SAN FRANCISCO — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell briefly showed emotion when he laughed to start his annual Super Bowl press conference. Robo-Goodell 3000 quickly apologized.
The sham that is Goodell’s yearly state of the shield was in full effect Friday. If media members and questions aren’t planted to begin the presser, then the NFL is luckier than the New England Patriots on coin tosses. Goodell announced the NFL will return to Mexico on Nov. 21 when the Oakland Raiders take on the Houston Texans. He said the NFL’s goal is to “get better.” He touted player safety while also bragging about the NFL’s upcoming Thursday night “tricast.” The games all players hate because they aren’t well-rested enough will now air on network, cable and be streamed. Three ways to watch terrible football. Yippee!
But the commish was at his most Goodell-ian when asked specifically about the NFL’s random PSI testing in response to the New England Patriots’ Deflategate scandal that was conducted throughout the season. Goodell told NFL Media’s Rich Eisen there were no infractions this season. What, exactly, does that mean?
“A couple things,” Goodell started. “One, as you know, at the beginning of the season, we made changes to our protocols, of how we were going to manage the footballs. That’s how they were going to be managed in the moment — taken into the stadium to right after the game. We have implemented that. As part of that, and it happens in most of our game operations areas — we conduct random checks. We make sure that clubs understand that we will look at that type of procedure and make sure there are no violations of that. We did that, on a very limited basis.
“We don’t disclose all the specifics on that, because it’s meant as a deterrent. If you tell everybody how many times you’re checking, and which games you’re checking, it’s not much of a deterrent. It’s a deterrent when they think that game may be being checked.
“It’s also important that the data that was collected in that was not data for research. It was data that was collected just to see if there was a violation. Our people never found a violation. There was never an accusation of a violation by any other club. And so, we’re comfortable that this policy, this rule, was followed by our clubs. We do this across the board in our game operations. There are many areas of our game operations that requires that type of thing.
“Second of all, we did a great deal of research, scientific analysis last year that was part of the whole appeal hearing. There was Ted Wells’ report, where he went and got independent people to study this type of issue. So the intent of what we were doing was not a research project. It was to make sure our policies were followed just as we do in other areas of our game operations.”
Well, that clears up … nothing. Nothing at all. It took Goodell over 300 words to say “no comment.”
Perhaps more interestingly, Goodell was asked whether he would reinstate New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension if the NFL wins its March appeal against U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman’s decision to nullify the ban.
“I’ve said it publicly many times. This is not an individual player issue,” Goodell said. “This is about the rights we negotiated in our collective bargaining agreement. We think they’re very clear. We think they’re important to the league going forward, and we disagree with the district judge’s decision. We are appealing that, which is part of the legal process. I am not focused on it right now.
“I’m not going to speculate what we’re going to do depending on the outcome. We’ll let the outcome be dictated by the appeals court. When it happens, we’ll deal with it then.”
If Goodell really stood by his decision to suspend Brady four games for his role in Deflategate, why wouldn’t he stand by that a year later? There might be no reason to look into Goodell’s answer at all, however. When he has the chance of saying nothing, he chooses it.
Hilariously, he did take a stand when USA Today’s Tom Pelissero asked why the NFL isn’t pursuing the investigation into Peyton Manning’s alleged HGH use with the same “public gusto” as Deflategate and other league controversies.
“Well, Tom, we are,” Goodell said.
Well, Roger, you aren’t. And you even admitted as much.
“We do not have an independent investigation going on, at this point, other than working with the other leagues and (the World Anti-Doping Agency),” Goodell said. “If we feel that’s necessary at some point, we may do that. At this point, we don’t.”
Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images
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