RAVENS TRAINING CAMP
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
Opening statement: "Good morning, good morning. Good to see you."
On what he would think when he heard "Baltimore Ravens" before he became commissioner and what he thinks now:"Well as you probably know, I grew up in the Washington [D.C.] area in the '60s, and I was a big [Baltimore] Colts fan. So, I understand the passion this area has for football, obviously for their Colts, and now for their Ravens. I think they continually demonstrate that. You can see the crowd out here today. They just love their football."
On the message he wants to deliver to the players today:"You know, it's a chance for me not so much to deliver a message, but to hear from them. I think it's dialogue, and I've had some great meetings. I get a lot from talking to the players. They talk to me a lot about what they see as trends and their views on issues, and I respect that. And it's helpful to me as I'm looking through my job and seeing what I can do better and the issues we have to address."
On whether he has talked to them today or if he will talk to them later:"Later today."
On whether Vikings QB Brett Favre has called him at all in regards to his "saga" and if it causes any distraction to the NFL:"Well, Brett Favre is great for our game, and I think the passion he has for the game is extraordinary. I think we all would love to see him play, but we want him to do what's best for him at the end of the day. And we haven't heard from Brett, so we're all reacting to media reports. So, I think I'd wait and hear what Brett has to say."
On whether he thinks Favre will play again this season:"I have no idea. That's not my decision."
On his level of optimism regarding the Collective Bargaining Agreement talks and where things stand right now:"We have to get to work. We have to get something resolved, and it's going to take an intensive amount of work. And I know the clubs are committed to working day and night to get that done, and I believe the NFLPA is also [working hard], and we've got to get that done."
On what the status is regarding those negotiations:"There are negotiations already scheduled and planned, so the talks are continuing."
On his confidence level that an agreement will be reached:"It doesn't pay much for me to characterize issues. I think we all know what we've got to get done and work to get an agreement that works for the players and the clubs, and most importantly, the fans."
On whether the NFL is going to move to an 18-game regular season:"That's one of the issues that's on the table that's being discussed. We've done a lot of work, obviously, on the club side of the ball, and we've shared all that work with the Players Association."
On the reaction he's gotten from the players regarding an 18-game regular season:"I think you have to balance that. You have to understand they're concerned about the same thing we are, which is, 'What about the health and safety of our players? And how do we do that the right way?' That's why we've talked about the comprehensive nature of this. It's just not you staying within the 20-game format and change it. You've got to look at the offseason, the training camps, the practices during the year. How do we prepare players and how do we make sure they stay healthy?"
On his thoughts of the rookie salary cap and the record contracts that were signed this year:"You know, I've been on the record with this for several years: I think the system is broken, and we've got to fix it. It's one of the issues we have to address in the Collective Bargaining [Agreement]."
On the concussion issue and the NFL's stance on the issue, and whether players will start looking out for each other more during games if it appears someone may have concussion symptoms:"Well, it's an important issue for us and our players and for the game – and for everyone who participates in active sports. And I think there's a better awareness of the risk and the importance of making sure they're treated properly when you do have a concussion. And of course, you do everything you can to prevent them from happening – that includes rule changes, equipment – but when they do happen, you want to make sure you're dealing with them cautiously. I think the NFL has made great strides in that, and we share everything we have with our players. We try to push the medical industry and the field to make sure they keep making advances in this area. To your last point, I think players are aware of what other players are going through out there. We actually had a couple instances last year – which team doctors and trainers have told me – [when] players have identified other players that don't seem right, and the doctors were able to evaluate them and make a determination, and in a couple of those cases they were concussions. I think that's a good thing."
On whether player self-reporting will be the biggest challenge with the concussion issue:"I think, yes. But I think again, it's part of everyone's awareness that these injuries need to be treated seriously and treated properly. And I think there's a greater awareness. It's a part of a culture change that we're going through in the NFL, and I think we've made great progress on that. We still need to do more."
On his relationship with owner Steve Bisciotti and the Ravens' front office:"I have great respect for Steve and [president] Dick Cass and [executive vice president/general manager] Ozzie [Newsome]. As you know, they all work very closely with us on League Committees and League issues. I admire them, respect them – like them very much – and I think this community is fortunate to have them. And the NFL is fortunate to have them, too."
