Roger Goodell joined The Herd today, to speak with Colin in a rare radio interview ahead of the Patriots/Falcons Super Bowl in Houston. They discussed a wide range of topics that every NFL fan has on their mind.
No topic was off limits, from Tom Brady and the Patriots, to the league’s handling of the Chargers exit from San Diego to Los Angeles.
On the perception that he is anti-Patriots
Colin asked the Commissioner about the perception in New England that the NFL is out to get the Patriots, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
Although he didn’t directly reference Deflategate, Goodell explained that whatever had been done by the league with the Patriots was in pursuit of the integrity of the game, and fans of the Patriots are entitled to their opinion.
“The fans are going to feel what they want. We obviously have 32 sets of fans. National fans that want to make sure that we’re doing things that are upholding the integrity of the game at all times.”
On his absence at Foxboro for the AFC Championship Game
When Colin confronted the Commissioner with direct question about why he didn’t show up to the AFC Championship Game in Foxboro, and the perception amongst Patriots fans that he ducked the game to take the easy way out, Goodell explained that he viewed the championship weekend as an either/or proposition, and opted to attend the NFC Championship game. Nothing to see here.
“We had two great games. I was in Boston 2 years ago, for the divisional and the championship games. I try to get to as many stadiums as I can.
But, you know, we have two great games, and you’ve gotta choose, and frankly, the focus should be on the players, the coaches, and the great game. That’s the way it was this week, and that’s the way it should be.”
On his relationship with Robert Kraft
Colin also inquired about Goodell’s tenuous relationship with Robert Kraft, and asked him if he agreed with the public perception that Kraft is unhappy with him after the fallout from the Deflategate scandal.
Goodell said the fact that some people are unhappy with his job performance means he’s probably doing it right.
“Colin, listen. I wouldn’t be doing my job if somebody wasn’t unhappy with a decision that you make, or when you’re doing it. Robert and I can disagree about things, we have a healthy respect for one another, but that’s true with any owner.
That doesn’t impact my relationship, or the fact that we work together to try to make the NFL better ultimately. That’s the most important thing, Colin, for us. I can’t agree with everybody, at every moment, and I shouldn’t.”
He also defended the league’s discipline of the Patriots, saying it’s business, not personal.
“A lot of these issues can be issues between teams. We, obviously, in many cases, have to discipline our clubs. That’s part of the process, and we do that with a large number of our clubs when they’re in violation of the policy.
But, it’s not personal, it’s professional, and making sure we do everything to protect the great game we have and promote it.”
On the Chargers leaving San Diego for Los Angeles
Colin has been vocal with his feelings that the end of the Chargers franchise in San Diego and relocation to Los Angeles was an ugly mess. He thought the fans and the city deserved a better effort from the league to assist in keeping a team in a Super Bowl city. He asked Goodell for his feelings on the Chargers move to Los Angeles.
Goodell wasn’t happy how things turned out in San Diego, but sees the Chargers in Los Angeles as the best option for the team and the league. He feels the league did everything it could to avoid the Chargers move.
“That’s why all of our relocations, these are painful processes. They’re painful four fans. They’re painful for the communities in general. They’re painful for the NFL.
So, we always work to avoid that, and we did that in San Diego. We worked very hard to try to avoid it. To make sure that went, not just the extra mile, but the extra three or four miles.”
Colin posed the question to the Commissioner, if the league would consider using portions of their massive TV revenue to step in and save a more traditional franchise, like the Steelers or the Bears, and asked why they didn’t consider doing it with the Chargers.
Goodell explained that the NFL doesn’t furnish stadium loans, and that it’s contributions that far exceed those made by any other sports league toward new stadium projects.
On marijuana in the NFL
Colin brought up the topic of marijuana use among NFL players, and whether the league’s attitudes toward the drug has lagged behind society as a whole. He asked Goodell if the league would consider taking weed off the list of suspendable drugs, and taking a generally less punitive approach.
Goodell defended the league’s approach and said the topic would likely be figured out in the next collective bargaining negotiations.
“We’ll always seek to find a better way to do things, and to see if the policy needs to be modified, as we did two years ago. It will be one of the subjects, obviously, that we’ll have in the collective bargaining process, which we would like to get into sooner rather than later.”
On Thursday Night Football
With the emergence of the concussion debate and the issue of player safety, the NFL has made a public effort to show they are making the game safer. Players have been critical of Thursday night games, saying they run counter to that narrative and put players at greater injury risk.
Statistics from the games may say otherwise, but the public perception is that the league is sacrificing player safety as a money grab for an additional night of TV games. Colin asked the Commissioner for his position on Thursday night games, and if he’s concerned about the negative perception.
Goodell made it clear that Thursday night games are here to stay, and that the perception runs counter to all statistical data that the league keeps on quality of play and injuries.
“By almost every barometer, the quality of the game is better on Thursday nights. Obviously, some games you’re gonna have, and they’re not gonna be as competitive, but you get that.
On safety, we have been tracking this every year, there has not been any, any indication, facts or anything else that would indicate that the level of injuries is up on Thursday nights.”
On social media and the Antonio Brown Facebook controversy
The NFL is known as, by far, the most restrictive professional sports league with its content, including social media and digital content. Given the recent Antonio Brown Facebook Live locker room with the Steelers, Colin asked the Commissioner if the league will be able to continue to take a hard line with its restrictive content use, given the rise of social media and other technology that that promotes increased access, as opposed to restriction.
Goodell responded that the accessibility of players to fans through social media to players is an overall good thing, but there are still certain places that should remain off limits in the rapidly expanding medium.
“We have an opportunity for our players to go directly to the fans. Those are all new opportunities. I think we are exploring each of those aggressively, but we also need to make sure that we protect, and make sure we are doing the right thing for our current partners, and our current negotiations.”
On handing the Lombardi Trophy to Tom Brady
Colin couldn’t let Goodell off the hook without asking him the million-dollar question on everybody’s mind. would he would be at all uncomfortable if the Patriots should win the Super Bowl in Houston, and he found himself on the podium, handing the Lombardi Trophy to Tom Brady?
“Not for a second”
“Tom Brady is one of the all-time greats, he has been for several years. He’s on the precipice of, at least potentially, winning his 5th Super Bowl ring. He’s an extraordinary player, a great performer, and a sure-fire hall of famer. So, it would be an honor.”
Everybody wants to see this.
Here’s Colin’s full interview with Commissioner Goodell.