NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talks Dolphins bullying scandal, new stadium

Allison Joyce

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke to the press today as a part of the NFL's owners meeting in Orlando. During the media availability, he was asked about the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal, and the team's efforts for stadium renovations.

Throughout the NFL's Owners Meetings each year, coaches, general managers, and owners of the teams often speak to the media, giving the press a chance to find out their thoughts on the latest signings and news surrounding each club. The meetings also provide a media availability for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who spok this morning on several topics, including the passing of Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, the possibility of expanding the playoffs, and the future of the name of the Washington Redskins.

He was also asked several questions about the Miami Dolphins, the bullying scandal that surrounded the team for the second half of last season, and the team's new push for stadium renovations.

Over the past few days, various reports have said the three players, guard Richie Incognito, center Mike Pouncey, and guard John Jerry, identified as sources of the "patterns of harassment" directed toward former Miami tackle Jonathan Martin, would have to undergo psychological evaluation before being allowed to play this season. "I’m not a medical professional," Goodell responded when asked about the details of the review, and how the players would be cleared. "I’m not one that would dictate that. Those are done by the medical professionals that are joint medical professionals between the players association and the NFL. It’s their decision, the evaluation, and also whatever recommendations they might make."

Goodell continued, saying he was not sure if Martin would also be required to be reviewed.

"We’ve not only thought about it, we’re doing it," Goodell explained of having a larger psychological evaluation process for all NFL players. "We look at the total wellness of an individual -- the physical wellness as well as mental wellness and then we try to give them the resources to try to be able to deal with that. We have definitely made great strides in that. That doesn’t mean we don’t have more work to do. We continue to focus on that."

The league has yet to announce any suspensions for Incognito, Pouncey, or Jerry. Currently, Incognito is still a free agent, while Pouncey remains with the Dolphins, and Jerry signed as a free agent with the New York Giants this offseason. Asked if the decision on any punishment to be directed toward the three players, and if the medical evaluations would have to be completed first, Goodell replied, "The medical evaluations are the priority, yes. From our standpoint, the medical evaluations will determine what happens. There will be no determinations until we have that information."

The discussion turned to the culture of locker rooms around the league, and the workplace conduct of players and coaches. "This is a professional workplace for everybody," Goodell explained. "That’s players, coaches, trainers, equipment men, executives. All of us expect that and it is our job to make sure we deliver that. I think this is going to be a collective effort. You’ve heard some of the coaches. We’ve had several different sessions discussing this with executives, owners and coaches. We are going to talk with our players on April 8 and that’s the focus of the meeting. We’ll talk about what we can do to ensure a professional workplace. I mentioned to you the other day that I met with 40 players from nine different teams over the last three months to discuss this. They want a professional workplace and we owe it to them. We are going to work with them to try to create that.

"This is a professional workplace for everybody. That’s players, coaches, trainers, equipment men, executives. All of us expect that and it is our job to make sure we deliver that. I think this is going to be a collective effort. You’ve heard some of the coaches. We’ve had several different sessions discussing this with executives, owners and coaches. We are going to talk with our players on April 8 and that’s the focus of the meeting. We’ll talk about what we can do to ensure a professional workplace. I mentioned to you the other day that I met with 40 players from nine different teams over the last three months to discuss this. They want a professional workplace and we owe it to them. We are going to work with them to try to create that."

Finally, Goodell was asked about the new proposal Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has advanced to ensure Sun Life Stadium receives the $350 million in renovations in needs to compete for future Super Bowls. Under the plan, Ross would pay for the upgrades, but would turn the stadium over to Miami-Dade County, keeping the cost of operations and maintenance, but no longer paying an estimated $4 million in property tax each year. The Dolphins are the only Florida team to own its home stadium, and, therefore, are the only team required to pay property tax. The team and the county are still working on a full plan to ensure the loss of tax revenue does not damage the surrounding area, including Miami Gardens.

"We didn’t discuss [the stadium plan] 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."

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