Goodell answers questions at NFL Kickoff Fan Forum

NEW ORLEANS -- The day before the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints were to kick off the NFL regular season, Commissioner Roger Goodell held an NFL Kickoff Fan Forum inside the Superdome and answered questions from Saints season ticket holders and fans for nearly 90 minutes.

The forum was shown on NFL Network and hosted by Fran Charles. Here is a transcript of the exchange Goodell had with the estimated 150 fans in attendance on Wednesday:

Fan: Welcome to New Orleans. And thank you so much for all the NFL does for us and our community here. I'm going to start with a really simple question: What are the major issues in the Collective Bargaining Agreement from your perspective, and should we be concerned about a work stoppage in 2011?

Commissioner Goodell: And this is your simple question? We'll get to a more complicated question later? All right. Listen, I think the opportunity for us right now in the NFL is to get a labor agreement that's going to go forward that looks forward to how the game is changing.

There are a variety of things that are being addressed in the overall context of negotiations. One is a rookie pool. I'm a firm believer we need to change our rookie compensation. The money should be going to the veterans that have earned it on this field right here. And I think that's one of the things we need to change.

I think we need to continue to do more for our retired players. I think we need to do more to help investments in our game so that we can continue to make the game bigger and better.

I think we need to improve on the quality of what we do. I think we always need to focus on player health and safety. And I also believe in integrity of the game, and that's improving on our drug testing program.

We have plenty of time to get this done, but we do have a window. We need to get this done sooner rather than later. Come March, it becomes a lot more complicated. So our focus is to get down to some serious negotiations, get some issues resolved and keep playing football. That's what we all want to do.

Fan: First of all, I'd like to thank you, Commissioner, Former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, and the NFL, Mr. Benson and the entire organization, for sticking with the city of New Orleans five years ago.

A lot of people let us down, but the NFL and the Saints did not. And we thank you very much for that.

Commissioner Goodell: Thank you. We thank you, though, because you guys did it.

Fan: And that leads to my question. I think five years ago there was a question whether the city of New Orleans would be viable as a city, much less as an NFL franchise. And I'm wondering if the NFL experience here over the last five years has changed the way the NFL looks at the viability of small market franchises and possible relocation and things like that, because if anyone was questionable, I think we were. And we proved everyone wrong, and you stuck by us, and I think it's paid off well.

Commissioner Goodell: Well, I agree with you. The first thing is you all did prove everybody wrong. I don't think it's everybody. I think there are some doubters out there. But I think the NFL always believed you, and I know the Saints organization always believed in you. And I think the proof is in the pudding. You're now Super Bowl champs. And I think you've taken the relationship between a team and a community to a completely new level.

In fact, I would tell you that I think that relationship is something that we will try to replicate in every market. It's more than just a football team in a community. It's something about the hopes and the dreams of this community and how it lives in this football team, and how this football team has given back to this community, too. I'm proud of what our players do, our coaches do, our organizations do, led by the Bensons.

They have really taken this community and said we want to incorporate that into our football team and represent this community through our football team. And I think that's extraordinary.

And I think it's a tribute to this community, the organization, and to really the NFL in general. So I'm proud of it, and we're proud of everything you all do in supporting us. Who is the next one?

Fan: Mr. Goodell, welcome to the Who Dat nation. My question is, in light of some of the issues that occurred in the games in the preseason, what, if anything, has been done with regards to the mechanics of the umpire and his positioning to allow for a hurry up offense prior to the last two minutes of the half?

Commissioner Goodell: Well, you ask a very good question. For those that aren't aware of it. We changed the umpire's position from the defensive side of the ball to the offensive side of the ball. And the concept, frankly, was to improve the safety of our umpire. They're in a line of fire there that was becoming extremely dangerous, and we had a number of umpires hurt last year.

We have moved them to the offensive side, essentially mirroring the referee but we're going to move them up a little bit further towards the line of scrimmage to allow them to get back to spot the ball.

