5 takeaways from Roger Goodell’s Super Bowl LIII press conference
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held a press conference Wednesday in preparation for the Super Bowl LIII matchup between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams.
Unsurprisingly, many of the questions lobbed his way surrounded a controversial non-call from this year’s NFC Championship.
Here are a few quick takeaways:
1. The NFL will look into expanding replay.
As a result of the officiating mistake in this year’s NFC title game, Goodell said the league and its Competition Committee will look into expanding instant replay to include judgement calls.
Right now, judgement calls are not reviewable; that includes roughing the passer, holding, and pass interference penalties.
However, it’s worth noting that the NFL’s latest controversy surrounds a non-call — and finding a solution to that issue could do more harm than good. Because of that, Goodell says he’s comfortable entering the 2019 season with the status-quo, assuming the Competition Committee and owners cannot come to a fair solution.
“We understand the frustration of the fans,” Goodell said, when asked about the no-call on a clear defensive pass interference in the Saints’ loss to the Rams two weeks ago.
“I’ve talked to coach Payton, the team, the players. We understand the frustration that they feel right now and we certainly want to address that. So, whenever an officiating (call) is part of any kind of discussion postgame, it’s never a good outcome for us. We know that, our clubs know that. But we also know our officials are human, we also know that they’re officiating a game that moves very quickly and have to make snap decisions under difficult circumstances, and they’re not going to get it right every time. As I said, they’re human.
“We’ve worked very hard to bring technology in to to try to make sure we could do whatever’s possible to address those issues, but technology is not going to solve all those issues. The game is not officiated by robots, it’s not going to be. But we have to continue to go down that path…
“As far as where we can go, we will look again at instant replay. There have been a variety of proposals over the last frankly 15, 20 years of ‘Should replay be expanded?’ It does not cover judgement calls; this was a judgement call. The other complication is that it was a no-call. And our coaches and clubs have been very resistant, and there has not been support to date, about having a replay official or somebody in New York throw a flag when there is no flag. They have not voted for that in the past. It doesn’t mean that we won’t; it’s something we’re going to put to the Competition Committee, see if there’s an answer to that. But the reality is that’s been at least an opposition philosophically for many clubs.”
2. Goodell appears to stand by decision to not offer public comment.
Before Wednesday afternoon, Goodell hadn’t publicly commented on the officiating mistake. That decision drew plenty of criticism, including a notable statement from Saints tight end Benjamin Watson.
Goodell was asked why he waited to long to say anything about the game, and hinted that his approach was consistent with league protocol.
“As I said to you, we addressed this immediately after the game. We spoke to the coach, the coach announced the conversation and the fact that this play should have been called, and we had several conversations with those clubs and other officials over the next several days. That’s our process, that’s what we always do in particular with judgement calls. So it was handled no differently.”
3. The decision to cancel Maroon 5’s press conference was based on… social media?
It is customary for Super Bowl halftime performers to hold their own press conference, but in a surprise move, Maroon 5’s conference was cancelled.
It doesn’t take much to assume the league’s incentive behind that decision. Several artists have publicly opposed performing for the NFL in a show of support for Colin Kaepernick, and in opposition to the league’s new national anthem policy.
Goodell avoided mentioning the controversy, and instead said a changing media landscape was behind the decision:
“I wasn’t expecting that one. I will tell you that when we have looked at how we do things around the Super Bowl — that includes press conferences, that includes announcements — we have all looked at how the world is changing. And for us, and particularly for our artist in this case, one of the things they really wanted to do is to be able to use the new opportunities we all have through social media and other platforms to be able to reach their fans directly… and as we look forward to the future, there may be more changes like that.”
4. Goodell did his best to dodge questions about Colin Kaepernick.
Colin Kaepernick, 31, has remained unsigned since 2016, despite being a former starter. It’s led many to question whether NFL teams have blackballed him as a result of his decision to kneel during the national anthem in a protest of racial inequality. (Kaepernick has since filed a grievance against the league.)
For the most part, Goodell has avoided conversations about the former quarterback. But when two reporters asked back-to-back questions about Kaepernick Wednesday, the commissioner had this to say:
“I’ve said it many times privately, publicly, that our clubs are the ones who make decisions on players that they want to have on their roster. They make that individually, they make that in the best interest of their team, and that’s something that we as the NFL take pride in. Individual clubs make decisions that maybe another club won’t do. And they all want to win and they’re all going to do whatever they can to win. So from our standpoint, that’s our focus and that will continue to be our focus…
“I think if a team decides that Colin Kaepernick or any other player can help their team win, that’s what they’ll do. They want to win, they make those decisions individually in the best interests of their club.”
5. Goodell discouraged fans and critics from judging the success of the Rooney Rule based on a one-year period.
A recent study by the Associated Press revealed the league had just four people of color in offensive coaching positions last year. Because owners typical favor candidates with offensive coordinator and/or quarterback coaching backgrounds, this issue is especially concerning.
Goodell was asked about that issue, and had this to say:
“We don’t look at the success or failure of the Rooney Rule in one-year increments. We’ve had the Rooney Rule around for nearly 20 years. It’s had an extraordinary impact on the NFL. Over 20 clubs have hired minority coaches since that period of time. And it’s also been a signal for other industries throughout the world, frankly, to adopt a Rooney Rule to change their organizations. And I think it has. It’s created opportunity, it’s given people an opportunity that have not had them in the past, and that’s a core of what we’re looking for. Second, I would say as it relates to offensive coaches, we all believe, in talking with the Fritz Pollard Alliance… what we want to do is to figure out how we can continue to create a deeper pool of coaches so that they have that opportunity when coaching opportunities arise. So we’ve focused on a few things, we’re going to meet with them again at the combine in February… and we believe that that is something that is critical for us going forward to continue the progress we’ve had.”
The Fritz Pollard Alliance, a foundation that advocates for diversity in coaching and team staff roles, has offered a proposal to the league that would create two entry-level positions for minority candidates on each coaching staff.