Critics of Roger Goodell — and there are a lot of them — probably think the NFL commissioner operates in an alternate universe.

For a brief moment recently, that actually was true.

According to SB Nation, Goodell took a break from handing his players suspensions to visit Stanford University, where he tried his hand with virtual reality devices at the Virtual Human Interaction Lab.

So, what did the commissioner hope to get out of the unique experience?

“He came here to learn about empathy,” Stanford professor Jeremy Bailenson told hosts Lauren Goode and Mark Bergen on Recode’s “Too Embarrassed to Ask” podcast. “He really wanted to understand how to think about issues of race, issues of gender. A lot of our lab’s research is about having people think about becoming someone else, and that’s why Goodell came.”

The New England Patriots likely will find the part about “empathy” amusing, as Goodell has done anything but see eye-to-eye with Tom Brady and his team while taking them to task during the drawn-out Deflategate saga. But maybe the commissioner’s VR training will help him see things from Brady’s perspective — and also work on being less of a robot in dealings with the media and fans.

The Patriots’ gripes aside, Human Interaction labs like the one at Stanford could be incredibly useful for the NFL and other clients, as it helps people better deal with race and gender differences by placing them in uncomfortable situations.

Thumbnail photo via Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports Images