We're going to allow the line judge and head linesman to be able to signal when the quarterback can go ahead and proceed with the play.

But we've changed those mechanics to speed up the play, speed up the spotting of the ball. We don't think it's going to be a factor going into this.

I just had a conference call with our Competition Committee on Sunday night. They were unanimous in the support of doing this. So I think we've worked through all the bugs in the preseason. I think we're going to be able to do it and execute it in the right way during the regular season.

Fan: Welcome back to New Orleans. Are there plans to expand the league, and if so, do you foresee a Canadian team in the mix?

Commissioner Goodell: Well, there are no plans to expand the league right now. Right now we're talking about how we improve the quality of what we do within the context of what we do. As an example, 20 game format. We're looking to see if changing that format from the current 16 regular games and four preseason games, we should change that to 18 and two. Primarily because the game has changed. We don't need four season games. I'll tell you the next issue is because we hear from you all directly. Fans don't like preseason games. I hear that consistently when we do forums and when we talk to fans.

It's something that's very clear and probably the number one issue they raise with me. We have to improve that quality and improve the value of what we do, because we know all of you are going through difficult times, too.

That's what makes the NFL great is continuing to change and evolve. But I don't see adding teams, I see taking our content, taking our games, taking what we're doing and trying to do it better.

Fan: Thanks for having us, Mr. Goodell. The NFL Draft has been hosted by New York City for as long as I can remember. Have there been any discussions around bringing the Draft to New Orleans, and what are you going to do to bring the NFL Draft to New Orleans?

Commissioner Goodell: Let's be direct about that, huh? That was good. I like that. There have been discussions. As you know for the first time we went through three days of the Draft. And I think that was a great change for us, because we proved that we could do it in a prime time format on Thursday and Friday night, and then the last day, Saturday, was a great success.

Now that we've done that, we're now thinking: Could you take one of those nights, either the Thursday or the Friday night, and take it into what we would call a neutral market or a home market for one of our other clubs.

And I think there's a lot of merit to it. We're trying to balance that with logistics, with the competitive issues of teams preparing for the Draft. But it's something we're continuing to analyze.

I would be happy to do it if I think it would improve the quality of what we do. And that's what we're always searching for. We're looking at how can we do it better. And I think with the changes we made to the Draft have done that. I want to make sure that the changes we make in the future will achieve the same objective.

Fan: Welcome to New Orleans, Commissioner. My question is, do you have a major concern by holding the Super Bowl in New York City or a northern state with the extreme cold weather, and do you have a back up plan if something was to happen?

Commissioner Goodell: Let me guess, you're volunteering New Orleans, aren't you?

You know, I'm a firm believer the game's meant to be played in the elements. And some of our more classic games are played in the cold weather, the elements, snow, rain, and I think that's part of what the NFL's all about. It's about celebrating our tradition and our history and what's unique to the game of football.

I think they're going to do an extraordinary job there. We have a great new stadium that's opening up this weekend, and we all know New York will do a great job. It's a great stage.

And I think it will give us an opportunity to really celebrate the game in a way that I think the fans will enjoy. So I actually think it's going to be terrific for us. I know you're still voting for New Orleans, though, right?

Fan: It's always better in a closed stadium.

Commissioner Goodell: Well, you know it has been in the northern climates, and that's the change we're going to try and see how it works. But you'll like it better if the Saints are in it, won't you?

Fan: Every year.

Commissioner Goodell: There you go.

Fan: Commissioner Goodell, my question has to do with the future of the NFL and the international viewership. Currently you allow one player on offense and one player on defense to wear or to have audio in their helmets. Normally quarterback, middle linebacker. Do you foresee a day where all 22 players on the field will have audio in their helmets, thereby eliminating the need for most huddles which would speed up the pace of the game a little bit and it may make it more appealing for our international viewers?

