|ESPN.com: NFL Playoffs 2012||[Print without images]|
“Goodell also said the league is at work on establishing higher standards for playing surfaces -- likely a reaction to the terrible condition of the Washington Redskins' FedEx Field in the wild-card playoff game Jan. 6 against the Seattle Seahawks. "I believe the changes we're making to our game are making football safer and making it better," Goodell said. Other topics included: • Goodell said the No. 1 issue in the game is taking the head out of tackles. He said players are using their heads more than in the past, perhaps because better helmets and face masks lead them to take more risks. Goodell said progress has been made in the past couple of years in eliminating helmet-to-helmet hits, but that players need to get back to using shoulders and arms properly in tackles. In his words, there is a strike zone in football, and coaches and players need to recognize it. • Goodell says his biggest regret about the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal is that he can't get everyone to recognize bounties need to be eliminated from the game. Goodell said he hasn't been able to make the point clearly enough with the players' union and others that the league will not tolerate pay for hard hits. He said the league, coaches, executives and players all share the responsibility for eliminating bounties from football, and vowed to be "incredibly relentless" about pushing the point moving forward. • Goodell made light of the reception he's gotten in New Orleans, where he is unpopular with Saints fans because of the bounty scandal. Goodell joked that his picture is in every restaurant, he has a float in the Mardi Gras parade and there's even a voodoo doll. In a more serious vein, he said that while he gets comments from fans around town, everyone in New Orleans has been receptive and that the city is a great place to have a Super Bowl. He said he welcomed the passion of fans supporting the team and that they were a big part of the game. • Goodell said he wants a "new generation" of the Rooney Rule because "we didn't have the outcomes we wanted" when none of 15 recent coach and general manager jobs were given to a minority candidate. • Goodell said next season's two games in London already are sold out. Information from ESPN.com's Dan Graziano and The Associated Press was used in this report.
Suspensions get through to the players. We have seen an escalation in the discipline because we are trying to take these techniques out of the game. I stand by our record, because I think we have made those changes and have made the game safer.” -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell