Roger Goodell makes safety his responsibility

NFL commissioner vows to make safety a priority

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NEW ORLEANS — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to share the blame.

Goodell  ASSOCIATED PRESS
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Goodell

“Safety,” he said at his annual Super Bowl news conference, “is all of our responsibilities.”

Not surprisingly, given that thousands of former players are suing the league about its handling of concussions, the topics of player health and improved safety dominated Goodell’s 45-minute session Friday. And he often sounded like someone seeking to point out that players or others are at fault for some of the sport’s problems – and need to help fix them.

“I’ll stand up. I’ll be accountable. It’s part of my responsibility. I’ll do everything,” Goodell said. “But the players have to do it. The coaches have to do it. Our officials have to do it. Our medical professionals have to do it.”

Injuries from hits to the head or to the knees, Goodell noted, can result from improper tackling techniques used by players and taught by coaches.

The NFL Players Association needs to allow testing for human growth hormone to go forward so it can finally start next season, which Goodell hopes will happen. He said prices for Super Bowl tickets have soared in part because fans re-sell them above face value.

And asked what he most rues about the New Orleans Saints bounty investigation – a particularly sensitive issue around these parts, of course – Goodell replied: “My biggest regret is that we aren’t all recognizing that this is a collective responsibility to get (bounties) out of the game, to make the game safer. Clearly the team, the NFL, the coaching staffs, executives and players, we all share that responsibility. That’s what I regret, that I wasn’t able to make that point clearly enough with the union.”

He addressed other subjects, such as a “new generation of the Rooney Rule” after none of 15 recently open coach or general manager jobs went to a minority candidate, meaning “we didn’t have the outcomes we wanted”; using next year’s Super Bowl in New Jersey as a test for future cold-weather, outdoor championship games; and saying he welcomed President Barack Obama’s recent comments expressing concern about football’s violence because “we want to make sure that people understand what we’re doing to make our game safer.”

Also:

• New Orleans will not get back the second-round draft pick Goodell stripped in his bounty ruling;

• Goodell would not give a time frame for when the NFL could hold a game in Mexico;

• next season’s games in London – San Franscisco 49ers- Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers-Minnesota Vikings – are sellouts.

Goodell mentioned some upcoming changes, including the plan to add independent neurologists to sidelines to help with concussion care during games – something players have asked for and the league opposed until now.

“The No. 1 issue is: Take the head out of the game,” Goodell said. “I think we’ve seen in the last several decades that players are using their head more than they had when you go back several decades.”

He said one tool the league can use to cut down on helmet-to-helmet hits is suspending players who keep doing it.

“We’re going to have to continue to see discipline escalate, particularly on repeat offenders,” Goodell said. “We’re going to have to take them off the field. Suspension gets through to them.”

The league will add “expanded physicals at the end of each season ... to review players from a physical, mental and life skills standpoint so that we can support them in a more comprehensive fashion,” Goodell said.

With question after question about less-than-light matters, one reporter drew a chuckle from Goodell by asking how he’s been treated this week in a city filled with supporters of the Saints who are angry about the way the club was punished for the bounty system the NFL said existed from 2009-11.

“My picture, as you point out, is in every restaurant. I had a float in the Mardi Gras parade. We got a voodoo doll,” Goodell said.

But he added that he can “appreciate the passion” of the fans and, actually, “couldn’t feel more welcome here.”

COMING SUNDAY

Read about Butler graduate Carlos Rogers as he prepares to play in Super Bowl XLVII with the San Francisco 49ers against the Baltimore Ravens and find a preview of the big game.

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/02/13 - 08:32 am
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Helmet to Helmet Contact

It’s dang near impossible to eliminate helmet to helmet contact with the runner doing all he can do, including lowering his head, to stay on his feet. It’s not all the fault of the DB’s and LB’s. There is a way to do it, but most won’t like the way it will change the looks of the game. A much bigger, “bobblehead” type helmet with attachments to the shoulder pads that makes it impossible to receive a head injury. But of course, that’s going to slow down the mobility of all the players. Maybe we would get used to it with time.

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