NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
by Curtis Crabtree
RENTON - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made an appearance at Renton Memorial Stadium on Wednesday evening for a "Play 60" event ahead of Thursday night's regular season opener between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.
After a panel for parents of young athletes with Hall of Fame players Walter Jones and Aeneas Williams, Goodell spoke with a few reporters regarding several key issues related to the league, including recent suspensions and the league's drug policy.
The ensuing Q-and-A with reporters is included below...
(On being in Seattle for the start of the regular season) "It's very exciting for us. Obviously, this is a great time of year. Everybody is undefeated. Everybody has got high hopes. You can feel the passion here. You can feel the energy as soon as you came into town. The people are ready for football to start. We see that nationwide but it's really at another level here in Seattle. They're ready to obviously greet their Super Bowl team back and get the season started."
(Why did you feel the need to admit you were wrong on Ray Rice and not just say we’re changing the conduct policy going forward?) “Well because I think you have to be accountable for what you do. The policy wasn’t where we wanted it and that was my responsibility. It was important for the ownership to understand that and how serious we are taking this issue. The importance of the work that needs to be done. IT’s not just about discipline. We’re going to step up every aspect of our program, our education, training. We’ve been working an awful lot over the years with experts in this field and I think we can really make a difference here and I wanted them to hear that directly from me.”
(How do you apply that forward to Ray McDonald’s situation?) “I think the first thing you have to do is let the process play out and get the facts and make sure you understand all the circumstances. We don’t right now. We obviously are following it very closely, but the policy we applied uniformly, players, coaches, executives, commissioners, I think we made that very clear in the policy.”
(Do you wait for charges to apply discipline?) “Yeah, I think that was very clear in the policy, not only charged, but we would wait for the legal system to complete it’s process, particularly in any case on a first case [offense]. That’s something that is very important to us.”
(Where do you stand with a drug policy that includes HGH? PFT reports it’s close) “Well I don’t know how you get any closer than we thought we had agreed to it in 2011. IT was in our agreement and we felt we had an HGH policy that was agreed to. We’ve had varying discussions with the NFLPA about getting that instituted. We think it’s overdue to get it done. We think it’s in the best interest of the players, best interest of the game and the best interest of the generations of young kids that look up to us. We welcome getting it done and we’re anxious to do so.”
(Has it gotten materially closer recently?) “You know my view on that is that unfortunately over the three years, a lot of things have changed. One minute it’s this issue. Another minute it’s another. We’ve tried to address all those issues. We think we have. I’ll be happy when we can announce we have the program done and completed.
(The reasoning for details of Irsay suspension?) “Well it’s very clear that we hold the standard of the shield and the league up against everybody. And so whether you’re a commissioner or an owner, in the management level, we hold you to a higher standard than the players. This penalty is 10 times financially more than a player would get and there is no discipline from a suspension standpoint for a first-time offended in DUI in the players. Now we would like to change that, but this is obviously six games and he’ll be subject to the same issues of testing and program-related that we would expect others to do. It’s very important for us to hold everyone up to that standard and Jim (Irsay) understand that and understands his responsibility.”
(Will he be allowed to collect his share of revenue from those games or is there even a provision that would allow you to bar him from doing that?) “No. I fined him to the maximum amount of $500,000. That’s the maximum I was allowed to do.”
(How did you get to 10 games for Josh Brent?) “Well you look at the issues, obviously. I met with Josh. We obviously had to go through a great deal of discussions with outside experts also, including representatives of MADD and felt that where he was this was an appropriate way to bring him back into the league, but he still has to meet a very high standard and he understands that. He can’t afford to have any mistakes from here.”
(Did league work to make sure Michael Sam would have an opportunity?) “You know, Michael Sam wants to be known as a football player. He just wants an opportunity to play. He earned that being a draft choice and he’s earned an opportunity with the Cowboys. All you want to see is he has that fair opportunity and he’s clearly getting that.”
(Did you work with teams at all?) “We didn’t need to. Teams are looking to get the best players they possibly can and they’re interested in him as a football player. I think you’ve seen the NFL has reacted to that, our teams have reacted to that, that’s what they’re interested in. Our players are the same way. They want players who can play the game.”