NFL Commissioner Talks Before 2012 Super Bowl XLVI

The NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, spoke with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic on ESPN's Mike and Mike In the Morning, today. During his time on the air, Goodell hit on the rule changes to protect players, football in Los Angeles, and rules for head injuries.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Goodell was considering moving toward NFL expansion to get a team back into LA. However, the commissioner had simply been saying, if the NFL does go the expansion route to add a team in LA, it wouldn't just add one team, but would go to a total of 34 teams to make sure they had an even number of teams.

When asked about that today, Goodell stated, "The number one thing we've got to get done is get a stadium built, that's going to provide that foundation for the team to be successful in that market place. It's the struggle we've had for, going on three decades. And we're going to have to find the right solution for that. Until we do, then you have to start dealing with how do you deal with the team. What team is it? Is it an expansion team? And that's the part that was misinterpreted. We haven't even got to that point yet. We aren't even focusing on the team.

"We'd like to be back there, but we've got to do it right, Mike. You don't go back there and fail; that could be, that's the worst thing we could do."

Maybe one of the biggest stories to come out of the discussion, however, is Goodell's discussion of the Pro Bowl. Last week, the NFL held its annual All-Star game, and fans reacted to a lackluster performance from the game's top players. There were boos from the fans in the stands, former players railed against the game on TV, and even, now, the commissioner.

"I really didn't think that was the kind of football that we want to be demonstrating for our fans," Goodell said. "And you heard it from the fans. The fans were actively booing in the stands. They didn't like what they were seeing. That's not the kind of football.

"We're either going to have to improve the quality of what we're doing in the Pro Bowl or consider other changes or even consider eliminating the game if that's the kind of quality game we're going to provide."

When asked about how involved in the process the commissioner's office would be in the changes, and what role the NFL Players' Association would have in the changes, Goodell explained that he talked to DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, on Friday about ways to change the game.

"I know players love to be in Hawaii but we have to start with the quality of what we're doing," Goodell explained. "And, if the quality of what we're doing, and if the fans are responding negatively to what we're doing, we'd better listen. And that was my message."

As the offseason continues, it will be interesting to see if the league actually does make changes to the Pro Bowl - and what those changes are. Will the game go away, with a skills competition instead? Will it stay in Hawaii if there's not a full game associated with it? Will players simply be named "All-Stars" and recognized at the new NFL Honors award show?

And, how long until the talk on a Los Angeles team becomes action? Will the pressure start to mount on the city to get a stadium built (the city agreed to build a new stadium in August 2011 nears the Staples Center, expected to be complete in 2016 - assuming the building actually begins) so the NFL can get a team into the nation's second largest TV market for the first time since 1994? Both the Raiders and Rams played their final games in LA on Christmas Eve of that year, moving to Oakland and St. Louis, respectively, for the 1995 season.

It could be an interesting offseason for the NFL on the administration side of the game.

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