NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addresses several league issues

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

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The NFL's Roger Goodell on the spring meeting in Atlanta.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Commissioner Roger Goodell hailed the NFL’s diversity efforts while he also addressed several issues facing the league, including the ownership situation of the Washington Commanders, after the conclusion of the spring meeting in a hotel in Buckhead.

The league held a program where senior level executives met one-on-one with owners and spent about 45 minutes in the league meeting on Tuesday.

“We’ve never done that before,” Goodell said. “I think it gives them a unique perspective of how league meetings are conducted.”

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The league voted to slow down the hiring process for head coaches under its anti-tampering policy, keep the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis for 2023 and 2024 and planned to change the format for the Pro Bowl and perhaps eliminate the game, which has turned into a gloried scrimmage.

“How we are thinking about creating that into a celebration of our players rather than a football game,” Goodell said.

The acceleration program was designed to help the league improve its hiring record.

“I think this was the reaction of the ownership as well as others, that the future is very bright with the talent that we saw over the last two days,” Goodell said. “Extraordinary young people, both men and women, who are going to be a big part of the future of the NFL.”

Goodell also discussed the Deshaun Watson investigation, allegations the league conspired with Rams ownership to conceal their intention to move the team from St. Louis, and if other owners wanted to force out the Commanders’ Daniel Snyder.

Here’s what Goodell had to say:

Q: Could you gave us an update on where the Deshaun Watson investigation stands and when it will be completed?

A: “Sorry to disappoint you. I can’t give you the timeline. I think that process will go forward. I think we are nearing the end of the investigative period.”

Q: What was your reactions to the allegations against Washington’s Daniel Snyder (that he siphoned off ticket money) and to the speculation of other owners potentially thinking about forcing Snyder out?

A: “On the last point, I’m not aware of that at all. I don’t pay much attention to speculation particularly when I don’t know if it has any fact basis. On the first one, I think we’ve taken all of the allegations seriously. We’ll see if there are any fact basis to any of those. But we would certainly treat all of those seriously. We’ll deal with that once we know more better. We have (investigator) Mary Jo White working on that as you know and we’ll see when we get some facts.”

Q: Where’s the league at on the matter of minority ownership?

A: “We’ve passed a resolution with the point and the principle that anyone bidding on a franchise to consider having minority ownership. The good news in the Broncos case, we had several. That was a very positive development. We’ll see how that ends up. I think we’ve made it very clear that’s something that we want to have happen.”

Q: Was the league office too soft on Snyder and will that affect the most recent allegations?

A: “I think we’ve been open about that. We said in last July and we said that any circumstance with discipline, if any new information comes about, we take that as a consideration. We’ve said that at the time. We’ll say it here again.”

Q: What’s the league’s position on the Jon Gruden hearing set for Wednesday? If the case will be settled or will it go to court?

A: “I don’t think that’s a decision I’m going to make. Sounds like that’s a decision that the court is going to make. So, we’ll wait and see what the court decides.”

Q: How are you feeling about the sale of the Broncos and where this process stands right now? Are any of the bids including budgets to upgrade the stadium or build a new one?

A: “We are not going to get into any specifics of where the bids are or anything in that regard. ... I made this point today that the cooperation and communication has been very good between the Broncos and our staff. ... It is moving forward and when they get to a completion we’ll know that and then we’ll start our process.”

Q: Any update on the investigative of Stephen M. Ross and the Dolphins tanking as alleged in the Brian Flores’ lawsuit?

A: “There is not any update on that. Obviously, Mary Jo White is working on that. When she completes that, she’ll certainly update us and we’ll move forward.”

Q: What led to the decision for the combine to stay in Indianapolis for the next two years?

A: “I think it’s a recognition that Indianapolis really values the combine. Also, that they’ve done a terrific job on it. I think people are comfortable with that opportunity because we’ve done it for so long. We are also really focused on how we improve the medical evaluations (at the combine).

Q: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently reported based off documents they obtained from the NFL litigation that the NFL misled the city about Stan Kroenke’s intentions prior to that process became public. What assurances can you offer fans in other cities that they’ll hear the straight story from the league and their teams?

A: “Those processes end up being very public. Very transparent. I think everyone understands exactly what the club needs and what the community wants to do, and they try to work through and reach that type of agreement. None of us want to see relocations ... when they happen they are painful for everyone. We do our best to avoid that.”

Q: What did Goodell gain from the head coach and front office acceleration program?

A: “I understand that there was probably some skepticism out there about the program. ... I think what it showed to me is the extraordinary talent that we have. I think it also demonstrated that to our clubs. But it also gave those individuals an opportunity as far as seeing another side of the league and the way we operate. Also, the opportunity to really get to know some of the people who are decision-makers.”

Q: What ideas were kicked around as far as a solution for the Pro Bowl?

A: “I don’t know if I’ll say solutions for it. I think what we tried to lay out is what we’ve been talking to the NFLPA about and many of our players individually, I’ve spoken to several players myself about what works and what doesn’t work. I think the conclusion was that the game itself doesn’t work and that we need to find a different way to celebrate our players.”

Q: Do you sense concern or frustration from your ownership group about Snyder’s tenure?

A: “No, I don’t. I think those are things that each individual owner may have their own opinions on what’s happening. I’ve often said to everyone, including this group, let’s wait until we get the facts.”

Q: Does (owner) Paul Allen’s trust require that the Seattle Seahawks must be sold?

A: “I don’t see any immediate change in ownership.”

Q: How do you see the mechanics of the expansion of the Rooney Rule to the quarterback-coach position working in the future?

A: “I think we’ve been pretty open because we feel that where we need to work a little bit harder is on the offensive side of the ball because a lot of teams have stressed more of the offensive coach who has developed the quarterback and developed the offensive system. What we are trying to do with the offensive systems and with this change, as far as the Rooney Rule, is to try to do everything to encourage from a policy standpoint ... hopefully, we’ll be able to get more candidates to be in that position to get hired as offensive coordinators and head coaches.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

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Falcons owner Arthur Blank talks about the NFL’s diversity efforts.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

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