NFL commissioner Roger Goodell visited Houston to support the "Texans Helping Texans" charitable campaign to raise money for victims of Hurricane Ike and to watch the team's home opener against the Colts.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
"Good morning, I am certainly glad to be here today for this very important day for the city of Houston and for the Texans. We all know the tragedy that took place here and the great effort that has taken place to help rebuild and support this community in a difficult period of time. We the NFL are glad to be here, and I am personally glad to be here on behalf of them to represent our support for this community. One of the first calls I had was from Bob (McNair) talking about what he can do to help this community recover from the hurricane. We would like to participate in that and support those efforts. It's a great privilege to be a part of that but more importantly to support (Owner) Bob (McNair) who's a great leader in this community. We know how important the Texans are in this community and to be able to be a part of that, we're thrilled by. We're also happy to be a part of President Clinton and President Bush's effort. As many of you know, in addition to our financial support today, we are also going to be running a public service announcement on all of our 1 o'clock games. All of our broadcast partners will participate in that. We'll be alerting various media, to bring awareness to the need of this community, throughout the country today. We hope that will have a positive influence on this community because we are very supportive of the people here and what they do for this great community."
(on his first visit to a Houston Texans game) "I believe that is correct, yes. First for a game, I've been to Houston since I was Commissioner."
(on if he toured the city) "No, I didn't get the official tour. I had one additional appointment this morning. I had to meet with Bud Adams this morning so I had a look around the community between the airport and Bud Adams' house and the stadium. I mentioned to (Texans owner) Bob (McNair) as soon as he called me about supporting the effort here, I felt it appropriate for me to come down here and be a part of this because it is an important for the Texans, an important day for the NFL and clearly an important day for the city of Houston. This gives us a national opportunity to talk about how Houston is doing after the hurricane and bring awareness to this community."
(on what Houston needs to do to get another Superbowl) "Houston puts together a very strong bid this past spring and I think there is great recognition of the Superbowl they held here and I think it was a terrific experience for the NFL. Unfortunately, they went up some pretty strong competition in those circumstances. I'm optimistic that the Superbowl will be back here in Houston, and that it will happen some point in the near future."
(on the 80-man limit) "We think actually the 80 man roster, as a part of our collective bargaining agreement, it's something, and we've been under that rule for several years. When we discontinued NFL Europe, we had roster exemptions as part of that, which allowed the rosters to go up to I believe 87 in certain cases, depending on how many players are put into it. I don't believe, after talking to the coaches, that there has been any negative impact at all to the quality of the product. That, in fact, the coaches said to me when you adjust it to 80 that it has worked very well. I don't see any need. We will look at that every year as we do. We also look at practice squads. But as you also know, we are getting ready for a collective bargaining sessions. As that negotiation takes place those will certainly be points that will be discussed."
(on possible changing the ratio of preseason to season games) "I think it's highly unlikely that would take place. In addition to our own internal analysis about making a decision on whether this is in our best interest and in our fans' best interest and help us continue to grow the game, we have to negotiate with all of our broadcast partners and with the players association. I think to get that done all on time and to also make a schedule, which would have to be done in the January period; I just don't think it's practical."
(on the new management of the Oakland Raiders) "I don't know. As to my knowledge, as of Saturday, the agreements have not been submitted. Just based on what I've read and what I've heard from last week I expect something will come to my desk at some point in the future. When it does, I will certainly deal with it."
(on another Superbowl in Houston) "I think the experience we had here in Houston several years ago was a very positive one. I think it was great for the city and I would encourage Houston to continue to do that because I do believe they will get another Superbowl at some point in the future."
(on his concerns about player safety) "I wouldn't describe as a crack down. Player safety has always been a major concern to us. We had seen some hits that we thought were clearly not within the rules. We thought it demonstrated the types of things we want to remove from the game and our competition committee is focused on. I determined several weeks ago that we should do something unusual and that unusual was to send a note to every player every coach in the league that was read at the team meeting. It was probably read right here in this room. It was something I thought our clubs, our coaches, and our players should all refocus that this is a tough game to play but we need to do it within the rules and we need to do it with every bit of focus on ensuring player's safety. And I think the message is getting through. Obviously there will be times when plays will happen outside those rules and we will deal with them very forcefully when they do."
(on his reaction to Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis' press conference) "Well, no one likes to see a dispute like that happen. I think Mr. Davis made it very clear that he didn't like it. I think it's something that's unfortunate. You don't want to see it happen, but it is a reality of our business and they've moved on now. If I'm involved in some fashion or asked to be involved or required to be involved, I will obviously fulfill my responsibility. I don't think there is anymore to say but how unfortunate the situation is."
(on his opinion on player behavior off the field policy) "When we implemented the policy, I made the statement that this is something that is not going to get resolved over night. This is a long term effort. We needed to change behavior, we needed to get a better understanding on what was required and the standard set by the NFL and we also needed to provide additional resources and education to our players and our coaches and everyone involved in the NFL on not only what's acceptable but what resource is available to them to help them make better decisions. And I think we've had significant progress in that. I think all of us understand the privilege it is to be a part of the NFL, whether you're the Commissioner, whether you're a player or whether you're involved in another form. I think that is getting through and I think that we have made progress but it is a continuing point of emphasis for us."
(on the possibility of Houston and Dallas playing internationally again) "Both teams have a tremendous fan following internationally. Mexico is a clear and obvious alternative because there is a tremendous Hispanic population in both of those markets but also because of their geographical location in Mexico. We continue to look at how we could have a regular season game in Mexico. We do not rule out preseason games but our focus has really been bringing a regular season live football to some of these keys markets. But I would think they will continue to be attractive. I don't know about whether they would play each other but I expect that they will play."
(on the current financial crisis and how it affects the NFL) "We are not immune. We've been talking about what I consider the economic downturn for well over a year and making sure we are prepared for it to be planning for it. It effects not only the NFL, our clubs, our owners, and stadium financing, but our business partners. More importantly it affects our consumers, our fans and so we are very sensitive to it. We are trying to plan appropriately for it. It's an ongoing basis for us to make sure we're properly positioned. I don't know of any business or any financial institution that's not going through the same types of analysis, the same type of evaluation of what we can do to better prepare ourselves in the current economic climate. We are not immune to it.
(on if it well affect collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations) "Absolutely, I think anytime you are dealing in the kind of economic environment we have, you're increasing the risk to run your business and that's part of the issue here. The owners are taking on significant risks running these businesses. The players get 60 percent of the gross revenues without a tremendous recognition toward the cost of operating much less the risk. At the core, that is exactly what the issue is and why the owners decided to make and terminate the agreement."
(on his meeting with Bud Adams) "I hadn't seen Bud (Adams) in a couple months and whenever I'm in the area I try to stop by and sit with the owners to get their perspective on a one-on-one."
Texans owner Bob McNair
(on "Texans Helping Texans" Campaign) "We are at $2.45 million in our "Texans Helping Texans" campaign for casualties suffered during Hurricane Ike. We appreciate the tremendous support we have had throughout the community and the Texans are very pleased to be able to give back to the community. They give so much to us. We appreciate it very much, we appreciate you being here and we look forward to a good game today."