NEW YORK -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's annual State of the League news conference at the Super Bowl is always good for a few news items that help us forecast the future of the NFL. Friday was no exception.
Goodell sounded bullish on the possibility of expanding the playoffs, adding centralized instant replay and threw cold water on the St. Louis Rams moving to Los Angeles anytime soon. Goodell addressed fans in St. Louis directly, speaking about owner Stan Kroenke's latest purchase in Los Angeles:
"Stan is a very successful developer. He has billions of dollars in projects around the country of real-estate development. I think, instead of overreacting, we should make sure we do what's necessary to continue to support the team locally, which the fans have done in St. Louis," Goodell said. "And make sure we can do whatever we can to make sure that team is successful in the St. Louis market."
Goodell indicated to Rich Eisen on NFL Network that Kroenke "hasn't determined what he's going to do with that property, and how he's going to develop it."
Until Kroenke decides, folks in St. Louis naturally will stay nervous. Here's what else we learned from Goodell's news conference:
- It sounds like there is a good chance the NFL will be bringing replay in-house to a centralized location. Goodell indicated that concept could come in a few different forms.
"Well, the most important thing for us -- we think there's plenty of opportunity to improve the game of football and officiating in particular. What we all want is consistency (and) fairness in our officiating. And we believe that we might be able to achieve more consistency with instant replay when there's more of a centralized version and decision-making process.
"And that's something the competition committee is going to consider over the next two months and come back to a recommendation for the membership. I do believe there's a possibility that some version of that will occur where our office can at least be involved with the decision. They may not make the decision, but at least can provide some input that would be helpful to the officials on the field to make sure they're seeing every angle to make sure they have the proper opportunity to make the best decision."
- Goodell strongly supported the notion of expanding the playoffs to 14 teams. While there are still hurdles to cross with the competition committee, the commissioner sounded to be very much favor of the idea.
- The United Kingdom is "further down the road" to have a franchise, according to Goodell. He lauded the ability to sell out a third game in 2014 in London so quickly.
"The more we give the UK fans, the more they want," he said.
- The NFL isn't going to change its marijuana policy anytime soon.
"This has been something that has been asked several times, and I'll try to be as clear as I possibly can," Goodell said. "It is still an illegal substance on a national basis. It is something that is part of our collective bargaining agreement with our players.
"It is questionable with respect to the positive impact, but there's certainly some very strong evidence to the negative impacts, including addiction and other issues. So we'll continue to follow the medicine. Experts, right now, are not indicating that we should change our policy in any way. We are not actively considering that at this point in time."
That was about as strong as Goodell was on any issue Friday. Oh, and in case you are wondering:
"I am randomly tested, and I'm happy to say that I'm clean," Goodell said.
- Don't expect the NFL to start playing games on Saturday night in the "very near future."
- Goodell could not have been more complimentary of New York and New Jersey's role in hosting Super Bowl XLVIII, but he did not make any promises about future cold-weather games. He noted that a significant infrastructure needs to be in place to hold the game, and many cities can't pull it off. (To start: You need 30,000 hotel rooms.)
- The commissioner also indicated that the league wants to bring the Super Bowl to a great number of cities, rather than rotate the game between favorite warm-weather cities.
- On the struggles selling tickets on Wild Card Weekend, Goodell pointed the finger at himself and team owners.
"We have to fix it," Goodell said, noting he doesn't believe the struggles are a reflection of fan passion.
- Goodell said fantasy football is not to be equated with gambling, and the league will continue to support it.