Goodell: Player input is valuable to league

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on NBC’s “Football Night in America” with Dan Patrick and Tony Dungy to discuss the newly formed NFL Player Advisory Forum. The transcript is below.

Dan Patrick: “Why now? Why announce this program now?”

Roger Goodell: “We are always taking player input on a variety of matters both on and off the field. We had a player advisory committee. Tony and I had been talking about how input has been so valuable to the league and we agreed that we could do more. Tony was gracious enough to give us his time and resources to be able to get the right kind of players in a room and give us that kind of feedback.”

DP: “But why now? Why Week 11 and not before the season?”

RG: “I think this is something that will go on through the offseason. This is not something we’re going to do for two-three weeks. This is something we intend to do for the long term.”

DP: “Why Tony?”

RG: “People forget that before Tony was a great coach that he was a player in the league. He has a great credibility with the players and the NFL in general. I admire him so much. We’ve talked about this an awful lot the last couple of months.”

Tony Dungy: “That was one of the things we used to say when I was playing, ‘Boy, if Commissioner Rozelle knew this. I wish I could get this message to him.’ I think it’s great that the players can do that.”

DP: Has there been any rule changes from prior player meetings?

RG: We’ve had a lot of rule changes that have come directly as a result of the players input mostly around the safety issue. They identify techniques that are happening that they think are risky both to the player doing the striking and the player taking the hit – whether the horse collar, some of the cut-back blocks, the low-cut blocks; I heard from two teams this week. They’re very concerned about those low-cut blocks.”

TD: “A lot of players had issues about the player conduct – Pacman Jones for instance – I know you heard from a lot of guys that, ‘Hey, we want to get this under control.’”

RG: “There’s no question. The Personal Conduct Policy was really done in conjunction with the players. I must have spoken to well over 150 players who had a lot of input including our Player Advisory Committee and they helped us formulate a policy that I think is terrific and had a great impact. I like to think that this is not only football and business and life. They give us input on all three of those matters.”

DP: “We know that you’re knee deep in negotiations or at least talk on both sides with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Peter King from Sports Illustrated spoke with representatives of the players’ union, who said they wondered about the timing of this, that you’re aligning yourself with some players as a backdoor way of creating favor with them. Your thoughts on that?”

RG: “I’m a Commissioner for everybody in the NFL. That includes the players, the coaches, the owners and I believe the fans also. I’ve always reached out to the players. That’s not what this is all about. I’ve invited them if they wanted to come in. I just met with two teams this week. I regularly seek the input of the players. My record’s clear on that one. I’m going to continue to do that regardless of the negotiations.”

DP: “Are you surprised there’s been that kind of reaction by the Players Association?”

RG: “I wasn’t even aware of their reaction.”

DP: “A report that Jay Glazer from Fox had where you’re going to have independent neurologists looking at players with concussions. What was wrong with the previous plan?”

RG: “I don’t think there was anything wrong with it. As we learn more and more, we want to give players the best medical advice. This is a chance for us to expand that and bring more people into the circle to make sure we’re making the best decisions for our players in the long term.”

TD: “Did the players ask for this? Was this input from the players, too?”

RG: “Not specifically, coach. But they’ve always talked about the concussions. One of the things I’ve always stressed with them is help us identify players when they have some type of a head injury and identify those players so they can get the proper medical care, not so they make the medical decision, but so they can identify a player who needs to see a medical person.”

DP: “If you want to stay in the studio audience, you’d be welcome to.”

RG: “Thanks. I watch every weekend.”

DP (joking): “I noticed when you walked by Rodney Harrison, did you ask for more money?”

TD (joking): “Rodney left when he came in.”

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