NEW YORK -- Even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can have a little fun with all the press about Sunday’s Super Bowl taking place outdoors in a cold-weather stadium.
During his opening remarks at his annual “State of the NFL” address in New York at the Rose Theatre on Friday, snow was dropped from above the stage behind him to make light of all the press the cold-weather atmosphere has garnered.
“I told you we were going to embrace the weather," Goodell said as the snow started to fall behind him. "Here we go.”
Goodell went on to address a number of NFL-related topics in the 40-minute session, including the issue of marijuana in the game, concussions, games in London and future cold-weather Super Bowl sites.
What is the anticipation of other cold-weather cities with outdoor stadiums hosting the Super Bowl?
The two previous cold-weather cities to host a Super Bowl were in Indianapolis and Detroit, but the game itself was in an indoor stadium.
“We know there’s interest in other communities hosting the Super Bowl,” Goodell said. “I think the ownership will all sit back and review that when we’re done, but we have a very aggressive process in how do you select cities.
“The ability to host a Super Bowl is more and more complex because of the size of the events and the number of events, so the infrastructure is incredibly important. We’re well over 30,000 hotel rooms needed even to host a Super Bowl. There are some cities that aren’t going to be able to do it from an infrastructure standpoint, but we love the passion.”
Goodell later said the Super Bowl does need to get to as many communities as possible and that will help the game.
What can Lions and Falcons fans expect from the trip over to England for a regular season game in London?
“I think you’re going to be amazed by the passion for football over there,” Goodell said. “When I go over for the games in London I’m continually amazed at the breadth and knowledge for the game of football.”
The Lions will play a road game against the Falcons on Oct. 26 at Wembley Stadium in a game that will be broadcasted nationally at 9:30 that morning.
“I see it as a great benefit for the fans and the communities,” he said.
All three games being played in London next year have already sold out.
Could the NFL institute a NHL-like replay system where decisions are deferred to a central location?
The NHL, like the other four major sports, has a replay system, but their system defers decision to a central location in Toronto.
Goodell said the NFL could institute something similar to that with a central location potentially being New York. The NFL has been in communication with the NHL about how their system works.
“What we all want is consistency and fairness in our officiating and we believe that we might be able to achieve more consistency when we bring instant replay when there’s more of a centralized version and decision-making process.”
Goodell said it’s something the competition committee will consider over the next couple months.
”I do believe there’s a possibility that some version of that will occur where our office can at least be involved with the decision,” he said.
With the league's concussion settlement with the players on hold right now, what is the next step by the league?
The NFL and former players who sued the NFL over the concussion issue agreed to a $765 million settlement last year. That settlement has been put on hold, however, as federal judge Anita B. Brody determines if the amount is enough to cover 20,000 retired players.
“The judge is taking her time,” Goodell said. “She’s making sure that the settlement that was agreed to between the plaintiffs and our attorneys, under the guidance of Judge Philips, who’s the mediator selected by Judge Brody, that the agreement we reached is going to work the way we intend it to work.”
“The No. 1 thing for us right now is to get the money in place so that we can help players and their families if they need it. That is our priority.
“We are working with Judge Brody and with all of her experts to convince her between the plaintiffs, Judge Philips and ourselves that the settlement that we reached can provide the kinds of benefits we intended and we’re confident we’ll get there.”
With the health and safety of players being important to the league, would the medicinal benefits of marijuana ever be considered in the NFL?
“This is something that’s been asked several times and I’ll try to be as clear as I possibly can,” Goodell said. “It is still an illegal substance on a national basis.
“It’s something that’s part of our collective bargaining agreement with our players. It is questionable with respect to positive effect, but there is certainly some strong evidence to the negative impact, including addiction and other issues.
“We’ll continue to follow the medicine. Our experts right now are not indicating that we should change our policy in any way. We’re not actively considering that at this point in time.”
Goodell did not completely rule out the possibility in the future, however.
“But, if it does down the road some time, that’s something we would never take off the table if it could benefit our players.”
Goodell reiterated that he doesn’t see any change in the policy in the near future, though.