It’s all quiet on the western front for Roger Goodell and the NFL at the moment. Don’t confuse that with there not being anything on the horizon though. For starters, we’ll learn on Monday whether or not charges will be pressed against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Then later this month there’s the NFL Draft, in prime time no less. Then further down the road there’s the possibility of a labor lockout in America’s new favorite pastime. All that means is you can expect to see Commissioner Goodell front and center much more prominently in the weeks and months to come.
Goodell joined 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia on The Sal Pal Football Hour to talk about how much he respects the history and the evolution of the game heading into its 75th year of holding an NFL Draft, on the reported disconnect between owners and general managers concerning the new overtime rules, how he’s not concerned about his personal legacy if there were to be a work stoppage in the future, how the rookie pay scale will be a top priority when labor talks resume, and how he feels the NFL may be ready to play a Super Bowl in an open air cold weather stadium sometime in the coming years.
On how much time he spends reflecting on just how far the game has come heading into its 75th year of conducting the NFL Draft:
“Well, a tremendous amount. One of the things that I think is important to not forget is the tradition and the history of the NFL, and the people who helped build it. It goes to former commissioners, it goes to former owners, and it goes to former coaches and players. So many people contributed to the success of the NFL, and the decisions that they made 75 years ago still have a tremendous influence on our game. And of the things Burt Bell did was keep a focus on the game, the issue that Bob coined here with respect to his statements on any given Sunday was that the chain is only as strong as the weakest link. And the league philosophy, those are things that are still with the NFL today as a result of Bert Bell and what he did.”
On the reported disconnect between the owners and general managers in regards to the change in the overtime rules:
“No I just think at the end of the day, we all discuss about what’s best for the game. On three or four different occasions during these meetings, the coaches, the owners and the general managers were a part of the discussion. Most of the general managers were in the room when we actually had the vote. Everybody’s views were considered. I don’t believe it’s true that most general managers and coaches were against it. But I think that if everybody comes together and does what’s best for the game – that’s what happened here. This goes back to Bert Bell 75 years ago and what he’s done to innovate and change the game. We continue to do that with the NFL to innovate, and we did that here with the overtime where we took the exact same concept that Commissioner Bell came up with with sudden death and kept the sudden death elements of it but added a new twist, which I think is responsive to so much that we’ve heard from our fans. And the owners heard that, and the owners felt this was in the best interest of the game and wanted to vote this in. I think it’s a good decision.”
On if he thinks there will be serious discussion about the rookie pay scale in the upcoming labor talks:
“Yes, we’ve had a lot of discussion about it and I think there’s a recognition that the system is out of whack. I hear this from veteran players, and Sal, I’m sure you do also. Veteran players want this changed. It’s hard to see a rookie player who hasn’t played in the NFL make that kind of money when guys have performed at a high level on the NFL level. That’s where the money should be going.”
On if he’s concerned about a potential lockout in 2011 and what that might do to his personal legacy:
“I’m not worried about a personal legacy, I’m worried about the fans and what it does to a game. You know, a lockout or any work stoppage is not good for the game and the fans. That’s the issue. We want to make sure there’s an agreement in place that makes sense and allows us to continue to grow the game where the players will benefit, and the teams will be able to operate in a way that lets them invest in the game, and develop the game and grow the game. And that will be good for the fans. So that’s the agreement we’ve got to reach and we’ve all got to work hard to get there.”