Commissioner Goodell: Well, you're referring to the fact that the pace of the game would be more attractive to our international viewers. And I think there's some element to that, because they're not used to the breaks as we are here in the United States.

But, actually, they're really taking to our game at an extraordinary level. So they really love our game. And I think the more they understand it, they understand why we take the breaks.

You always want to try to improve the game, but if you if you mic ed everyone and everyone had the radio devices in their head, it takes a little bit of the element of the fans out of the game, and I think that's what's important. I think when you come here and play in this stadium we're standing here tomorrow night it's going to be tough for people to hear.

And that's what home field advantage is all about. So I don't see us going to that very quickly. It's something we've discussed. But right now I think the pace of the game we always focus on that, and I think we've achieved that in a way that makes sense right now.

Fan: Commissioner Goodell, it's a pleasure to have you in New Orleans. My question to you is, what type of process goes into deciding what disciplinary action to take when an NFL player or personnel are involved in incidents outside of football?

Commissioner Goodell: Well, the first thing you have to do, and it's one of the toughest parts of my job and it's also fortunate it's a very small part of my job but it gets a lot of attention the first thing you want to do is make sure you get the facts straight.

When we developed the personal conduct policy with the Players Association, one of the things we were looking to do was change behavior. We wanted to make sure that people recognize the responsibility of playing in the NFL and what they needed to do to continue to have a career in the NFL.

And we have a responsibility, back to the public, to support us. And so we developed a policy that if there's a pattern of behavior that's trouble some we're going to interject ourselves into the system and we make sure that individual gets help, understands their responsibility and starts to make better decisions.

When you're on the NFL stage, your mistakes are magnified. Everyone's going to see them. It's part of what happens in the NFL. But it's reality. And we have to deal with that.

So whether you're a player, coach, a commissioner, you're going to be held to a higher standard. And I think we owe that to you, the fans. And I think it's something that our players are responding to, because I'm proud of our players.

They do great things in the community. And it's something I want to continue to focus on the positive, not the negative.

Fan: My question goes into sort of what you just said, because I think that the players do so many wonderful things. There's so many more wonderful things that they do and it's not necessarily everything we see in the press. So how can you get that out into the public, because they're great for our communities and charities.

Commissioner Goodell: They are, and as I say I'm so proud of what they do. The Saints are a great example of that. Drew Brees, Sean Peyton, all of the Saints, they're out there every day making sure they understand how much they appreciate this community. And I think that's a two way relationship.

And that's a wonderful thing for us. And we want to model that throughout the NFL. But we also can't be naive enough. There's an old saying that says the media doesn't focus on the safe landings at airports. They focus on the crashes.

So, unfortunately, we have to recognize they're going to focus on some of the negatives. What we have to do is try to minimize or eliminate those negatives, and that's what I keep saying to the players and the coaches and everyone else. It's our responsibility to manage ourselves and put ourselves in better positions and not put ourselves in the position where we can be either accused of things or put in a position where it's not going to reflect well on the NFL.

So it's our responsibility, nobody else's.

Fan: I'm a freshman football player. Why is the NFL the only major sports league that does not offer a fully guaranteed contract to players, especially when TV contracts are guaranteed?

Commissioner Goodell: The reality is that much of our money is guaranteed, because what they do is they get it in signing bonuses. And about 50 percent of our money is actually in signing bonuses and guarantees. So you get that when you sign your contract.

I think it's one of the things that is unique to the NFL, probably, is that everyone has to earn their paycheck. Everyone has to earn the next opportunity to be successful.

And I think that's good for the game. I think it's good for competition, which is what we're all about. We want to create the greatest competition on this field. We want people to work as hard as they can to win, to play on the Saints, to represent this community, and I think compensation should follow that. That's how we're all paid. We're paid on the basis of our performance. And that's what the general focus is finding a balance between signing bonuses and performance.

Fan: Commissioner, I would like to ask if, for instance, in Green Bay, the city owns part of the team.

Commissioner Goodell: Right.

