The NFL's curious decision to move the Commissioner’s press conference from Wednesday to Monday of Super Bowl week and to keep it as an invitation-only event could become an issue in former NFL Network reporter Jim Trotter's retaliation lawsuit against the league.
If/when Trotter's case, of which the league currently hopes to secure dismissal, moves forward to the discovery process, the deposition testimony of Roger Goodell and others likely will include questions about the decision. Also, the league will likely be asked to provide a list of the reporters who were invited, and any internal communications regarding those who were or were not chosen to attend.
The argument would be that the change from Wednesday to Monday, combined with the invitation-only format, was aimed at reducing the possibility of the Commissioner being asked one or more difficult or problematic questions in a public forum, as Trotter did in 2022 and 2023.
This year, there is fodder for plenty of difficult or problematic questions. From the league's flip-flopping and inherent hypocrisies on gambling to Goodell's testimony in the lawsuit over whether the league is entitled to insurance coverage for the concussion settlement to the recent item from the Washington Post regarding the struggles of former players to receive concussion settlement, there is plenty of ammunition for the Commissioner to be asked a tough question or more.
The Trotter lawsuit itself cries out for a question to Goodell regarding the league's position that, even if Trotter's allegations are true, the NFL had the right to not renew Trotter's contract because of his efforts to press the Commissioner in a public setting about diversity in the NFL Media newsroom.
We'll see whether and to what extent the assembled reporters throw softballs. We'll see whether one or more tough questions are asked.
Even if tough questions happen, Goodell is skilled at stringing together enough words to tiptoe through a delicate topic and wait for the next question. That doesn't mean he wants to do it. This year's format could make it less likely that he would have to.
Most importantly to Trotter's case, this year's format potentially was selected as a direct reaction to Trotter's questions from last year and the year before. If that can be shown, it might help Trotter's lawyers establish that, when Goodell inevitably claims under oath that he wasn't bothered at all by Trotter's questions, there's a chance he's not telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.