NFL COMMISSIONER ROGER GOODELL NEWS CONFERENCE
2018 FALL MEETING – NEW YORK – OCTOBER 17, 2018
Roger Goodell: Good afternoon. We covered a great deal over the last couple of days. I'm sure you'll have plenty of questions and I'll be happy to answer those.
The focus was on the competition and the game itself. The quality of the games that we are having, the quality and the closeness of the competition, the extraordinary play of the offenses which are at historic highs for the NFL. There are also the future stars, so many good young players establishing themselves very quickly as great players and the excitement that comes with that.
In addition, we see all the fan metrics follow that. They are all very strong and showing tremendous growth, which I think is a reflection of the quality of the game itself and the play of our players and the work of our coaches.
I will leave you with something that I have said to the owners many times. I don't think there has been a better time to be an NFL fan. The quality of the games and the enjoyment that comes with that, I hear it from the fans all the time – that is number one for them. Number two, is the access to the games and the way that fans are able to engage with the NFL. There are more platforms and more opportunities to do that. The experience is better because of technology. All of that creates a much better opportunity for our fans to enjoy football and NFL football.
From our standpoint, we look at this as a great moment for us – the tremendous growth and the tremendous popularity of our game. I am happy to take your questions.
On the anthem policy and the negotiations with the NFLPA:
RG: The focus of both the NFLPA and the NFL, the clubs and our players has been to focus on the effort of the players on the issues they have raised and how can make their communities better. They are incredibly passionate about that. They have brought these issues greater awareness and they are working in their communities to try to make them better. They are working on issues, such as criminal justice reform. I have been on Listen and Learn tours with players, owners have been on Listen and Learns. The players are out there as well, and we can see the tremendous work that they are doing. We have reported over the last two days on the tremendous work that is being done in that area. Most importantly, we talked about the impact that our clubs and players are having working to address these issues. That is where our focus is right now, as it should be.
On the new LA stadium and the league helping the Chargers build a fan base in LA, differences between visits to LA last year as compared to this year:
RG: The biggest difference between last year's visits and this year's visits is the stadium. I had the chance to go through the stadium two weeks ago. It is extraordinary in every sense of the word. It's going to set a new standard for stadiums on a global basis. I am confident it will be known as not only the best stadium, but also the best complex in the world. That excitement is going to build as we get closer, as we are still two years away. There is lots of football and lots of building still to do. We were out of the market for a long time. We have to earn our way back with our fans. We have to build that relationship back with our fans and make sure that we do it right. Both teams are committed to that and it will be something that we will have to work at over time. They both have very exciting teams and that will be helpful also. All of those things will come together over the next two years.
On Jerry Jones mentioning to media that there has been a lot of discussion at these meetings about officiating and how roughing the passer is being officiated:
RG: Well that wasn't the case on the floor, just to be clear. There was very little discussion about that. We spoke about it on several occasions in the context of what the Competition Committee was looking to propose, how it was implemented, and how our officials adjust to the game, as well as the players, adjust to those rules. I think there was a very strong view from the Competition Committee, and all of us. I believe the ownership will listen. They always want consistency in officiating. But, you are going to have calls that are not always going to be clear. We are going to have multiple angles and slow motion and those are things that get debated. But, the focus of trying to protect defenseless players, which includes quarterbacks, is something that is very important. There is a strong commitment to do that. We have to make sure our officials see the entire play. We want to make sure that the defensive players are implementing techniques that we've identified in a way to try to move to the side, try to brace yourself so that you are not putting the quarterbacks in harms way. Those are the things that we've focused on and I think we made a great adjustment. I think we are seeing the impact. We have had a lot of discussion, as you know. But I don't think it has been the fan focus. They are focusing on football and focusing on the great play and the great play of the quarterbacks. I think fans want to see the quarterbacks play. But we all want to protect our players. The safety of the game is better, the quality of the game is better, and I think that is how we see these issues.
On ratings being higher that before:
RG: It's deeper than just ratings. The media world is changing dramatically. The way fans engage and view the game is not simply watching on television anymore, obviously. And we see that ratings identify that, they do it sit in front of the television, at least to watch NFL football. We are one of the few, if any, content that is actually growing an audience. So yes, that is obviously encouraging. But, it is much broader than that. It is how do we use these other platforms to engage our fans to allow them to experience NFL football. They are watching on their tablets, they are watching on their phones. This year for the first time, with Verizon and Yahoo, we offered the NFL app across carriers. The Verizon subscriber and AT&T, or Sprint or T-Mobile, on any carrier, you can get any NFL game on your phone. That is an extraordinary service. The ability for our fans to get NFL football at any point, on any device. So, we keep looking deeper at that. I also believe that the quality of the games obviously is a big driver to all of this. The quality of the stars. I think we see so many players playing at high levels, and teams playing at an incredibly high level and the competitiveness of our league. All of those things are contributing factors. Last year we made the point that there is no one single factor, there are multiple factors. We don't dismiss any of them, we look at all of them and see what we can do to improve them.
On high scoring games, the more points the better or do we need to bring some defense back?
RG: There have also been some defensive games that were low scoring where we saw the defenses play well. But, you always have ebbs and flows and the kind of adjustments that go on throughout the league. That is constant. I think there is no question that fans like to see great play at the highest level, but they also love to see defense. We look at the overall competitiveness of the league. When you see points go up as much as they have gone up to historic levels, to still see the competitiveness of the game and the margin of victory, - I think it is has only happened three or four times in our history of close to 100 years that we have had such a low margin of victory. That's extraordinary. That type of scoring and quality of play is exciting.
On the progress the league has made regarding social justice initiatives and the impact that has had on your relationship with the NFLPA and the players:
RG: Well, as I said earlier, the focus has been on Listen and Learn, understanding what the players want to accomplish in their community, the impact they want to have and supporting them. Our clubs have done that on historic levels and I'm proud of what our clubs are doing. I'm proud of what our players are doing. We are all trying to work together to address those issue. That always helps make relationships more productive when there is respect and dialogue and understanding and an agreement to work together and try to make things better.
When you have people working together and listening to one another and that level of respect, I think everyone feels better and that's important. But, the key thing is that there is a lot of work to be done. Obviously, we talked a lot about what's going on on the field and how successful that has been, and I think we are also having similar success off the field. We are trying to help players and our clubs address the issues in the communities that they are concerned about.
On the cross-ownership vote:
RG: It is something that has been debated in this league, I've spent 38 years in this business, and I think it has been debated throughout those 38 years. And the ownership policies, on a consistent basis, are debated to make sure that we are doing everything possible to attract the best ownership into the league and also to maintain the quality of the ownership. But we also want to continue to do that and dynamics are changing. There are owners that are owning franchises across multiple leagues and that is happening more frequently, and I think the ownership looked at this and said that we don't see a competitive disadvantage as a league to having cross-ownership and we should open this up and allow others to come in and if they have experience in other leagues, that could be an advantage.
On the future of the Seahawks:
RG: We didn't have any discussion about it. We think it is inappropriate at this point in time to be having those kinds of discussions. The Seahawks have made plans. Paul Allen had made plans. At the appropriate time, those plans will be discussed.
On an update as to where the Oakland Raiders will play in 2019:
RG: No, there isn't. As you know, they are negotiating. We didn't get an update on that. We did get an update on the Las Vegas stadium from the Raiders, and the Rams and Chargers in Los Angeles. We did not have any discussion on that, but we know they are negotiating and we hope that will get resolved soon.