RG: Right now that's the way the system is until we can get a collective bargaining agreement that makes sense for both the players and the owners. That could be the circumstance, yes.
Q: Do you anticipate ever expanding the roster limit above the 80-player limit?
RG: We look at that every year. That's something we evaluate on a regular basis. So far, I have not heard negative consequences to the 80-person roster, but that's something we'll evaluate at the end of the year and make a determination. Too little? Too much? We'll make a determination from there. I have not heard of any tremendous consequences from that to date.
Q: What about the possibility of shortening the preseason or adding regular season games?
RG: Right now we work on a 20-game season: four preseason games and 16 regular-season games. I've been quite clear publicly and with our membership that I think the quality of the preseason is not up to NFL standards and that we should address that. We're actively evaluating and considering whether we should make it 17 regular-season and three preseason games, as one example. I think it's a better reflection on the quality of our game.
Q: What about an 18-and-two scenario?
RG: It could be considered. There are a lot of ramifications that come when you switch that ratio. You do it cautiously and see what those ramifications are. So I would probably start at 17-3. I wouldn't personally rule out 18-2 because that is a membership decision ultimately. There are some who believe 18-2 is the right scenario.
Q: When talking about these scenarios, do you worry at all about the post-Labor Day start to the season, or the Super Bowl running deeper into February?
RG: I think we actually find a longer season to be attractive. Having football start after Labor Day is a positive. I think that's when it really gets into high gear. I think that is positive for us. We've actually made accommodations with our Super Bowl dates that we can move them later in the year. I think that is something that is attractive to us. We've talked about concepts that if you shorten the preseason, maybe you take two weeks between the final preseason game and first regular-season game. I think we do like the idea of two weeks between the championship games and Super Bowl. We'd try to maintain that.
Q: What other issues do you foresee coming up?
RG: We always start with how we can keep the game strong. That goes along with the preseason versus regular season discussion. We need to make sure we keep putting the best product on the field, making sure the quality of our game remains strong and continues to get stronger and more attractive for our fans. That's the No. 1 issue.
The second issue is that we have a labor agreement that works for the players and the ownership, that we have an economic system that internally allows every team to be successful, and that includes revenue sharing.
And the final issue is, how do we continue to evolve in the current media landscape? It's a changing media landscape as all of you know. We are evaluating that, figuring out how we can continue to be successful on a broadcast basis, but there are new media alternatives that we want to be involved in that we think can supplement that broadcast audience. We're spending an awful lot of time on that. The NFL Network is an important part of that strategy as well as NFL.com. We need to deliver that content over telephones and other devices that people are consuming media on now.
Q: Do you envision more games being played overseas in Europe and beyond?
RG: We're going to continue to follow success. So far the international regular-season games have been a tremendous success. I think we're limited on the number of games we can play overseas because we are taking those away from fans here in the United States, and we're sensitive to that. That also may be one other attractive aspect to increasing the number of regular-season games. That could allow you to take additional games overseas. We are getting a tremendous reaction, and it's a great way to grow the game. We think that is intelligent for the players and the NFL.
Q: Does the league have any interest or ideas in how to evolve the Hall of Fame selection process?
RG: As you know, that's an issue the media makes a selection on. We don't. I was at the Hall of Fame all day yesterday and at a board meeting that issue did come up. The members of the Hall of Fame raised it and also at the board level we raised it, and we're going to try to address that in a way that is responsible. Should we be seeking a broader input? We will, but there's no answer to that right now and hopefully we'll do some analysis on it.
One of the things that makes the Hall great though is that it is the elite of the elite. You always have players that you think belong in the Hall, but that is one of the things that makes it so unique. When you become a member of that club, you have truly risen to a level that other players don't rise to. That's a great reflection of what they do both on and off of the field. They are men to be proud of. These men have contributed an awful lot to the game and it is one of the reasons we did the rookie program this year.
