State of the NFL: Roger Goodell on Super Bowl weather, more playoffs and marijuana
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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday commended the planners and the planning process for Super Bowl XLVIII, the first outdoor Super Bowl in a northern city in league history.
"We're all going to look back at it as an important time in our history," Goodell said. "We appreciate the magnificent job done by New York and New Jersey. And just to confirm, we will kick off at 6:30."
Yes, despite predictions of dire scenarios that might have forced the game to be re-scheduled because of weather, the game will go on as planned -- Sunday at 6:30 p.m. The forecast calls for cloudy skies with a temperature of about 40 degrees at kickoff.
"We are doing something innovative and unprecedented, something consistent with the essence of football and the Super Bowl," Goodell said. "This is the No. 1 market and a great stage for this Super Bowl matchup, and the world will be watching."
Goodell wouldn't commit to future Super Bowls in outdoor stadiums in the north, but he said he thinks other cities will be interested in hosting the NFL's showcase game.
"We'll all sit back and review that," he said. "We have a very selective process."
The New York-New Jersey area had well-below-freezing temperatures early this week, but Goodell noted that there were brutal weather conditions in other Super Bowl cities this week, including Atlanta and New Orleans. "There were more weather complications in other markets where we've played multiple Super Bowls," he said. "Weather is a factor when you play in the United States in February."
Goodell said he believes the focus now will be on the Seahawks-Broncos matchup.
"I think the story lines, the game itself will carry the day," he said. "And it should."
Goodell touched on several other topics in his annual state of the NFL news conference preceding the Super Bowl.
On expanding the playoffs from 12 teams to 14 by adding one wild-card team per conference:
Goodell is in favor of the idea, which he said would create additional compelling matchups late in the season. "This will continue to get serious consideration," he said.
On the possibility of allowing players to use marijuana for medicinal purposes:
"[Marijuana] is still an illegal substance on a national basis [although it is legal in Colorado and Washington state]. It is questionable with respect to the positive impact, but there is certainly some strong evidence to the negative impacts, including addiction and other issues. Our experts are not indicating that we should change our policy in any way. If it does, that's something we won't take off the table."
Goodell was asked if he would be willing to subject himself to being tested for marijuana. "I am randomly tested,'' he said, "and I'm happy to say that I am clean."
On whether the league will make any changes in the wake of the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito alleged bullying situation with the Dolphins:
"The No. 1 priority is to have a workplace environment that is professional," said Goodell, who has been in discussions with the NFL Players Association about expanding efforts to educate players about workplace behavior.
On centralizing instant replay, similar to the system used by the NHL, which does all reviews in one location: "We always make changes to our replay system. Our system is unique." He said he sees the idea building momentum in the coming years as a way to have more consistency on replay reviews.
On the league's Health and Safety Committee announcing this week that there was a 13 percent reduction in concussions in 2013:
"I think we've made changes in the game. We've made changes in the rules, changes to our equipment and changes in the way we deal with concussions when they do occur. All the changes are having an impact."
On the potentially offensive nature of the "Redskins" team name as it relates to Native Americans:
Goodell said the NFL is listening to concerns but cites overwhelming public support in surveys -- including among Native Americans -- for keeping the team name. "This is the name of a football team that has had that name for 80 years and has presented the name in a way that has honored Native Americans."
On not equating fantasy football with legalized sports gambling, which the NFL has fought against:
"I think [fantasy football] is great for families, great for fans and great for football."
On Rams owner Stan Kroenke buying a large parcel of land in the Los Angeles area and whether that means the team might relocate:
"Stan is a very large developer on a global basis. He has land throughout the country and throughout the world. He has kept us informed of it."
Goodell said Kroenke has not mentioned any plans for stadium development in Los Angeles. The Rams and the city of St. Louis have so far been unsuccessful in agreeing on upgrades to the team's indoor stadium downtown.
On the recent decision by federal judge Anita Brody to hold off on approving a $760-million settlement for a concussion lawsuit brought by former players:
“[Brody] is taking her time making sure the settlement that was agreed to between the plaintiffs and our attorneys . . . is going to work the way we intend it to work. The number one thing for us right now is to get the money in place so we can help the players and their families if they need it . . . We're confident we will get there."