Roger Goodell looks to move NFL past 'tough year'

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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 storylines at the 2017 owners meetings in Phoenix

Eagles storylines at the 2017 owners meetings in Phoenix

PHOENIX -- After a cold couple of weeks in Philly, Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles' brass will get a chance to catch some rays this week. 

Lurie and the rest of the NFL's owners and decision-makers will meet this week at the lavish Arizona Biltmore resort. 

In addition to the actual meetings of the owners, the league's competition committee will look at 15 rule proposals, one of which was proposed and will be presented by the Eagles. Lurie is expected to speak to reporters for the first time in a year. 

And, of course, the annual coaches breakfasts will take place extremely early on Tuesday and Wednesday. The AFC goes on Tuesday, while Doug Pederson and the NFC coaches will field questions from reporters on Wednesday. 

It'll be a busy few days with the beauty of Phoenix as the backdrop. 

Here are a few of the big Eagles storylines to keep an eye on.

Long time, no talk 
Reporters haven't had a chance to talk to Lurie since this week last year. A lot has happened since then. Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz went through their first seasons as coach and quarterback for the Eagles. Joe Douglas was hired as the team's vice president of player personnel. And Howie Roseman has continued to transform the roster through trades and free agency.

Last season was the first time Lurie spoke since reinstating Roseman to power, so despite Lurie's efforts to talk about RFID and next-generation stats, the conversation focused on the direction and leadership of the team. 

There's a ton to talk to Lurie about this year -- including his recently-penned piece in Time Magazine that railed against political polarization in Washington (see story).  

An hour with Doug 
This year, Philly reporters will actually be able to talk to Pederson at the NFC coaches breakfast on Wednesday. In 2016, most split their time between Chip Kelly and Pederson. 

At that point, Kelly was the 49ers' coach and had not yet talked about his split with the Eagles. 

But a whole hour with Pederson is on the schedule this year. Plenty of questions about the future of the franchise, the draft and the free-agent acquisitions. We haven't spoken to Pederson since the combine, which came before the team brought in Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Chance Warmack in free agency. 

Whatchu talkin' bout, Howie? 
Roseman talked a bunch last season as the 2016 NFL draft drew closer, but this offseason revealed that everything he said back then was nonsense. Last offseason was all about moving up to the No. 2 pick (at least) to draft Wentz and get the Eagles a franchise quarterback. 

One of the interesting things Roseman talked about in 2016 was taking running backs high in the draft. He praised Ezekiel Elliott, calling him a "rare" prospect. 

At that point, the Eagles were picking eighth and Elliott was thought to be a possible target for them. Here's what Roseman said last year: 

"You talk about the elite guys and where they're coming from, and they're hard to find. It's hard to find three-down backs, so when you get a chance to look at someone like that, it changes the discussion. They're certainly on your board."

The running backs in this year's draft aren't Elliott -- they're simply not as good at everything and not ready to step in and be stars. But by the way Roseman spoke last year, he didn't rule out taking a running back in the first round. This year, there will likely be a couple good ones on the board at No. 14. 

But remember, everything he said last year was just nonsense. 

For now, Roseman isn't scheduled to speak to reporters, but that could change. 

The rule proposals
The competition committee will meet this week to go over several proposals -- among them are 15 playing rule proposals. 

The Eagles originally proposed four playing rule changes and one proposal that would have allowed teams to wear alternate helmets to match alternate jerseys. Well, after feedback from the competition committee, the Eagles are withdrawing all but one proposal, according to league sources. 

The only proposal left would rule out leaping on kick plays. For now, players are allowed to leap as long as they don't touch anyone on the way over. This change had already been suggested by the NFLPA, so it seems like it has a good shot to pass. 

Among the other rules the NFL's competition committee will consider is one that would shorten the overtime period in the regular season from 15 to 10 minutes. The length would remain 15 minutes in the playoffs. 

The competition committee will meet to go over these proposals on Tuesday. 

NFL Notes: Raiders to Las Vegas should happen Monday with little delay

NFL Notes: Raiders to Las Vegas should happen Monday with little delay

PHOENIX -- Barring an unforeseen obstacle, the Oakland Raiders seem certain to get approval Monday to relocate to Las Vegas .

Several team owners have said this week they don't envision a scenario where Raiders owner Mark Davis doesn't get the required 24 votes to move the team.

One owner, speaking anonymously because he is not authorized to speak for the NFL, told The Associated Press: "Not only have no hurdles been made clear to us, but there isn't any opposition to it."

Added another, also speaking anonymously for the same reasons: "It's going to happen and the sooner we do it, the better it is for the league and for the Raiders."

Yes, the NFL is about to have a third franchise move in just over a year. The Rams played last season in Los Angeles after switching from St. Louis. Earlier this year, the Chargers moved from San Diego to L.A.

NFL: League hires Dr. Allen Sills as chief medical officer
PHOENIX -- The NFL has hired Dr. Allen Sills as its chief medical officer.

Sills, a neurosurgeon who has specialized in the treatment of athletes, will fill a new full-time position based in New York. He comes to the league from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he serves as professor of neurological surgery, orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation. He is the founder and co-director of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center.

Sills, 52, will work with NFL team medical staffs, the NFL Players Association and its advisers, as well as experts on the league's medical committees. He will guide the NFL's health and research efforts.

"We sought a highly credentialed physician and leader with experience as a clinician and researcher, and Dr. Sills' extensive experience caring for athletes makes him the right choice for this important position," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.