakland and Los Angeles. In terms of the Chargers, have they submitted a stadium proposal to the league? If not, is there a time table on when they will submit a proposal?

Goodell: They do not have to submit a stadium proposal. We've been working with the Chargers on their downtown alternative and continuing dialogue with the city also. This is something that I think is going to play out in the community over some period of months here. We will try to play whatever role we can to be productive. We think it would be great to get a new facility built in San Diego. We've made that point that it's required for us to be able to keep the team there on a successful basis long-term. But these decisions to a large extent are made with the team, but also with the community. What is best for the community? As you know, this is a project that affects more than just the football stadium. It's about a convention facility, it's about the development of the downtown area. These are things that we'll try to improve whatever perspective we can from a league level standpoint, but also support the team as they're looking to reach that conclusion that makes sense for their community.

How closely is the league monitoring the "religious liberty" bill in Georgia and could that, in fact, hurt or derail their Super Bowl bid?

Goodell: That's something that the community is obviously focused on. The legislation -- we're aware of that. We'll see when they make a decision on that. Our bid process, as you know, goes into April. All factors are considered. The membership makes a decision on the basis of each individual club. What they want to vote for and they will weigh certain issues however they determine to weigh them. So that's something that each of the owners will have to make that decision in May.

There have been some conflicting remarks about CTE from the league. Jeff Miller at the roundtable [in Washington, DC] saying that he agrees that there is some linkage between football and CTE, and Jerry Jones last night saying, 'It's too soon,' and I think he used the word 'absurd' to draw that definitive conclusion. Can you just say where the league stands on this issue, and whether you feel that there is some linkage between football and CTE?

Goodell: The most important thing for us is to support the medical and scientists to determine what those connections are. We think the statements that have been made through Jeff Miller and others have been consistent with our position over the years. We've actually funded those studies, so we're not only aware of those, we recognize them and we support those studies. A lot of the research is still in its infancy, but we're trying to find ways to accelerate that, and that's part of what we're doing in investing in additional research this week. But we're also not waiting for the research. We're going out and making the changes to our game. We're making changes to our rules, which you've heard about today. We made changes in 2011 that affected the way we train our athletes. Several coaches and I had conversations today about how it's changing the way they're teaching the techniques that are used on the field and in training. All very positive changes. You've also seen a lot of the changes we've made in equipment, and there are more to come. There are changes to the fields, changes with helmets — some of you may have been able to see the tech lab today with the VICIS helmet out there. So there's exciting technological changes that are going to make our game safer, and we're advancing that, we're driving that. And so our view is to try to continue to do that. We'll support science and medicine and allow them to make those decisions, and try to see what we can do to support that and advance that."

There was a report last week that the NFL was negotiating with the NFLPA to strip you of your disciplinary authority. Is there any truth to that and how do you feel about that? Do you want to retain that authority?

Goodell: Listen, I think I said at the Super Bowl that we're not going to negotiate positions publicly. On the other hand, I've also been very open over the last several years that we have had discussions about the discipline process for decades. We began after we signed our collective bargaining agreement in 2011 to discuss how we could modify the existing plan and we're always open to that. I've said that before. If we could find a better discipline system let's do it. We are not close to an agreement by any stretch of the imagination on any changes to that as it relates to a third party or other individuals making those decisions, but we are open to them. We will continue to have that dialogue directly with the union and if we can come up with a better system, we'll announce it at that point.

Roger, could you give us an update on a decision on Josh Gordon's reinstatement? It's been over 60 days since he applied.

Goodell: I actually have scheduled when I get back to New York sometime in the next week or so to get an update on that. Our staff has been working on it, we're obviously aware of it and they have been working on it. As soon as we have the opportunity to see that, we'll make a judgement, but no decision yet.

Clark Hunt said that the Chiefs have filed an appeal on the tampering charges and I was wondering a, if you plan on hearing that appeal yourself or will you point a designee and b, if you expect that ruling will be done by the Draft?

Goodell: I do not know if it's scheduled yet. I know they did appeal and we will accommodate the date. I do expect I would hear it. I haven't thought of any other alternatives at this point in time. It's an important policy to us. It's important from a competitive standpoint so I would expect I would hear it and if they would like to do it in advance of the Draft, we'll do that.

Roger Goodell

You guys made a few changes to the legal tampering policy this year -- you shortened it a day. I was curious what the impetus for those changes were and do you feel that the changes were effective?