Fan: Would you ever consider allowing other cities to purchase part of the team thereby allowing the team to remain in that city for us, the fans?

Commissioner Goodell: Well, what really keeps the team in Green Bay is not the public ownership of the team. It's the policies of the NFL. What it is is that we share our television revenue equally. So we give every team an equal opportunity to have the revenue needed to be competitive.

It's one of the reasons you saw the Saints and the Indianapolis Colts, two small market teams, in the Super Bowl last year. So it's not the public ownership that keeps the team in the community; it's actually the system.

And our system of revenue sharing, where we share close to 80 percent of our revenue has been very successful in the NFL. And why I believe we're the most competitive league. Because we're out there, every team has the hope of winning the Super Bowl this year. I know who your hope is. But I can promise you.

Fan: We're going to dash their hopes.

Commissioner Goodell: Yeah, but everybody at least right now thinks they're going to go to the Super Bowl. And that's a great thing for our fans. It's a great thing for the NFL. We want to keep that kind of a system. In fact, I think this last year was the seventh straight season where we had a team that went from last to first.

And last year was a pretty special one, as you know. The team went on and won the Super Bowl, the Saints. So it's a good system.

And I think it's a system that we need to focus on, make sure we maintain that system so that we can continue bringing you high quality football.

Fan: Mr. Goodell, it is my opinion that the NFL is trending in a significantly different direction than the original spirit of the game. My concern is that in trying to make football safe, you turn it into something else. Football is not a safe thing to do by design. Playing quarterback is not supposed to guarantee you extra protection. Fining players for violent hits seems to me to be in direct opposition of the main idea of playing football. Please tell me that you are doing things to maintain the integrity of football or that you are at least aware that there is a significant concern over the direction you are pushing the league. Is the game getting too soft?

Commissioner Goodell: Well, Blake, I couldn't agree with you more. The game is as tough as it's always been. What we have found, though, there are certain techniques that are in the game that we think should be removed from the game, because they're dangerous. They're dangerous to the people who actually do the striking and to the person that's being struck.

And they mostly revolve around defenseless players. You mentioned quarterbacks, when they're in a particular position, they're defenseless. It's a tough position.

They get hit hard. And we understand that. And they understand that. But you want to make sure that the game stays tough, but that you take those certain techniques out of the game that can cause injuries, and serious injuries. And I think we've done that over the last several seasons. And I don't think it's changed the game at all.

In fact, I think by the reaction we've seen from fans in general, the game's never been more popular. But we do understand your point, which is we don't want to change the core of the game, what's made the game so popular, but we also want to make it safe for the players who play the game.

Fan: One of the items on my bucket list is to hold a down marker at an NFL game. My question is, are there any women officials? If not, do you foresee having women officials at some future date?

Commissioner Goodell: That's a question my daughter asked me just the other day, and it's a very good question. We actually have two officials that are females that are I think right on the edge of being an NFL official. We've worked with them in training camps. We've worked with them on the college level, to give them some additional training.

But I think that's going to happen very soon. And I think it's a good thing for our sport.

Fan: Welcome. I wanted to ask about I guess the positive culture, the positive influence that it has in the community, the NFL, and what our team has done for us. In relation to, I guess, the character building that you've been trying to perform in the league, suspensions just seem pointless to me, wherein if there was some mandate for community service, where the guys had to turn around and do some of the wonderful things we've seen in our community, I was just interested if the league had, I guess, thought about the idea of mandating community service?

Commissioner Goodell: Well, we actually do in many circumstances, whether it's a player or a coach or front office executive, require them to do public service as part of their discipline.

It just doesn't get the attention that a suspension will. But the reality is, when you take a player or a coach, or executive, away from a game on a weekend, that's a tough penalty. That's what they all work to do is to play on this field. They don't want to let their teammates down.

And, again, going back to a question that was asked earlier, what you're trying to do is change behavior. You're trying to get them to avoid being in trouble in the first place. And you want to make sure that the penalty has consequences, that they will want to avoid.