On whether he is comfortable with where the instant replay system is and whether there is a thought to get the League more involved by bringing in its own cameras:"We could [bring in cameras], but I haven't seen that that's an issue. When we first implemented the instant replay system, that was one of the concerns, [but] we haven't seen that. We think we're getting the proper replays. Our networks cover us extraordinarily well, and there's not much that the cameras are missing nowadays – particularly with the technology changing into high [definition]. You're seeing more today than you've ever seen, and I think that's a plus for us being able to use instant replay and technology. It can be a negative in some ways, because there is more focus on those calls, and it highlights some of those calls."
On whether the replay system is unbalanced because some games have eight cameras and some games have 20 cameras:"I don't think it's that much of a difference, but I think you're getting the replays that you need to make the decision."
On whether he is concerned about attendance with ticket prices rising and the state of the current economy:"Sure. Listen, we have said this for the last couple of years: We recognize what our fans and our business partners are going through. It's tough out there, and I think our clubs have responded in each case in a responsible fashion by working harder, addressing their ticket pricing, addressing their marketing, making it easier for our fans to come to the stadium and enjoy events. We keep working on creating value for our fans, and that's what we always are [doing] – improve the quality, the value. And I think the quality of what we do is represented in the fact that we continue to be extremely popular. But that balance of the fans is something that we have to continue to focus on."
On whether some franchises have done a better job with this than others:"You always have a little bit of that, but of course, I'm not going to get into that."
On his message to Ravens fans that hear him talk about the negotiations and current state of the CBA:"Well, I'm only talking about it because you guys are asking me, so make sure you understand that. *(laughter) *I believe fans want to talk about football. I think that's one of the great things about coming to training camp is… I've been doing these fan forums around the country – and I have one planned here today and one later today. Fans don't really want to talk about [the CBA]. They just want to make sure they're getting football. That's what they're interested in and that's our responsibility. We have to work to do that."
On the "fan experience" he sees fans getting at an NFL training camp:"I think it's great, and I think that we're seeing a little bit of that trend. I was down in Kansas City last week, and they moved back from Wisconsin, back down into the Kansas City area. I think it's great for fans to be able to come out and see their team, see their players practice, and you can see the reaction by the fans here. But I'm seeing it on a nationwide basis as I go around."
On whether he believes football has surpassed baseball as "America's Pastime":"You know, I focus on football and just making sure that we do everything we can to be as popular as we can. That's my focus."
On whether dealing with off-the-field issues and the Personal Conduct Policy has been his biggest challenge as commissioner: "No. It's obviously one of the challenges, but I don't spend a lot of time on that issue. We've got great people in our league, great players in our league, and it doesn't take up a lot of my time."
On what goes into some of the disciplinary decisions regarding the Personal Conduct Policy:"The first thing you have to do is understand the facts and try to understand what's happening, what clearly did happen, and also hear from the individuals involved. And that's part of our job. We do an awful lot of work on that and take all these issues into consideration and try to be as fair and consistent as you can."
On whether Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has done what has been asked of him thus far, and whether he envisions his six-game-suspension being reduced to four games:"I'm going to meet again with Ben prior to the start of the regular season and make that determination, but I think he is doing what he's been asked to do, and frankly, more. I think he understands the seriousness of this and the fact that he has to change the way he's doing things. So, I'm encouraged by that."
On whether there is anything the League can do to get Art Modell in the Hall of Fame:"I just spoke to Art the other day – I was just mentioning to Dick [Cass] – and I think he's made great contributions to the League. As you know, that's not one of the issues the commissioner has any authority over. I know a lot of great people who belong in the Hall of Fame."
On whether the League will ever address the replay advantage that goes along with having home-field advantage and controlling what is seen in-house on video boards:"I think you're underestimating what the coaches go through. They're very prepared. They're watching not only the scoreboard, but they're watching upstairs in the box. They have coaches that are focused on what's on that television screen. So, I don't think that's any advantage, one way or the other."
On what has been the greatest pleasure since he's taken over as commissioner:"You know, I've said often before [that] I'm privileged to be a part of the NFL and privileged to be commissioner. And you know, when you get to do something that you love to do, you thank yourself every day for that opportunity and [you're] grateful for the trust that you have."
On how the bus travels have been for him so far:"It's been great; it's comfortable. Someone ordered me a salad and coach [John] Madden said, 'You know, we've never had a salad on this bus before.' (laughter). So, needless to say, I didn't eat the salad."
On whether he was ever at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore as a kid and how many times:"Oh yeah. Oh yeah, sure. I don't know [exactly how many times], easily 10 though. And I went to a lot of [Baltimore Orioles] games, too, by the way. The [Orioles] were one of my teams."