NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with members of the media at Wednesday's Special Meeting in Dallas. Here's a recap of some of the key issues that Goodell discussed and/or was asked about.
One of the main issues was expanding the playoffs from its current 12-team format, which Goodell said was under consideration.
"Right now, we are at 12 teams, obviously," Goodell said. "We will look at probably 14 or 16. The committee will be looking at that. "
The current format appears to be perfect, both in terms of the number of games in January and ensuring that nearly all of the 256-game regular season remains important. Any expansion of the postseason would likely involve the elimination of bye weeks in the postseason, requiring the top two teams in each conference to play in the wild-card round.
With one "Thursday Night Football" game remaining on the 2012 schedule, Goodell was asked about how playing games in the middle of the week impacts the safety of players.
"We don't have any information that indicates from our data that playing on Thursdays in any way decreases the safety of our players," Goodell said. "The injury rates do not indicate that at all over the years. You start with the facts. The facts are that it is not a risk to the players. "
Perhaps player safety may not be as great an issue as "player availability." The shorter work week has resulted in players missing that game, such as last week, when the Denver Broncos played without guard Chris Kuper and linebacker (and leading tackler) Wesley Woodyard. Both had ailments that quite possibly would have allowed them to play on Sunday had the league not insisted on creeping into the work week by scheduling games on Thursday nights.
Fortunately, Goodell is less gung-ho on a desired 18-game regular-season schedule.
"We have said that we won't do that unless we can do it the right way, and that includes safely," Goodell said of expanding to 18 games. "We made that determination in the collective bargaining agreement."
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With former commissioner Paul Tagliabue vacating the suspensions of the four current and former members of the New Orleans Saints for their alleged involvement in a bounty program, Drew Brees says Goodell should apologize.
Goodell said that he did not regret appointing Tagliabue to rule on the appeal and was adamant that the league does not owe the Saints an apology.
"No. Again, I don't have the report in front of me, but commissioner Tagliabue said there is no one here that should feel good about their role in this with respect to the Saints," Goodell said. "People made judgments and none of them should be feeling very good about those judgments. To have a bounty program where you're targeting players for injury is completely unacceptable in the NFL, and it is clear that occurred for three years despite all of the denials.
"His [Tagliabue's] report made it quite clear that he holds the management and the coaches responsible. My personal view is I hold everyone responsible," Goodell added. "We have to have a personal responsibility here. Player health and safety is an important issue in this league. It is going to take everyone. We are all going to have to contribute to that, whether you are a commissioner, whether you are a coach or whether you are a player. We all have to be held accountable for it. I fundamentally disagree that this is something that lies just with coaches and management.
"As you know, I took some very significant steps with respect to management and coaches. I do think that is important and I do think their leadership position needs to be considered, but I believe these players were in leadership positions, also."
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