NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took the podium in Arizona this afternoon to bring to a close the 2015 NFL Owners Meetings, and while he offered some updates he had no real news to report.
As is typical in these media sessions, Goodell took a bunch of questions about relocating franchises, about the Los Angeles market, about the possible resolution of any of the pending discipline cases, and about the possibility of expanding the playoffs. To all of those, Goodell's answers were serious but contained little that was definitive.
The following are some snippets from the way Goodell addressed those issues:
On playoff expansion:**
"We had a healthy discussion on that. This is something we've been evaluating over the last couple of years. Several factors went into the decision to at least postpone the expanded playoffs. Some of them would be on the competitive side … Whenever we make a change like this, we want to look at the positives and the negatives, what are the unintended consequences? We want to make the regular season more important, more exciting, and have more teams in the race. If we're not doing that, we want to make sure we understand why, and what else we could do to effect that. We also have scheduling issues as far as when we could play the games. Saturday, Sunday, we've looked at a Monday night. College football has its National Championship on a Monday night. We certainly don't want to conflict with that. There are a number of factors going on, and so we felt the right thing for us to do was to take another year to evaluate all this and make the right decision long-term."
On an NFL franchise in Los Angeles:
"We're focused on doing this right. If we're going back to the Los Angeles market, we want to succeed for the long term. We have a lot to do to get to that place, and so we're not focused on 2016. If it did happen in 2016, obviously you'd have to play in a temporary facility. We could not possibly construct a stadium in that time frame."
On the initiative for a new stadium in St. Louis:
"What they have done – I've spoken to the Governor and our staff has been there – is a good job of formulating a plan. They have a great site, a perfect site for a stadium as the Governor told me. They're working toward it becoming a reality, and I think we need to keep that momentum."
On the investigation by Ted Wells into Deflate-gate:
"We have not put a time frame on Ted Wells. We've asked him to be thorough and complete, and when he's finished with that then he'll give that to us and the public in general."
On possible punishment for the Browns regarding Text-gate:
"Any violation of our rules is something we take seriously. It affects the integrity of our game, and all 32 teams need to be operating under the same rules. Our clubs expect that, and our fans expect that."
On violating rules in general:
"There are mitigating factors, and factors you have to consider, but the violation of the rule and the integrity of that rule is not necessarily whether you got an advantage or not. It's the fact you broke a rule. That's a more general comment. We don't want people breaking the rules. The 32 clubs want to be operating under the same rules."
On teams violating tampering rules by signing UFAs before the official start of free agency:
"We want to protect the integrity of the rules. All teams have to play by the same rules. We want to make sure no teams are given an advantage as it relates to free agency. There are several teams and several instances we are looking at. They're all being taken seriously. As soon as we have enough information, we will make a judgment on whether it's a violation or not. Once that happens we'll certainly let everyone know publicly."
On the retirement of Joel Bussert, the league's senior vice president of player personal and football operations:
"Joel Bussert has served the league for 40 years. I've been fortunate to work along with him for a large majority of that. He represents the best of the NFL, in my opinion. He's someone who always puts the league first. He's a tremendous guardian of the game. He has been a wise counsel for three commissioners, and I can speak for myself a very wise counsel. He's made a difference in the NFL, and we're going to miss him. He's a extraordinary man, but also made incredible contributions to the league."