Goodell: You're talking about the changes from last year? I've been in the league 34 years now. There are not many years when I don't think we talked about changes to the tampering policy. It's right up there with replay, player safety. These are important issues to our league and the foundation of our league, so we regularly talk about it. One of the things I like to say I'm proud of is that the league continues to make very positive changes. The rule changes this week are a great example of it. We may have had our most competitive season ever last year, but we still looked and figured out how we make it more competitive and that's I think the hallmark of our league. So the tampering policy is something that has changed over the years. It will undoubtedly continue to change over the years and part of it changes because of the system. Free agency changed the way we have to apply our tampering policy. We still see that, so there are frequently changes to that. I think it's been positive and it's something I think our clubs respect and we're going to enforce it when we see clear violations.

A couple of coaches this week have been pretty outspoken about wanting one, more practice time and two, more contact with players. Bill O'Brien said he'd like to get players in the building before the middle of April. Bruce Arians wanted more contact practices just for teaching players. I know it's a CBA issue, but have you seen anything in the game that will make you say, “Alright, these guys are right with wanting more contact with players” and what are your personal thoughts on those?

Goodell: You make a very good point. We had a very good discussion this week with the coaches, general managers and coaches in the room at our special Tuesday session. This was a pretty lengthy dialogue and it comes in two levels. First, you made a point about the coaches would like to have more opportunity in the offseason to be able to coach. Let me put that in one bucket. That is not unusual, we've heard that before. We've heard it when we signed our collective bargaining agreement in 2011 and I respect it. Coaches like to coach and so they want to be on the field and they want to be out working to try to improve their team. We made an agreement with our players. We're going to respect it and we're going to have all 32 teams operating on that same level playing field. The second issue which came up and I thought was incredibly thoughtful which is -- and it came out of the context with the Rams this year with their relocation to Los Angeles - they had a special session which was approved by the Players Association where they could bring their players in and it was non-football. It was about talking about the relocation of the team, how it impacts each of those players, where they'll be training, the timing and it was very productive, but it was also a chance for -- and Jeff made this point -- that they were able to get players together collectively and it was a positive thing and they had the structure and there was a great deal of excitement. It was positive for the players to have that structure back again. The context is could we do that? Could we expand our player engagement programs to give them more opportunities to focus on life skills on ways in which they could look beyond the game of football and improve themselves, improve their lives and communities. So that is something that we will continue to have dialogue with the union. It is a CBA issue, but we think there's some real possibility there and I think the coaches were real articulate on that this week.

Ernie Accorsi said a few months ago that you had approached him about helping the Lions in their GM search. Why was it important to you that they got some assistance for that search?

Goodell: That's not unusual. I would say that very frequently and multiple times a year I'm asked by ownership to assist when they're going through the process. My perspective on what the priorities should be and how they should do it. As you know I don't get involved in football decisions. That's not my position to do, but I am very happy to give them some insight into people who have the kind of knowledge that I think could help them and guide them through that process. There have been discussions about using outside sources, a search firm as an example. When you're dealing with a subset of football personnel, it's people like Ernie Accorsi who understand the personnel, understand what it's like to put an organization together, what's the appropriate structure, who these individuals are. They serve a much more valuable function and Ernie is someone that I have the highest regard for -- his experience, his integrity, his ability to help and I have, among other people, recommended Ernie on a frequent basis over the years and I'll continue to do that because we want all of our clubs to organize structure and to get to a better place. But I do that with all 32 teams equally.

Mark Davis has been exploring the possibility, the prospects in Las Vegas as a potential perhaps in the future. How concerned or open minded do you think the NFL would be to the idea of having a franchise in a city with an economy largely driven by gambling with the implications regarding sports betting?

Goodell: Mark Davis is appropriately looking at all of his alternatives. We were very open about that when we were in Houston and we made the decision to return the Rams to Los Angeles. Both for San Diego and Oakland. They need to evaluate those alternatives. I think their ultimate decision is a long ways off. There are several cities that have a tremendous interest in the Raiders. I'm hopeful also that Oakland will be one of those and that we can avoid any relocation to start with. Those are ultimately decisions about where they go and the impact that the potential gambling that we'd have to deal with. We'd have to understand it, we'd have to understand what the impact is on us and ultimately each owner would have a vote on that.

Does that represent a philosophical shift with the NFL?

Goodell: No. Relocations are always, as you know and we experienced it this January: one, painful, but two, subject to 32 teams' view about it. They each make their own decision on that. That would be a factor that I think many owners would have to balance, the league would have to balance, but until we got a hard proposal that really put that in front of us, we'd have to understand what the ramifications of that are.

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