Roger Goodell looks to move NFL past 'tough year'


Roger Goodell looks to move NFL past 'tough year'

PHOENIX -- As if wishing made it so, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell described his league -- and himself -- as having addressed missteps on difficult matters such as domestic violence and being ready to move on.

"As an organization, and as an individual, it's been a tough year," Goodell said Friday during his pre-Super Bowl news conference, "but a year of great progress, and I'm excited about the future."

Nearing the end of a season he acknowledged was filled with "plenty of challenges," Goodell was asked whether he thought he deserved a pay cut -- "That's up to the owners," he replied -- and whether he could envision resigning or being fired.

"No, I can't. Does that surprise you?" Goodell said. "We've all done a lot of soul-searching, beginning with yours truly. And we have taken action."

Goodell brushed aside a question about whether there are conflict-of-interest problems with paying those who head up "independent" investigations, such as into the league's handling of the Ray Rice case or the ongoing look at the New England Patriots' use of deflated footballs in the AFC title game.

"We have had people who have had uncompromising integrity" run those inquiries, Goodell said. Then, speaking directly to the reporter, he added: "Somebody has to pay them ... unless you're volunteering, which I don't think you are."

Rice is the former Baltimore Ravens running back who punched his now-wife in an elevator, drawing an initial suspension from Goodell of two games. Goodell changed that to an indefinite ban after video from inside the elevator was posted by TMZ. Rice later appealed, and an arbitrator reinstated him.

That and other domestic violence cases led the league to design a new personal conduct policy, which was approved unanimously by owners but has been criticized by the players' union.

"We've made enormous progress," Goodell said Friday. "We're in a good place."

On the main topic of conversation heading into Super Bowl week -- the deflated footballs used by the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game -- Goodell said: "Whether a competitive advantage was actually gained or not is secondary in my mind to whether that rule was violated."

A resolution will not come until after the Super Bowl.

"We don't know enough in this investigation to know who was responsible or whether there was even an infraction," Goodell said.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft has said he expects the investigation to determine his team did nothing wrong -- and he expects an apology from the NFL. Kraft did not attend Friday's news conference.

Another issue that won't be resolved until after the season's final game, Goodell said, is whether Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch will be fined for refusing to answer any questions at required media sessions this week. The NFL docked Lynch $100,000 earlier this season for not talking to reporters.

"I understand it may not be on the top of his list," Goodell said, "but everyone else is cooperating, everyone else is doing their part."

On other topics, Goodell said:

-- Any club's move to Los Angeles, without an NFL team for 20 years, would have to be approved by owners, and "there have been no determinations of us going to Los Angeles, any particular team going to Los Angeles or going to any particular stadium." The St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers have been viewed as the teams most likely to try to head to L.A. Goodell also noted that San Diego needs a new stadium, as does Buffalo.

-- The league will take a look at possibly expanding instant replay reviews to include whether a penalty was committed and consider rotating officiating crews during the regular season. Crews currently work together all season long.

-- Adding more playoff teams is also on the table, but there are concerns, including "the risk of diluting our regular season and conflicting with college football in January."

-- The league is hiring a chief medical officer to oversee health-related policies.

Eagles Inactives: Bennie Logan (groin) out vs. Vikings

Eagles Inactives: Bennie Logan (groin) out vs. Vikings

Eagles defensive tackle Bennie Logan (groin) is inactive for the team’s game against the Vikings at the Linc on Sunday afternoon.

Logan missed practice all week but was listed as questionable and was said to be a game-time decision. Beau Allen will start in his place, but the Eagles will likely use more Allen, Fletcher Cox, Destiny Vaeao and Vinny Curry at tackle.

While Logan is inactive, Ron Brooks (calf), Leodis McKelvin (hamstring) and Mychal Kendricks (ribs) are all active. The trio was listed as questionable coming into the weekend.

Joining Logan among the inactive players are: OL Dillon Gordon, OL Josh Andrews, OL Isaac Seumalo, CB C.J. Smith, S Terrence Brooks and WR Bryce Treggs.

Despite Tregg’s getting extended reps this week in practice, he’s still not playing.

For the Vikings, wideout Stefon Diggs (groin), who was listed as questionable, is active.

Vikings inactives: WR Laquon Treadwell, WR Jarius Wright, LB Kentrell Brothers, C Nick Easton, G Willie Beavers, DT Sharrif Floyd, TE MyCole Pruitt.

Eagles-Vikings: 5 matchups to watch

Eagles-Vikings: 5 matchups to watch

The Eagles (3-2) have an extremely tough game against Sam Bradford and the Vikings (5-0) on Sunday at the Linc.

The Vikings come out of their bye week as the NFL's only undefeated team, while the Eagles have lost to Detroit and Washington following their bye.

Here are five matchups to watch:

Sam Bradford vs. Eagles' defense
The big storyline all week has been the return of Sam Bradford to Philadelphia, where he spent the 2015 season and most of the 2016 offseason.

How much will familiarity play a role on Sunday?

Bradford clearly knows the Eagles' defensive personnel and scheme, having played against the defense throughout training camp. But on the flip side, the defense knows all of Bradford's tendencies. We dove into this in depth earlier in the week (see story).

What has made Bradford so good through his first four games with the Vikings (he didn't play in the opener) has been the way he's protected the football. He hasn't thrown an interception yet and the Vikings' offense hasn't yet turned the football over.

Stefon Diggs vs. Leodis McKelvin
Diggs might be a little banged up, but as long as he's on the field, the Eagles will need to keep an eye on him. Diggs is an absolute burner, so it's a good thing the Eagles will likely have their fastest corner, McKelvin back this week.

But McKelvin is coming off a hamstring injury that has bothered him since early in the season, so we'll need to see if he can make it through this game. If he can't, rookie Jalen Mills will get in the game. Without blazing speed, Mills had trouble containing DeSean Jackson last week.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai vs. Danielle Hunter/Brian Robinson
Big V's NFL debut wasn't a good one. He gave up five quarterback hurries and two sacks against Washington. This week, he'll have to deal with Robinson and Hunter on that right side of the offensive line.

Robinson and Hunter are each tied for the Vikings' lead with four sacks this season. They're likely salivating at the idea of seeing Vaitai on Sunday.

Kyle Rudolph vs. Malcolm Jenkins
While Diggs has been the Vikings' leading receiver, Rudolph is a dangerous component to the team's passing attack. Through five games, Rudolph has 21 catches for 236 yards and three touchdowns.

It will be a team effort to stop him Sunday. At times, he'll be covered with a linebacker and at times a safety. We'll list Jenkins here because he gave up a touchdown to 32-year-old Vernon Davis last week.

Vikings' run game vs. Eagles' run defense
The Vikings have the worst run game in the NFL. They've average a league-low 2.45 yards per attempt. They’re the first team since the 2010 Broncos to have a rushing average of 2.5 or worse through five games. And they’re just the 11th team since 1940 to do it.

But the Vikings are going to try to run the ball against the Eagles. Why wouldn't they?

The Eagles were absolutely gashed for 230 yards by Washington. They had 10 missed tackles and gave up 156 yards after contact. Something's gotta give here.