If you're not familiar with that, every club has had their rookies go through the Hall of Fame this spring. The idea was two-fold. One, provide inspiration, which was obvious. This is what and where you should aspire to be at the end of your playing career. The second was to give them perspective, perspective about the men who came before them, coaches, players and owners that made this game great. Michael Irvin was the one who gave me that idea last year. He said, "If I had seen the tradition, the history of what made this game great when I came into the league, it would've had a huge impact on me."
I think this program is going to be quite successful because it is giving those players perspective. I'm going to be with the rookies of the Redskins over there this afternoon. I'll be able to get a first-hand look at their reaction, the questions they ask and what effect it has on them. We may not be able to judge this for several years, frankly.
RE: The 15-day rule of reporting to training camp before your first preseason game.
RG: It definitely can get looked at. It is an issue that is in part collectively bargained, and there are competitive issues, internal issues from an NFL standpoint. The whole evaluation of the preseason, but also the offseason, is something we want to go through. Have we been overly aggressive in the offseason of what we ask of the players? That is something we have to balance and that is one of the questions I asked the players today.
Q: Is it worth conducting a study of player injuries?
RG: Sure, but the reality is that there are so many factors that go into NFL injuries. To be able to isolate that it is because of offseason training; in fact, I might be able to argue that offseason training allowing them to be in better shape is a plus. Obviously there are diminishing returns at some point in time. You can overdo that also. I think the balance is what we try to find and, quite frankly, I'm not sure there is an answer across the board. We have great professionals on the club level that make those decisions, medical personnel, trainers, coaches, they all have to balance those issues. We do look very closely at injuries, but as I said many factors go into that.
Training camp has changed a lot. We are obviously much more aware of certain things. We do everything we can to make sure it is a safe environment.
Q: Do teams need more preseason game to get ready?
RG: No, it is my opinion that they need fewer.
Q: Has taking the role of commissioner been different than you thought it might be?
RG: Sure. Any time you go into a new job there are going to be challenges. I can't tell you that I've expected all of the challenges that I've had, and I've been in the league for 25 years. I thought I had seen most everything, but there were some things that have been different. I sat in the office next to Paul Tagliabue for the last six years and there is a difference when you're commissioner. You have an awesome responsibility to the game. That is something you feel every day, and you feel it every night. You wake up at night and you think about it. It is an awesome responsibility and I take it seriously.
Q: Why were you involved in the Brett Favre situation in Green Bay?
RG: There are rights here that have to be respected. Obviously the rights of the Green Bay Packers, they hold the rights to Brett Favre and that has to be respected. At the same time, Brett Favre has rights. If he would like to play football again, he should have the right to do that. You need to balance those two. Then, you have 31 other clubs that have an interest or rights here. You have to balance all of these issues. I'm not trying to interject myself; in fact, I was interjected into it because there was a tampering charge initially. I'm not looking for things to interject myself into. It is obviously an issue that needs to be addressed. Because of the competing interests you want to make sure it is done properly and within our rules, but this is an issue ultimately that has to be decided between Brett and the Packers.
Q: What is the latest you have heard on any potential resolution between the two parties?
RG: They have had productive discussions. I had brief conversations with both sides this morning and I expect to have them again when I leave here.
Q: Do you have the reinstatement papers on you just in case?
RG: No. I can do that from the road.
Q: Did the league find there to be illicit communications between Brett and the Vikings and if so, will there be a penalty?
RG: No, we have not made any ruling with respect to the Packers and the Vikings tampering charges. That is something we are completing our investigation on. I assume we will be done relatively quickly here. We want to be thorough but I would expect we'll have a decision sometime soon. Greg would know better than I about any comments we've made publicly but I don't believe we have made any public comments about any findings at this stage.
It is a serious issue. Tampering is a serious charge, and as you pointed out we had a violation of that rule earlier this year, and we take it seriously. If it can be proven, we will act on it. We've made it very clear to the clubs this spring. In fact we've had, as some would call it, to some extent a lowering of the standard as it relates to proof of a tampering charge.