Although the NFL's focus right now is certainly on Super Bowl XLVIII, that didn't stop reporters from asking NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a wide range of questions at his pre-Super Bowl press conference. The league is constantly evolving, and the topics of discussion on Jan. 31 proved that.
The press conference ran the gamut from Super Bowl locations to marijuana usage and everything in between. Some of Goodell's answers were more in-depth and satisfying than others, but much to his credit, he met most of the inquiries head on.
Although it is nearly impossible to cover everything Goodell talked about at the press conference, here is a look at the highlights that figure to be of particular interest to football fans everywhere.
Super Bowl Location Controversy
Goodell's decision to hold Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, N.J., has been questioned ever since he made the announcement in 2010, and that continued as early forecasts projected cold temperatures and perhaps even snow. As it turns out, the weather should be fairly mild, so the NFL dodged a bullet.
In defense of his decision, Goodell claimed that the weather issues have been minimal compared to other potential venues, according to Bob Glauber of Newsday:
Goodell on weather: "There were more weather complications (this week) in other markets where we've played multiple Super Bowls."— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) January 31, 2014
Despite the fact that he is seemingly happy with the way things have gone throughout Super Bowl week, Goodell didn't offer any insight regarding future cold-weather Super Bowls:
Goodell does not commit to future outdoor Super Bowls in northern cities. Says league will "sit back an review that."— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) January 31, 2014
Per Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, however, Goodell intends to explore new potential locations for the Super Bowl moving forward:
I believe we need to get to as many communities as possible and give them the opportunity to share in not only the emotional benefits but also the economic benefits. It helps the NFL, it helps our fans and it helps grow our game.
Goodell also said that he views Super Bowl XLVIII as a landmark moment in the NFL:
Goodell on NY/NJ Super Bowl: "We’re all going to look back at it as an important time in our history."— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) January 31, 2014
Should the weather hold up as expected, the NFL figures to reap the benefits from having the Super Bowl in the New York-New Jersey area. It is a massive market, and there is reason to believe the league will generate more revenue than ever before from Super Bowl XLVIII.
The NFL is all about making money, and Goodell has seemingly succeeded in a big way.
NFL's Possible Return to Los Angeles
Expansion and relocation talk is always rampant in the NFL, especially when a market as big as Los Angeles is without an NFL team. The L.A. talk heated up even more after reports surfaced that St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke recently bought 60 acres of land in Los Angeles.
Despite that, Goodell claimed that there are no stadium plans, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com:
On Rams owner buying 60acres of land in LA, Goodell says Kroenke informed them of it, no plans of stadium development he is aware of— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 31, 2014
Goodell also put Kroenke's purchase into perspective by pointing out that the Rams' owner is constantly investing and working on various projects:
Goodell: "He has billions of dollars of projects that are going on around the country."— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 31, 2014
Seeing as the Rams used to play in Los Angeles, it is only natural that fans are curious about Kroenke's actions. According to Mike Klis of The Denver Post, the Rams can break their lease with the Edward Jones Dome following the 2014 season if they so desire.
This may be pure happenstance, but that won't stop Rams supporters from panicking until someone puts a definitive end to these rumors.
Marijuana Use in NFL
Another topic that has come to the forefront recently is the use of marijuana among NFL players. In a recent interview, Goodell admitted that the NFL has taken under consideration the possibility of using medicinal marijuana to treat concussions, according to Chris Strauss of USA Today:
I'm not a medical expert. We will obviously follow signs. We will follow medicine and if they determine this could be a proper usage in any context, we will consider that. Our medical experts are not saying that right now.
Goodell remained diplomatic about the issue during his press conference by saying there aren't any current plans to change the league's drug policy:
Goodell says no change likely on drug policy in the near future - would take strong science/medical developments for that to change— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 31, 2014
In what turned out to be a lighter moment, Goodell admitted that even he is randomly tested for marijuana:
Roger Goodell asked if he is randomly tested for marijuana: "I am randomly tested and I’m happy to say that I am clean."— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) January 31, 2014
It's great to know the commissioner is on the straight and narrow, although some of his detractors might joke that his decision-making is evidence of impairment. Whatever the case, it is refreshing to see a commissioner like Goodell practicing what he preaches since it sets a good example for the players.
Potential Playoff Expansion
Playoff football generates a ton of revenue for the NFL, and common sense tells us that extra playoff games will lead to even more incoming money. Because of that, it isn't overly surprising that Goodell has been considering the addition of an additional playoff team in each conference.
Even though money may secretly be the main motivating factor, Goodell pointed to increased excitement and drama, according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com:
We think we can make the league more competitive, we think we can make the matchups more competitive towards the end of the season. There'll be more excitement, more memorable moments for our fans. And that's something that attracts us, and we think we can do it properly from a competitive standpoint.
Goodell went on to say that playoff expansion is something the league will continue to mull over:
Goodell says "there's a lot of benefit" to adding 1 team in each conference in playoffs. "Will continue to get very serious consideration"— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 31, 2014
Which of Goodell's talking points interests you most?
For comparison's sake, the NHL and NBA each feature 16 playoff teams per season despite having two fewer teams overall than the NFL. If the NFL bumps its playoff count up to 14, then it will be much closer to the norm.
Major League Baseball made the decision to add a wild-card team in each league two seasons ago, and it has received fairly favorable reviews thus far.
NFL teams that narrowly missed the playoffs this season, such as the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers, could have made some noise had they gotten into the playoffs, so expansion is definitely worth exploring from the NFL's perspective for myriad reasons.
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