Roger Goodell on Michael Vick, Expanded Playoffs

Transcript of Commissioner's News Conference to Wrap Owners' Meetings


Selected portions of the transcript from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's annual owners' meeting news conference in Orlando, FL:

On the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl and the effect it may have on future Super Bowls being held in open-air stadiums in cold-weather cities...

We discussed the Super Bowl in the context of what we achieved, the successes that occurred and things that we can do better. We do that every year following the Super Bowl and try to achieve a better event for our fans and for our teams. The overall reaction was positive. People believe that the Super Bowl was a great opportunity to put us on the number-one stage and promote the Super Bowl. There was a positive reaction to it. The only future discussion we had was really the bidding process in May and we already have three cities that are in that process.

On Jets owner Woody Johnson reaching out to the NFL before signing Michael Vick and his thoughts on if Vick is a changed person...

I'll refrain from sharing anything about the conversation, but I'll be happy to talk about the general views toward Michael. Michael is a young man who made a tragic mistake. He paid a very heavy price for it, but I've seen him, in everything he's done, exceed expectations. He has worked very hard to be a positive force in a lot of different areas. That's something I admire about him. When we went through the process of reviewing whether he would come back into the league, he demonstrated that he was somebody who was committed to saying, 'I am going to do this the right way. I am going to be a positive force.' He has, and I'm proud of the work he has done. I think that's the kind of thing we should have.

On potentially expanding the playoffs...

We had a good discussion on it on several fronts. As you know, the Competition Committee has been looking at this for a couple of years. We have discussed it in various committees, including broadcasting. We had a full discussion on the floor with the owners and other executives this week. I think there's a tremendous amount of interest in this, possibly even to the point of support, but there are also things we still want to make sure we do it right. We've been very incremental in trying to do this, but we believe competitively it could make even our races toward the end of our season even more exciting with more teams vying for playoff positions, which is great for our fans.

We still want to do some additional work, including talking with the players' association. We have a scheduled meeting set for April 8. This will be one of the things we'll probably discuss and then we'll also have to talk to broadcast partners and there are some scheduling issues that we still need to work through.

On memories of Bills owner Ralph Wilson...

Yesterday was a sad day for the NFL. For a lot of us in the NFL, he was a special man and someone that — coming from western New York, I know how much he did for the western New York region and I also know what he's done for the NFL having seen it first-hand. As a commissioner, I saw that he's a great owner. He was the kind of guy who was principled. He was strong. He understood when to compromise. He's going to be missed by the NFL and by me, personally. I spoke to Mary last night and I'll be at the funeral. He's someone that deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He has really done incredible things for the league and pro football in general. That's something that will be a great legacy for him.

On the stadium proposal in Miami...

We didn't discuss that here with the full membership. We didn't have a stadium committee meeting. That is something that will have to come to the stadium committee. I did speak to Steve [Ross] last week and I salute him for his commitment to try to bring a first-class stadium to that area. He is committed to it and I think he'll achieve that. It will be great for the area, it will be great for the Dolphins and great for the NFL. I think lots of great events will come there as a result of it.

On the future of the Buffalo Bills...

I haven't focused on that. That's not something I've spent any time on in recent days. My thoughts and my heart are with the Wilson family. We all know they have a lease. We know the terms of that lease and we also know we have to find a long-term solution to keep the Bills there and that's what we will work to do. But that's not the priority right now in the next few days.

On franchises existing in Buffalo and Toronto:

I'm not sure that I've studied that enough to know. I know, being from western New York, they are close from a proximity standpoint and there are fans that come from Toronto and there are fans that go from Buffalo up to Toronto. They have worked very hard in Buffalo, and obviously western New York and southern Ontario, to regionalize that team to attract from a broader area. That is healthy for the team and they have drawn — in large part though that series — more fans from southern Ontario and the Toronto area. Again, that's important and that's something that we want to encourage.

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