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NFL meetings: Goodell lectures on sex, safety

The SportsXchange

During the first full day of the NFL owners meeting on Monday in Phoenix, commissioner Roger Goodell made a 90-minute presentation to team executives that addressed "How we are doing" and "Where we are going" as a business.

He also reiterated that that asking players questions about sexual preferences was "unacceptable."

That last piece of advice was a follow-up to reports that Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and other NFL prospects were asked questions about their sexual orientation, including one that allegedly asked, "Do you like girls?"

Reaction to these reports was swift and dramatic, including one that suggested the New York Attorney General's office should be called in to address the matter.

"We have been following up with the players and their representatives directly, " Goodell told the media. "We are also this afternoon working with all of our executives that lead in that position to make sure they understand what you can't ask and what you can ask. We're a professional organization.

"That's unacceptable. We will do things the right way. We will give them that education and that training. I hope that that will solve the problem."

On a the brighter side, in his presentation to team officials, Goodell made these observations:

-- There are 13 stadium projects in the works at a total estimated cost of $5.3 billion.

-- NFL stadiums were filled to 98 percent capacity last season.

-- NFL television audiences dominate that medium. Since 2005, prime-time television viewership is down 22 percent; but since 2004, NFL viewership is up 24 percent.

-- Digital media platforms, including online and mobile, have expanded and continue to grow significantly.

The session also included remarks from several NFL team executives. Among them were Charlotte Anderson of the Dallas Cowboys, who chairs NFL Foundation; Dr. John York of the San Francisco 49ers, who chairs the Health and Safety Committee, and Scott Hallenbeck, executive director of USA Football.

Those speakers, and Goodell, outlined the league's emphasis on player health and safety.

"The game is safer and better," Goodell said. "We are making process and our changes are working. But we have more work to do."

One of those changes includes a proposal that will be presented by the Competition Committee on Tuesday that will ban initiating contact with the crown of the helmet for both tacklers and running backs.

Several former running backs, including Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Marshall Faulk, said such a rule would be "ridiculous," because it prevents ball carriers from protecting themselves.

Regardless, the safety movement is so intense that the proposal is expected to pass this week.

Off the field, Goodell announced two significant moves.

One action expands the NFL's relationship with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a relationship that began in 2010.

The other move addresses an long and emotional feud with long retired players who seek more recognition and better treatment from the league and the NFL Players Association. Referred to as the Fred Dryer litigation, it specifically addressed the rights of former players whose likenesses have been profitable for the league and NFL Films.

"We are contributing $42 million into what is going to be considered a Common Good Fund, which will be administered by a group of retired players," Goodell said. "The fund is going to be used to support retired players who are in need."
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