A day after announcing the plan to establish a Rooney Rule for women in executive roles with teams, Roger Goodell is back at it, addressing a plethora of issues he's planning on resolving and changes he will work on to make football a better and safer game.
In his State of the League address on Friday, Goodell started things off talking about player safety, which led into a suggestion he has made to the competition committee: creating a rule in which a player is ejected from a game after committing two personal fouls in that game.
Goodell's comment came when asked about any rule changes the league might have in reaction to suspensions like Vontaze Burfict's and Odell Beckham Jr.'s this season. Burfict has accrued 13 personal foul/unnecessary roughness penalties over the course of the last three seasons, while only playing in 31 games.
This seems like a pretty fair rule, similar to that of soccer's carding system. The first flag acts as a warning, as well as a penalty, and the second flag would warrant an ejection. While the rule may have stemmed from Burfict's violent and reckless on-field behavior, it is certainly fair. The only problem with this rule is the fact that certain players' reputations could cause them to be unfairly flagged more frequently. This is a rule the competition committee will work on during the offseason after Goodell suggested it to them already this offseason. Goodell mentioned, when it comes to personal fouls, "we should take that out of the hands of the officials... that's a competition committee matter." The potential new rule will be discussed at the Combine in February and league meetings in March, Goodell said.
Continuing on the topic of player safety, the commissioner also noted that the NFL will have a new helmet next season to help advance safety technology. The league's (reported) concussion rate is increasing at an exponential rate, so new helmets could go a long way to tracking and monitoring concussions.
The biggest news from the State of the League came in the form of the announcement that the NFL will return to Mexico next season. In what seemed to be a response to a staged question from a NFL reporter based in Mexico, Goodell announced the Oakland Raiders will host the Houston Texans at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on Monday night, November 21, 2016. The league quickly released a press release moments later, which stated the game will be televised live on ESPN in the United States as well as Televisa and ESPN in Mexico, marking the first-ever Monday Night Football game to be played outside the U.S.
In the press release, Goodell said, "Expanding our International Series of regular-season games to Mexico marks an important step in our continued international growth. We have a tremendous, passionate fan base in Mexico and we know the atmosphere on game day will be outstanding."
Also regarding international NFL games, Goodell indicated that depending on continued interest from the UK, a London franchise could be realistic down the line. He also made it clear that he hopes that the Raiders and Chargers stay in their respective cities, now that the Rams have made the move to Los Angeles.
Mexico City, however, could be an ideal landing spot for the Raiders in five years or so if there is still a dispute as to whether the team should move. Mexico City (and entire country of Mexico, for that matter) loves the Raiders, who will be playing in Mexico for the second time in franchise history (the first of which was in 2005).
Goodell also strongly addressed the issue of medical marijuana, claiming that "[he doesn't] distinguish between marijuana and medical marijuana." Goodell claims that the league's medical professionals are the people who have the biggest say in regards to marijuana, and he emphasized that he doest expect the recent legalization of marijuana in several states to change the league's view on marijuana.
The commissioner even had something to say about Johnny Manziel, who looks like he could be on his way out of the league with continued actions that misrepresent the league. "I've said this many times, there's a tremendous amount of focus from the public and media on discipline, but that's a small part of our personal conduct policy, which tries to prevent these incidents from happening... Everyone in the league office has gone through extensive education to understand these issues... They're NFL players, but young men first. If we can make [our policies] better, we will engage in that dialogue."
One of the most interesting parts of Goodell's 50 minute speech came in regards to the Pro Bowl and his acknowledgment that the current game is not working.
"I was disappointed in what I saw on Sunday. I had raised this issue three to four years ago. We worked with players to make changes in the game. They had a positive impact in the short term, but I didn't see that this week... I think it's very important to have a stage in which we recognize our great players," Goodell said.
"We may have to think about that differently than we did in the past. I think our biggest standard has to be what we and our fans expect from the NFL. If it's not quality, we have to do something different. I'm open to new ideas. It's not the kind of game we want to have in its current format, based on what we saw last week."
The last big issue Goodell touched on is early retirement, but, he completely denied early retirement being an issue.
"I think each individual player makes his individual decision on how long he plays the game, who they play for... those are decisions we respect. We will continue to support our players, but I don't see so many people walking away from the game. I don't agree with that," Goodell said.
Goodell said he talks to players "all the time" who say they wish they could play forever. "If you lose that passion, maybe it is time to move on," Goodell added. "I don't know what Calvin Johnson is balancing; he's a great player a great man, and if I can do something to help him I would, whether it's now or in his next stage of life."
The commissioner also mentioned that if he had a son, he would encourage him to play football, claiming that "There's risk in life. There's risk in sitting on the couch." The quote has already taken off on Twitter with many mocking the commissioner for such a strange and out of touch comment.
A lot of the press conference felt scripted, but, many beneficial changes could be coming to the NFL, and it looks as though the league is on track to continue its success for years to come.