And when that happens, hopefully they'll change their behavior in advance. But you asked a question about the community. I'd love to hear from you about the community.

Is this community do you see the reaction in this community to the Saints because of our discipline policies or just because of what they're doing in their communities?

Fan: I mean, especially in the aftermath of Katrina, and just the accessibility to players that we have in this community you don't see in other communities. I mean, the barriers in this city are very thin. People live around the corner. Players are right there. They're at the grocery store. There's so much involvement. And I just don't think in the larger markets, I'm sure you don't see that.

Commissioner Goodell: I think that's what makes it special what's happened here in this market in the Gulf coast with the Saints. It was authentic. What the Saints did with this community was because they understood what this community was going through.

And they wanted to be a part of bringing this community back. And that's something that every community, not every community, thankfully is going to have a tragedy like you all have had. And other communities, they all have their own challenges. It's up to us, as leaders in the NFL, to find those issues in those communities and help make their communities better.

Because you all support us. We have to help support you back again and do what's right in our community.

Fan: My question is: Has the NFL ever discussed going public, and with the associated teams going public, that way the fans would actually have an opportunity to participate in the profits? I mean, we spend a lot of money going to games. We do a lot of stuff. And at the end of the day the NFL is a business. So my question is, has that ever been discussed?

Commissioner Goodell: Well, it has been discussed actually the question about the Green Bay Packers who are owned by a public trust. They don't get any of the profits. They're actually shareholders, but there's no distribution of the profits. It goes back into the team to help the team continue to perform. It's been discussed, but I think one of the things that's made the NFL unique is competition and the fact that you have an owner in each market. And sometimes several owners.

But you have one single owner who is going to make a decision. When I put any policy forward, whether it be a television agreement or a change in a rule, we have 32 owners, 24 owners have to approve that. And they have to work together, even though they compete on this field, their partner's off the field, and they have to try to work to embrace policies that are going to make the game better and make the league better.

Even if it may not be in your best interests individually, it has to be in the best interests of the overall 32 clubs. And I think having 32 individual owners has helped that. Now, we have the Green Bay Packers who were represented by a chief executive that's elected by a board. So that individual has the vote on behalf of the Green Bay Packers.

And it's helpful. So I think you also have owners like the Bensons, who invest back in their community, and you're seeing that all around this dome. They're making investments in this community that I think are benefitting this community, and you see that in every market. So I think our owners give back a lot to their communities, and it's beneficial for everybody.

Fan: Welcome to New Orleans. And on behalf of the citizens, thank you, the league, the Benson family, for all you've done for this city. And I might say to steal in words from someone before me, mission accomplished. Thank you.

Commissioner Goodell: Thank you.

Fan: My question is to ask you if you'd speak to the matter of instant replay, and the consideration of possibly having a group of NFL officials in the control room watching every, monitor every play to see that in fact there are no calls that are missed, because obviously we know the officials can't be in all places at all times and see everything, but to make the game officiated more accurately, to have a group in the control room that could push the button when there's a call that obviously could change the game if it's not correct and they could correct it?

Commissioner Goodell: You're touching on point we've tried to find the right balance with our instant replay system. Number one is you want to maintain that flow of the game, that pace of the game. You don't want to stop every play because you see a mistake.

We do have people in our control room, and they also look at the tapes when they come in after every game and we review every play, every call over and over again to make sure that the call is correct. And then we grade each official on each call and each crew.

Instant replay, though, is designed to make sure that we can avoid those serious mistakes that can change the game. That's why we have a system where you challenge. So it's part of the strategy a coach has to come into the game with.

And we want it to be a limited replay system, because we don't want to review every play. That would change the pace of what we're trying to do, which is provide an entertaining fast paced game. And I think you would ruin that by having too many stoppages, by having people in a room up in New York pushing a button when they see a mistake. The replay system itself has prevented those serious errors from happening and it also proves that as technology changes with high def, you're seeing more and more calls, you're seeing it from different perspectives, what it's doing is proving that our officials are right most of the time.

