Roger Goodell dove headfirst into a sea of opportunity to enhance the NFL during Friday’s press conference. Goodell expressed that there were three critical areas central to evolution of the NFL. The first topic Goodell spoke on was player safety. Goodell said,
“We are doing more to protect our players from unnecessary risks. Hits to defenseless players this season were down 68 percent, and there were similar decreases in other areas pertaining to the safety of the game. We reported yesterday that concussions were down 25 percent this past regular season, continuing a three-year trend.”
Goodell also told the media about the NFL’s plans to create and fill a new position within the organization. He then elaborated on strategies that can be implemented to improve concussion protocol. Goodell said,
“Carefully reviewing and approving our concussion protocol will be a focus of our medical committees this offseason. And we are establishing a position of chief medical officer. This individual who we expect to have in place very soon, will oversee our medical-related policies, ensure that we update them regularly, and work closely with our medical committees, our advisors and the Players’ Association.”
Goodell subsequently discussed a willingness to examine and potentially change items within the game such as the extra point, improving the time and accuracy associated with instant replay, as well as expanding instant replays to review penalties.
“Last year, technology improved officiating,” Goodell said. “For the first time, it enabled us to directly involve officiating supervisors in our office in instant replay and for officials to use wireless communications on the field. …That’s important. Fans don’t want delays, coaches don’t want delays – they want action and accuracy.
“We are looking at other ways to enhance replay and officiating. That includes potentially expanding replay to penalties if it can be done without more disruption to the pace of the game.”
The idea of an expanded playoff system certainly seems possible under Goodell as he has routinely made overtures about what he deems to be an improvement over the current postseason format. However, the cons of an extended postseason are not lost on Goodell. Goodell said,
“The Possibility of expanding the playoffs has also been a topic over the last couple of years. There are positives to it, but there are concerns as well. Among them being the risk of diluting our regular season and conflicting with college football in January.”
While Goodell professes to be a proponent for player safety, he neglected to mention that more games would put players at greater risk for injury.
Goodell then broached the topic of personal conduct. He announced that Thursday, was the NFL governing body’s first meeting of the new league conduct committee, chaired by Michael Bidwell. Goodell said,
“The committee reviewed our new Personal Conduct Policy. It emphasizes ongoing education, prevention; support services and raises the standards for all of us in the NFL. Most importantly, it is clearly more effective.”
There are many changes that Goodell would like to see come to fruition, but many left his press conference unsure as to whether or not those changes will improve the game. With that said, we will soon find out. Goodell is relentless in the pursuit of his vision, and what he feels will nurture and protect the shield that is the NFL.
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