Roger Goodell defends power, citing integrity of the game

ByKevin Seifert ESPN logo
Friday, April 29, 2016

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated Friday morning on ESPN Radio that he is still willing to consider changes to some areas of the discipline policy but nothing that involves what he classifies under integrity of the game.

"I am not going to hand off the integrity of the NFL to somebody who does not understand our business," Goodell said on ESPN's Mike & Mike. "That is what we're going to maintain when it comes to the integrity of the game. Maybe something as it relates to the drug program and whether proper protocol is followed? I get it. Go ahead. Somebody else can make that decision. But when it comes to integrity of the game, that is the commissioner's responsibilities and has been since the day the NFL was formed."

Earlier in the interview, Goodell said NFL players lost out on a more equitable disciplinary process by rejecting a recent NFL proposal.

The NFL Players Association instead pursued arbitration to address concerns that the league's personal conduct policy violated the terms of its collective bargaining agreement. Arbitrator Jonathan B. Marks rejected the NFLPA's claims earlier this month, producing no change in the policy.

"We had significant discussions over the last six months," Goodell said. "In fact, I think there was some real beneficial changes to the system that at the end of the day the union rejected. They went forward with the Marks arbitration, and the Marks arbitration reinforced our position again.

"I think that was a loss for the players. It was unfortunate. We were willing to make some changes that were better than what ultimately ended up in that Marks decision for the players."

Other highlights of the interview:

* Goodell said he was not aware of the brewing controversy Thursday night around Ole Miss offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil until after the Miami Dolphins made him the No. 13 overall pick. A video featuring Tunsil smoking what appeared to be marijuana was posted to his verified Twitter account 13 minutes before the draft started. Tunsil said the account was hacked.

Goodell said: "I think it's all part of what makes the draft so exciting. Clubs make deicisons. Sometimes they take risks. Sometimes they do the right things. Sometimes they don't, and we'll see. Hopefully he is going to trun our to be a great young player."

* Goodell said he would "of course" pick up the phone if one a representative of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady called to discuss a settlement to an ongoing appeal of his four-game suspension in the Deflategate matter. But he gave no indication he would consider a reduction. "We had a lot of discussions last summer," he said. "There were a lot of offers back and forth about what to do to settle the issue. They chose to pursue the issue and we chose to move forward and we are where we are."

* Goodell said the NFL's first choice is for the Oakland Raiders to remain in Northern California but did not dismiss the team's interest in relocating to Las Vegas. Raiders owner Mark Davis visited Las Vegas on Thursday and offered $500 million in private funds to help build a stadium.

The city's gambling industry does not disqualify an NFL team from moving there, Goodell said, and added: "I think all of us have evolved a little bit on the gambling." But he said he will be "absolutely opposed" to a move if "people feel that it is going to have an influence on the outcome of the game."

* Goodell said he does not consider daily fantasy to be a risk to the league because "I don't think it affects the outcome of games." He added: "There is a mashup of all these personalities. There is no influence to try to change the outcome of the game. That's an area where we have a very heavy line."

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