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Roger Goodell discusses health, safety issues with NFL Media

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talked with NFL Media reporter Judy Battista on Thursday about many of the current issues affecting the league.

They discussed a number of player health and safety topics, from safety rules to concussions, from the $765 million settlement with retired players over a concussion lawsuit to the implementation of human growth hormone testing.

* Goodell said the league is adamant about enforcing rules that will help the league's safety initiatives.


"The simple answer is no, we took on these initiatives to make the game safer and we're going to continue that, whether it's making sure the rules take those dangerous techniques out of the game or whether it's improvements in equipment or pioneering research," he said "If anything, we'll continue to accelerate as necessary."


Goodell said concerns from players that the emphasis on hits to the head and neck have resulted in low hits that are causing knee injuries -- like the one to Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller in the preseason -- are not new. But he said that when the NFL Competition Committee reviews the consequences of rules changes, it has not seen low hits as an unintended consequence of a crackdown on high hits.


"We really don't want to see either," Goodell said. "There's a large target area to hit in, between the thighs and the shoulders and chest area. But it's a fast game. You're going to have times when someone is going to have it, that's why we have penalties, that's why we have a discipline process. It will happen. You try to limit that. Fortunately, it is limited.


* Goodell said all indications are that the Oakland Raiders properly handled Terrelle Pryor's Monday night concussion, a situation that is being probed by the NFL Players Association. Goodell said Pryor's head injury was spotted by the athletic trainer assigned to the press box.


Pryor showed no symptoms immediately after the hit and briefly continued to play before he was tested for a concussion.


"You obviously want to have him evaluated as soon as possible," Goodell said. "But again, he showed no symptoms, he jumped right up. The reason we were able to detect it was we saw the impact of the hits. That means the system worked. Would I like to see it happen faster? Yes."


* Goodell said the $765 million concussion lawsuit settlement was good for the retired players and their families.


"We now have a fund that is there for players and their families if they are having any issues. We also are going to baseline those players. If they develop neurocognitive issues, there will be a fund there for them."


* And Goodell said he will not compromise his authority for the implementation of HGH testing, a condition the union has said is holding up the deal.


But he said the league and players' union also have not agreed to the number of games a player would be suspended for a second violation under the performance-enhancing drug policy. The league had wanted a 10-game suspension, but agreed to come down to eight games as part of negotiations. But Goodell said the union never agreed to the league's terms for the eight-game suspension, so that issue remains outstanding.


-- Bill Bradley, contributing editor

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