Roger Goodell on NFL officiating: ‘I don’t think it’s ever been better’
PHOENIX — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday held his annual news conference at the Super Bowl to address a wide range of issues, including a strong defense of the league’s officiating this past season.
“For us, when you look at officiating, I don’t think it’s ever been better in the league,” Goodell said. “Our officials do an extraordinary job. … Are there mistakes in the context of that? Yes. They are not perfect, and officiating never will. … We may not agree with every TV announcer or every officiating expert, but we think our officials are doing a great job.”
Goodell applauded the replay and challenge models in place to help correct officiating mistakes on the field in real time and rejected the idea that some of the league’s most experienced veterans have left officiating for television work as rules analysts.
Here were his comments on other key issues for the league:
- On the NFL expanding flex scheduling to include games on Monday night in 2023 and potentially Thursday night in the future: “It wouldn’t at all surprise me at some point that we have it on Thursdays at some stage, but not today. It will certainly be something on our horizon.”
- On this year being the first Super Bowl to feature two Black starting quarterbacks: “There’s such great talent at that position, Black and white. I was talking to Doug Williams about this just last week, the pride he has in seeing the advancement. I think we have 11 Black starting quarterbacks today, and they’re some of the best leaders I’ve ever seen. They’re extraordinary.”
- On continued efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in the hiring process with coaches and general managers: “It still feel like there’s more work ahead of us. I think there’s progress, and we’re pleased to see progress, but it’s never enough. We always look to see, ‘How can we do better?’ … We believe diversity makes us stronger. It’s about attracting the best talent and giving them the opportunity to be successful.”
- On the efforts to save the life of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin when he went into cardiac arrest on the field during a game and needed CPR to survive: “The thing I’m most proud about in that case was all the work that went into it prior to that happening. We have 30 medical professionals on the sidelines. We practice and rehearse the actual drills for that exact type of circumstance. We have the best of the best on the field, including expertise that were critical in that moment. … I’m incredibly proud of that.”
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- On the amount of concussions increasing, as well as evaluations amid changing definitions: “Any time we can change the protocols to make it safer for our players, we’re going to do that. … I think a reason why concussions went up this year, we had a broader definition, a more conservative definition. We had an increase of 17 percent in evaluations, and if you have more evaluations, you’re going to have more concussions. I think there’s more work to be done in helmets. We think that’s a big area for us to focus on, in how we improve those helmets.”
- On scheduling two 2023 games in Germany after playing the first regular-season game there in 2022, and continued expansion of international contests: “We want to make NFL football a global sport, and I think we’ll continue on this path. … We’re confident that we’re going to be there, well beyond any agreement we stated even a year ago.”
- On the Pro Bowl’s shift to a flag football game: “The Pro Bowl last week was incredibly well done. We had 52,000 people there, paying customers that really enjoyed the experience. They wrapped their arms around this event and I think the players love being there and their families. We had to make the determination that the Pro Bowl in its state last year was not something that represented the NFL well. We made the pivot to say we’re not going to play this game in the same context. … The players loved it. They were embracing it. They thought this was a great format. I loved watching it. … We have a lot to build on there. … I think this is the future for us.”
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