If the NFL, and more specifically the Oakland Raiders, have a future in Las Vegas, it's something Commissioner Roger Goodell isn't prepared to confirm at the moment.
Goodell called any talk "premature" and discounted most of the available rumors as speculation during his news conference at the Spring League Meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday. Goodell also noted that the Las Vegas market would have to be considered "from a gambling standpoint" before the league would consider letting a franchise relocate there.
Raiders owner Mark Davis, who has met with officials in Vegas recently, told reporters on Tuesday at the meetings that the move would "unite Raider Nation."
"I think this has been a very transparent issue," Goodell said about the ongoing struggle for the Raiders to secure a new stadium in Oakland. "I spoke to (Oakland's mayor) last night at 10 o'clock. I'm in touch with her. I told her before, if there are proposals and solutions that she can identify or that we can help them identify. We have given from an ownership standpoint another $100 million, $300 million, to get a stadium built in Oakland. We believe in that market. I know Mark Davis does. But there has to be a solution that's developed. It's not just on us. There has got to be cooperative agreement to try to find that solution. It's been a long time coming. This isn't something that started 12 months ago. This has been a long time that we have been seeking a solution in Oakland and it's time to get to that. We will play our part and I know the Raiders will also."
He added: "The Raiders have been very open about the challenges to get a stadium built. It's not fair to ship all of that responsibility to the Raiders. Public officials, the private sector, the Raiders, the NFL we all have a responsibility. It is a shared responsibility. It's not one person saying it's somebody else's responsibility. We all have to work together to find that solution."
Patriots owner Robert Kraft reiterated his support for Davis and a potential Las Vegas relocation, calling a potential move "very viable."
"It's a new market," Davis said. "It's got the potential to be a very exciting market. It's one of the places where, the Raider fans in northern California ... it's a neutral site. It's going to unite the Raider nation more than divide it. I've given my commitment to Las Vegas and if they can come through with what they're talking about doing, then we'll go to Las Vegas."
Goodell, to say the least, is not as enthused and seems to be much further away from considering the Silver and Black in any other town.
Some other highlights:
» Goodell addressed a report issued Monday that alleges the league "improperly attempted to influence the grant review process for a National Institutes of Health (NIH) brain injury study that the NFL had agreed to fund as part of a $30 million donation."
"I didn't see the report, we were traveling down here. But I take a much different position to that on several fronts. One is our commitment to medical research is well-documented. We made a commitment to the NIH. It is normal practice for you have to discussions back and forth with the NIH. We have several members that are advisors on our committees including Betsy Nabel, including Rich Ellenbogen who have had experience with NIH or worked with NIH. These are very important to continue to have that kind of dialogue, two appropriate channels, which our advisors have. They have those relationships. It's a standard practice. We have our commitment of $30 million to the NIH, we're not pulling that back one bit. We continue to focus on things that our advisors believe are important to study. Ultimately, it's NIH's decision."
Goodell continued to suggest that player safety was improving, and reiterated that it has always been his top priority as commissioner.
"You know since I've became Commissioner ... this is our No. 1 priority. It's something that we have to do better at. We have to continue to make progress to make our game safer for our players at the NFL level, but also future players and at all levels of football. We have to do it for our retired players. We have to continue to find ways in which to make our game safer. We're not done yet. I put that as a very important concern for us going forward, to make the game safer for those playing today and those playing in the future, and to do what we can to help retired players continue to transition through life in a positive way.
"We've seen some very positive reports about retired players in the last couple of weeks, but we need to reach out to our retired players, we need to reach out to our current players to let them know what's happening out there with facts. One of the things we're trying to do, whether it's kids playing youth football or whether it's high school or whether it's college or whether it's the NFL or retired players, is make sure people understand the facts. That's what we've done, and that's why we're going to continue to be committed to this, have transparency in what we do.
"You mentioned the NIH report. A congressman issued that report without even talking to any of our advisers. I don't think that's appropriate. I don't think that's the right way to do things."
» The NFL Players Association filed a petition Monday to rehear Tom Brady's case on the four-game suspension related to potentially-deflated footballs during the 2015 playoffs. Brady's legal team is hoping to be heard in front of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. Goodell spoke about the appeal Tuesday.
"I respect the NFLPA's ability to appeal if they chose to appeal and they did," he said. "That's a matter for the lawyers if things progress. But I'm really not focused on that at all."
He did not comment on whether the NFL would try and stand in Brady's way if the court allowed Brady to play.
Kraft, speaking to NFL Media's Judy Battista, continued his unwavering support of Brady.
"The whole thing has been mishandled in my opinion," Kraft said. "We hope he prevails."