Fan: Hi, I'm a senior. NFL Play 60 is a great program, but I was wondering if you're willing to extend it to high school students for internships such as for sports medicine?

Commissioner Goodell: It's a good question. To learn about sports medicine or to play?

Fan: Potentially be on the field with sports medicine with the team.

Commissioner Goodell: That's a good suggestion. Are you doing internships with your high school now?

Fan: Yes.

Commissioner Goodell: With the football team or all sports? It's a very good suggestion. I'll take it up. I think it's a great idea. Because we do need to have medical personnel there. We're very careful, but injuries can always occur. So it's a good thought.

Fan: Mr. Commissioner, my topic or question would be fan accountability. Five years ago I started a quest to make my family and show them the United States one NFL city at a time. We've been to eight cities now, and the only time we have issues is on NFL properties themselves. We travel, we wear our gear on the airplanes, in the cities, but on the properties it can be tough sometimes. I'm not going to point fingers at specific properties because that's not fair. But I feel that the NFL needs to help us as fans and take the league to the next level and promote intercity traveling. One thing I would suggest to do would be something of maybe putting undercover agents on the properties in the stadiums, dressed as I am; when they get spit on, kicked, punched as I do, handcuff and get rid of them. Because 99 percent of the fans out there are good fans. It's the one percent that continually badger road team fans.

Commissioner Goodell: You're talking about something that I feel very strongly about. When we invite you to a stadium or you come to an NFL stadium, we've got to ensure you have a great experience.

And that's something that is not only fan conduct, as I call it. It's also technology. What do we do to make sure when you're here we give you a great experience and can provide you technology. But it really does start with fan conduct.

The last four seasons I've gone in and I've gone as a fan to a game each year incognito, and it's given me a new perspective.

Fan: Dressed as ...

Commissioner Goodell: I can't tell you what I was dressed as then you would know who I am next year. I'm teasing.

Fan: I guess what I'm getting at that would be an easy way to get rid of the one percent that's creating this problem.

Commissioner Goodell: The best thing we've found we do have some undercover people, obviously. But the best thing is the fans themselves. We have a texting system now, where, if you see fan misbehavior, you can text the number and we'll get somebody down there immediately. In fact, many of our stadiums now have cameras that can locate that individual in a matter of seconds.

When we see that, we have them removed from the stadium. And if it's their second, they're out. They're not invited back. Because I think everyone should be able to bring their family and enjoy NFL football. It's too great an experience not to share with your family. And I say that as a father of twin daughters, by the way.

Fan: We promote the league the best. We travel. And I think a lot of people are not traveling because they're worried about certain cities they've got to go to. So we need some assistance.

Commissioner Goodell: Again, we all want to root for our home team. I understand that. But there's a good nature experience that when you come you may get razzed a little bit but it shouldn't ruin your experience.

Fan: We expect to hear our quarterback's going down. We tell them the same thing. We just don't want to be spit on.

Commissioner Goodell: I agree with that. I'm sorry that happened to you, and I apologize. We've got to fix that, and we're going to try to do that.

Fan: Who dat. My question is going to be on the 18 regular games. By the 14th, 15th game, a lot of players are beat up and injured. And I was wondering, do you think it's going to put too much stress on the players to play 18 regular games that y'all have concerns?

Commissioner Goodell: That's a very good question, Elvis. Can I call you Elvis?

Fan: Cajun King.

Commissioner Goodell: One of the most important things is to focus on we're staying within that 20 game format. We have 16 regular season, four preseason games. What's become clear is we don't need four preseason games. The players don't want to play in four preseason games anymore and the injuries occur in the preseason games. And the fans don't like the meaningless nature of that and the fact they come and they don't see the players play.

