NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed a number of league controversies in a pre-Super Bowl speech on Wednesday. The issues ranged from on-field disputes such as the definition of a catch to off-field questions, regarding Colin Kaepernick’s failure to find a contract after protesting the national anthem.
Commissioner Goodell addressed the catch rule in response to the first question asked of him during the press conference. “I think a lot of the focus during the offseason for us is going to be on the rule book,” Goodell said, noting that considerable time had already been devoted to evaluating a rule that has been shown to be increasingly ambiguous during the regular season. Goodell acknowledged the need to revisit the rule after several questionable calls this season, like during a game between the New England Patriots and the Pittsburg Steelers in December, when a potentially game-winning Steelers touchdown catch was overruled, leading to a New England victory.
Late in the press conference Goodell was asked about former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has not played in the league this season after refusing to stand during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in the United States. When asked about his own ability to encourage teams to hire Kaepernick, Goodell deflected, only saying that the rosters were up to the individual teams and coaches. He refused to comment further on the issue and moved on to other questions, saying that the issue belonged to individual teams and not the league as a whole. In 2017, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL, claiming that NFL team owners worked together to prevent him from signing a contract and thereby preventing him from playing.
Goodell also addressed the lack of diversity in NFL management. One reporter pointed out that the NFL only has three African American general managers. Goodell highlighted the league’s requirement that teams interview and consider minority candidates for coaching positions, known as the Rooney Rule, and stressed the need for the inclusion of more minority coaches in the NFL.
Other issues mentioned during the press conference included the use of video replay during games, comments by former player Brett Farve about player safety, and Goodell’s recent contract extension. The conference came days before Super Bowl LII between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, which closed out the 2017-18 NFL season.