Roger Goodell: PI replay is 'what we anticipated'


The state of officiating continued to be a hot topic this week at the Fall League Meeting in Florida with NFL owners.

Following Monday night's controversial ending, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that he remains confident in senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron and the rest of his staff to fix problems that remain.

"Well officiating is always a focus for us," Goodell said. "I joke but I'm not joking, I'm close to 40 years and I think there's always two- or three-week period where there's an intense focus on it. But listen, you never want to see a game where people are talking about officials afterwards. There's a great football game, played by two great football teams that a really surprising a lot of people about the quality of the way they're playing. It's tough. It's tough to be in that situation. So, we have to continue to do everything to improve officiating. Al and his team and Troy [Vincent] and everyone we're all focusing on how do we continue to prepare officials obviously using technology when we can. But that's sports. You see it in every sport."

Questions about officiating have permeated the first six weeks of the 2019 campaign, with complaints stemming from too many holding penalties being called, to replay bogging down the game, to Monday's controversial finish at Lambeau Field.

Throughout all of those issues, questions about the pass interference replay review system have hovered over the season. The new rule has confounded coaches throughout the process, and to most onlookers the bar for Riveron and his crew to overturn calls seems impossibly high.

Goodell said Wednesday that he believes that bar has settled to the expected spot when the rule was passed in the offseason.

"This is something that we spent a great deal of time on as you know back in the February-March period. Something that coaches felt very strongly," the Commissioner said. "I think they understood that replay was not going to correct every instant replay or pass interference close call. We're not over-officiating here, we're not trying to, or possible to make it perfect. And we're not re-officiating these plays. So, the thought process was to correct the obvious and clear error. So, I think the numbers reflect that. If it's something close and there's not obvious and clear evidence, it's going to stay with whatever is called on the field, and I think the data supports that. I think it's what we anticipated, the coaches anticipated. But as you know whenever there is a rule change, there is a period of adaption. And there's also a period of where people are testing to try to see. So coaches are testing to see what types of changes are going to be made, are the officials going to be making changes. And I think it's settling out where we expected it to."

Other topics Commissioner Goodell was asked about at the conclusion of the Fall League Meeting:

On CBA talks:

"I think the discussions have been consistent. We've had very open dialogue. I think we all know the various issues. I think it's been productive. I don't know how to gauge when or how soon. I'm hopeful that we all see the benefits of doing something earlier and then we can get something done. It's still to be determined. ... I think the issues we'll continue to do in the context of the room because that's the respectful way and the most productive way for us."

On potential 17-game season under new CBA:

"Again it is part of the discussions. We've had very fruitful discussions on it discussing the positives and negatives of changes to the game that we've made over the last 10 years, which I think are really important as it relates to the safety of the game and how we're preparing and practicing, training our players and I think those changes have made a significant impact in a positive way. That is something that we'll continue to discuss that may or may not be part of whatever we ultimately decide."

If 17-game schedule were passed, how the season would be adjusted:

"Yes, we would still start the week after Labor Day, so we would have the same starting week but would just play one week longer (in February)."

On potential for NFL to adopt draft lottery format:

"Obviously we're well aware of it. It's been discussed over the years. I can remember that being discussed 20, 30 years ago. I think from our standpoint we find the draft to be successful on many fronts. One, on the competitive side but also the event itself has grown dramatically. So it's not under active consideration. It hasn't been raised by either of the committees or the clubs."

On draft lotteries again, is it a possibility if teams "tanking" becomes an issue:

"Well the good news for us is we don't see that. I don't think the league has ever been more competitive than it is today. You see that in teams going from last to first in dramatic fashion. I think that's unique to the National Football League. I think we've been 16 out of 17 years where that's happened and so for us the competitiveness of our game is obviously critical. I don't think that's solved with a lottery. I think that's solved by all the other issues that we try to deal with on a regular basis through the Competition Committee and the league in trying to make sure our league is competitive."

On Chargers stadium being taken over by opposing teams:

"I think that's a reality of what you see at a lot of stadiums around the league. Secondary ticketing is a big issue now. You have certain teams that travel better than others, fans; Pittsburgh's notorious for that, by the way. And, so, you see that on a regular basis in markets. Again, I think it's in part to the technology and the fact that tickets are available on a secondary platform and more accessible than they have been in the past. I think we'll continue to see more of that in many of the markets."

Is that a concern for L.A.?

"No, not for us at all. We're not seeing that as they're approaching coming into their new stadium either with the Rams or the Chargers. As I said, this is something that's happening throughout the league. You see it."

On Antonio Brown investigation/resolution:

"We're still working at that. I will probably be getting an update when I get back to New York, but our folks have been working diligently on that, going through materials. There's a lot of material to go through. When we reach a conclusion, we'll obviously let you know."