Goodell Q&A - Part I

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did a Q & A session with reporters at Cincinnati Bengals training camp. Goodell discussed rookie salaries, the player conduct policy, shortening the preseason/extending the regular season, roster sizes, the CBA, and Brett Favre.

Q: In terms of your own job responsibilities, how challenging is the player conduct aspect? How do you go about evaluating each case?


RG: It is complex because you want to look at each case individually, but you also want to be consistent. This is one of the questions the players asked me today. You have to look at all the incidents, but what we are really focused on is repeat behavior. When you have repeat behavior and circumstances around that, eventually the player has to be accountable and responsible for that. If a player is on the edge of things, he's got to change his behavior. That's the reality of being in this business. It's what comes with being an NFL player. It comes with being involved in the NFL, and it's what I think our fans expect. They have a right to expect it. I think the players understand that.


With the CBA issues the league is facing, is there still an opportunity to address a rookie pay scale?


RG: It has to be collectively bargained. It's an issue that we will clearly be addressing. Whether we come to an agreement on that could be subject to the broader agreement. I think it's clear that we have an issue here. Something is wrong with the system, flawed with the system, and we have to address it. I think it's better for the players. I think it's better for the teams. Most importantly, it's better for the fans. I think it's a disservice when players are not in camp and being paid properly.


What's been your reaction from the players on this issue?


RG: Every player has a different opinion. I think the players recognize the system is flawed and needs to be adjusted. I think their interest is to be paid properly. They'd like to see that if money is going to be saved by not paying rookies as much that it would go to other players. I respect that, and I understand that. That's something that we are certainly willing to talk about. My issue is that it's having economic consequences, and this is affecting all players in the league, I think, in a negative fashion.


It also has some non-economic issues as it relates to how the locker room operates. Veteran leadership probably suffers when you have rookies being paid more than veterans. They feel more uncomfortable about asserting their leadership than I think they should in a locker room. So there are some non-economic issues, too.


Q: In regards to the conduct policy, are there specific rules or guidelines regarding the reinstatement process for a suspended player?


RG: There is. The personal conduct policy is quite specific on what the policy covers and what the consequences are. Ultimately, it's my decision after a process of hearings. When I issue the discipline, I'm usually quite clear about what the reinstatement process is, assuming that certain things are managed the way we would expect them to be managed and consistent with the standard we hold NFL players to.


Q: So when a player is suspended, you give him the specific guidelines of what he needs to do to be reinstated?


RG: Yes.


Q: You say a lot of that is on the players, but also on the teams. Where are you at in terms of disciplining teams with multiple offenders (taking away a draft pick, etc.)?


RG: As of yesterday, any time a player is suspended, there is a financial consequence to that team. So they are working hard to avoid those issues. They are providing the resources and the counseling to hopefully allow players to make good decisions. But at some point in time, if you have a suspension, there is a financial consequence to that team.


Q: Can you say specifically what that consequence will be?


RG: It depends on the length of the suspension and how much that individual is being paid. It's a portion of that individual's compensation while he is suspended. It also depends on how many players have had incidents and the types of things the clubs do to support players on a regular basis.


Q: Are loss of draft picks also a possibility?


RG: It's a possibility, but that will not be the first consequence, or probably even the second or third.

Jags Illustrated Top Stories