Goodell discusses player safety during live chat

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell chatted live with fans on NFL.com Thursday, spending much of the chat discussing the league’s committment to player safety, the rules involing illegal hits and enforcing those rules during games.

Here’s a sample of some of the questions answered by Goodell:

Kelsey, North Carolina
Have you given any thought to donating the money from illegal hit fines to solving the neurological issues faced by retired players on both sides of the ball?

Goodell: Yes, Kelsey. In fact, player fine money that our office collects goes to the NFL players assistance trust and charitable initiatives supporting youth, education and sports-related medical research. We are investing in other ways in the overall concussion issue.

Chris, Kentucky
Do you think the new “hit rule” will change the game?

Goodell
: Chris, it is not a new hit rule. The rule has not changed from the rule that was adopted this past spring by the membership after careful study by the competition committee. It is intended to take techniques out of the game that have had a higher risk of resulting in injury. We’ve done this over several decades to make the game safer while still maintaining the integrity of the game.

Andrew, Toronto
Mr. Goodell, You have stated player safety is one your highest priorities. Why then do you insist on extending the regular season by two games? There is a huge difference between meaningless exhibition games regular season games.

Goodell: Unfortunately, players get injured in preseason games. You always have to do what you can to make the game safer for the players. That includes the offseason, preseason, regular season and postseason. We are working closely with our players to do it right. We’re not proposing a change in the 20-game format, but fans have been outspoken in a lack of interest with our preseason. It’s similar to what we did in 1978 when we went from 14 regular season and six preseason to the existing 16 and four.

Daniel Lonergan, Missouri
Mr. Commissioner what are your thoughts on all the crazy responses about the illegal hits? Especially from James Harrison?

Goodell: Daniel, I have spoken to several players, including James Harrison and Brandon Meriweather, in the last 24 hours. I certainly respect their opinions and value their input. I appreciate the fact they call to give me their perspective. We recognize the game is fast, but we will continue to have our number one priority to be creating rules that will protect player safety and enforcing the rules we have in place.

Victor, Fresno, Ca
What are your thoughts on fans who say the NFL will be flag football in a couple of years?

Goodell: I couldn’t disagree more. Our game continues to be exciting and tough with record popularity. For decades we have made changes to the game and eliminated techniques that have made the game safer, and the reaction has been similar — that it will change the game forever. You can look at changes such as removing the clothesline, chop blocks, crack-back blocks and horse collar tackles, that have all improved the safety of the game. The game continues to flourish.

Here’s a link to the full chat transcript.

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