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The Commissioner speaks: what you need to know from Goodell’s press conference

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference today, and RealSport were there to bring you all the key talking points.

Roger Goodell has a difficult job. He’s responsible for growing the revenue of a league that is already close to market saturation in its native country, he has to mediate between 32 ownership groups consisting of powerful and rich business people (and the people of Green Bay), and is arguably the most universally scorned figure involved in the game.

Yet, every year, Goodell takes to the podium and fields the questions of the assorted media – some more hostile than others. RealSport was in today’s press conference, and these were the key talking points to come out of Goodell’s answers.

The NFL are heading back to Mexico

Yes, it was reported a while back that the Raiders will be hosting the Patriots in Mexico in 2017, but that’s all it was then – a report. Today, for the first time, Roger Goodell officially confirmed that the NFL would be returning to Mexico for a regular season game. One change from last year: Goodell said that it was very unlikely that the game would again be on Monday Night Football, and seemed to imply that it may not be in prime time at all.

Las Vegas is still alive…

The Raiders’ attempts to move to Las Vegas appear to be falling apart at the seams, but Roger Goodell remained ostensibly open to the notion of a Las Vegas NFL franchise. Now, Goodell did emphasise his desire “to protect the integrity of the game” in regards to gambling, and stating emphatically that “I don’t see an ownership position in a team from a casino… not likely [in] a stadium either,” but while he did reference the stadium financing issues, he stated that “the stadium project itself, the depth of the market, all of those are things that we’ve studied over the last several months, but that will increase in intensity over the next month or so as we move forward in [the relocation] process.”

… but San Diego and St. Louis, for now, are not

Goodell was asked by several members of the San Diego media about if there was any way that the Chargers may return to their city, and, on a similar theme, there was even a question about a return to St. Louis. The answer was clear in both cases – the NFL would love to return to both communities, but until there was a new stadium, it was simply not going to happen. Goodell particularly threw shade at San Diego: “for any team to relocate to San Diego at this point in time, we’re going to have to find a solution to that stadium problem, one we couldn’t do after probably 15 years of effort.” Doesn’t sound like San Diego should be getting its hopes up any time soon.

It’s not me, it’s you

When Roger Goodell was asked if his relationship with the Patriots organisation – and their fans – is now ‘awkward’, he simply replied “I would tell you that it is not awkward at all for me.” Goodell characterised Deflategate and the ensuing fallout as being simply a case of ‘them’s the breaks’ – the court ruled, and it’s now over with. In response to a question as to why he hadn’t been to a Patriots game since the end of the 2014 season, he simply replied: “if I am invited back to Foxboro, I will come.”

The NFL may just be ready to remember that they have fans

Last year’s dampening of viewing figures undoubtedly spooked the NFL, with reports that the league was considering all sorts of meaures, from getting rid of the early morning London-only Sunday game slot, to scrapping Thursday Night Football altogether. Today, Goodell hinted at some of the measures the league would consider in the offseason to make the viewing experience more pleasurable for fans:

  • Goodell said that the league was “thinking about whether we reevaluate” the decision to have all 32 teams feature on Thursday Night Football. With apologies to the city of Cleveland, any measure that results in fewer Browns games on prime time is almost guaranteed to automatically increase the TV audience
  • The NFL may review the number of advert breaks during the course of a game, intending on going reducing the advert breaks from five a quarter to four a quarter. Anything which prevents the ridiculous “touchdown – adverts – kickoff – adverts – game resumes” routine has to be a positive.
  • The league are exploring ways to increase the pace of the game, such as a playclock to force teams to line up for kickoffs following a score more quickly than the currently do, or having referees review plays on the field on a tablet rather than coming off the field.
  • And last but by no means least, perhaps the biggest potential shake up mentioned… the NFL may roll back the over-penalisation of touchdown celebrations. Long live fun!

What did you think was the biggest talking point from Goodell’s press conference? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Gur Samuel

Hi! I'm Gur and I'm RealSport's Editor-in-Chief. I'm also currently the site's tennis editor, and contribute to our NFL, wrestling and Formula 1 coverage as well. I'm also an NFL analyst for CNN International and contributor to SB Nation, and have contributed to, or been interviewed by, various print, broadcast and online media, including Sky News, the BBC, Al Jazeera, Mail Online, ABC, NBC, CBS, USA Today, the Boston Globe, and Yahoo! Sports.

The Commissioner speaks: what you need to know from Goodell’s press conference

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