The NFL owners meetings officially got underway in Phoenix on Monday morning, with Commissioner Roger Goodell kicking it off by discussing where the National Football League stands right now and where it’s headed with team owners, management and coaches.
A major announcement that normally comes out of the owners meetings is revealing when and who will play in the NFL Kickoff Game, the first game of the NFL season. It has been the practice over the last 10 years for the Super Bowl Champion to play a home game on the Thursday night of opening week, but there is a bit of a snag this year. The Baltimore Orioles host the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, Sept. 5, at 7:05 p.m., at Camden Yards, the same night the Baltimore Ravens would traditionally host the game at nearby M&T Bank Stadium, and details have yet to be ironed out to ensure the Ravens a home game.
“We are trying to work out an accommodation to allow the Orioles’ game to happen earlier in the afternoon and the Ravens to celebrate their Super Bowl championship with their fans at home on Thursday night,” said Goodell in an afternoon press conference. “We think that is the right thing. We have agreed to move the game a little bit later in the evening to try to accommodate the baseball game.”
Goodell said the only other option would be to have the Ravens open the season on the road, something he doesn’t want to see happen.
“We think that is wrong for the Ravens’ fans,” said Goodell. “We would not want that to happen. That is why we are trying to reach an accommodation here.
“We are working on the schedule. We are working on parallel tracks for a couple more weeks. Clearly, we are getting to a point where we have to make that decision.”
Among the announcements coming out of today’s meeting was an agreement between the NFL and a group of retired players settling a class action lawsuit regarding the use of player images, particularly in NFL Films footage. (Click for more on the settlement)
The league also announced an expanded partnership with MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, endorsing MADD’s campaign to eliminate drunk driving.
Goodell was also asked about a variety of other topics in the press conference, including the offseason schedule and postseason expansion.
On New Orleans vying for another Super Bowl considering the black out that happened:
“I don’t think it will have any impact at all on the Super Bowl and the New Orleans’ hopes for getting another one. They did a great job. I mentioned that this morning to our membership and I think they deserve another Super Bowl.”
On if there have been any further talks about moving the offseason schedule back and if they have been discussed with the union:
“Yes, we did. We presented an alternative calendar for the offseason. We think that it makes a lot of sense. I think the players saw the benefits of doing that and they wanted to talk to their membership, which they were doing last week at their meeting. I have not heard or gotten a report back from them about what their reaction is, but as soon as I speak to DeMaurice (Smith), I’ll have a better understanding.”
On where things stand on the idea of expanding the postseason field:
“The Competition Committee looked at some of the issues and identified those issues. There are things that we will now take and put them into our own consideration and have our own discussions with the union at some point in time to get their views on if this makes sense. We have a little bit of work to do before we can advance it. It clearly won’t be happening for this year if there was any doubt about that.”
On whether this year’s Pro Bowl was successful and whether there are plans for future Pro Bowls:
“Clearly there was an improved effort. I have spoken to several of the players and I appreciate that (effort). I have also had conversations with the players and so have our staff. They have also met with the Competition Committee last month to talk about what we can do to make the game more attractive, more exciting and more competitive. I’m going to report to the membership on that in the next two days and before we leave here I think we’ll be able to fill you in a little more.”
On whether there will be changes to the NFL’s Thursday Night Game schedule over the next few years:
“We are always looking to see what we can do to improve it. I don’t see anything significant this year to improve it, but we’ve had some ideas we are knocking around. If something comes up that we think makes sense then we’ll do it.”
On what type of feedback he has gotten about the rule change to penalize offensive players for using their helmets in the open field:
“We raised this with the players in Indianapolis at the Combine. We have had full discussions and I have spoken with players individually, including some of them who are in the media. It is something we are working through with our coaches. The committee spent a significant amount of time, not only considering that input, but also looking at tape. It is not just how the rule works but also how it is officiated, and what is the impact of the game. They were going through that yesterday and I believe they have some more meetings. We’ll be talking about it first thing in the morning.”