It's a way to improve the quality. When we do that, we have to make sure we look at that. Expanding rosters is something we've got to look at. We'll look at changing our injured reserve rules, to some extent.

I believe a big change has to be in our offseason. The amount of contact that used to happen in the offseason needs to change so that they're not worn and torn by the end of the season, and they can stay healthy. I think it's a very important initiative for us, and it can be done. The game has changed dramatically in the last several years. The amount of contact that happens in training camps now, I saw a real cultural change in that this year when I went around in camps with John Madden. There used to be training camps for two months, double sessions every day, full contact, full pads.

That doesn't happen anymore. So we're taking a lot of the contact out in non game situations and making sure that we focus on those 18 games and making sure they're the best quality we can put on.

Fan: Good evening, Commissioner. I'm not going to ask you the question my two cousins told me to ask you, so I'm going to take it easy here. Could you so kindly explain to us the overtime rule, and is it going to be extended into the regular season, because a few people was asking that question. Go Roger!

Commissioner Goodell: We made the change in the overtime rule last year just as it applies to the post season. We thought that that was the greatest risk. And what we heard from fans is that they didn't want to see a post season game, which is, as you know, one win and you move on or one loss and you're out.

They didn't want to see the team lose where the circumstances could be anywhere in doubt who was the best team.

And they thought that the best way to do that was to ensure both teams had an opportunity at the ball if you didn't score a touchdown. And I think our Competition Committee has been working at this for several, several years and I think they finally got something in this offseason that found the right balance.

It continues to have a sudden death nature which I think is unique to our game, but it also forces a strategy, a team to go for 7 if you want to win the game and not give the team the ball. And I think it's find a nice balance between strategy, sudden death and making sure that we have a result that you all can feel the best team won.

We will think about the regular season, though. It's a good question. We did talk about it in May but I think we want to see how it works in the post season.

Fan: Commissioner, it's nice to finally meet you. I had some help in the Saints ticket office. I was trying to get some tickets. I wrote a thank you note to the Saints ticket agent. And because of that, he gave my name to USA Today and I was quoted in USA Today. You saw the article in U.S.A. Today and called up and treated us to the Super Bowl. And I don't know how to thank you for that. That was absolutely unbelievable, and I just can't tell you how much you have meant to this city and bringing the Saints back to our home team. Thank you.

Commissioner Goodell: Why doesn't everybody have a question like that. That's good.

Fan: What is the NFL doing aggressively I know the market, the ownership, you know, it's a hard nut to crack to become an NFL owner. But what is the NFL doing to as far as inclusion or diversity with ownership?

Commissioner Goodell: It's a very big initiative for us. Not just in the front offices where we have implemented something called the Rooney Rule that we worked on for several years. And it's had a dramatic change in our hiring process.

We have to make sure that we hire a diverse slate, or, excuse me, interview a diverse slate. And then you make a decision on the best candidate. And it's proven that people who came into a process who thought this might be the best candidate, found out this was the best candidate. And I think it's been a model, not only just in the NFL, it's well beyond that. We're also taking the same initiative on ownership.

We have several limited partners who happen to have diverse backgrounds. And we continue to focus on that and try to bring more. We'd love to have a controlling owner be in that position.

It's a pretty hefty price. And there are a limited number of people out there. What we have to do is find the right individual who can meet our ownership policies and there are plenty of people out there that are interested and we're working to do that and I hope that's going to happen some day soon.

Charles: I have one question before we wrap things here. Outside of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, what is the most pressing issue for you moving forward for the 2010 season?

Commissioner Goodell: Well, a lot of our fans talked about it today. It's really the quality of our game and making sure that the quality of our experience for our fans stays at the highest possible level.

And a lot of that is about the integrity of the game, making sure that people feel that the integrity of our game is uncompromised at all times. And I think that's the job of the commissioner. That's part of my responsibility, is to put the game first, make sure that the game is the most important thing that we do. And that's what I focus my time on.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.