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Roger Goodell: No plans to expand NFL anytime soon
Question of the Day
INDIANAPOLIS — Sorry, Los Angeles. The only NFL expansion happening anytime soon is to next season’s schedule of Thursday night games.
During his annual Super Bowl news conference, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday there hasn’t been any discussion about adding to the league’s 32 teams, and indicated he’s not too keen about the idea of shifting a franchise, either.
“We have not talked about expansion in the league at all. It has not been on our agenda. It is not something we’ve focused on with our membership. And I don’t see that in the foreseeable future,” Goodell said. “We want to keep our teams where they are. We believe that’s healthier for the league in the long term. We’re working to get stadiums built and make sure we do whatever we can to make sure those teams are successful in those communities.”
Los Angeles, the second-largest market in the U.S., has been without an NFL team since the Rams and Raiders both left after the 1994 season.
“We would like to be back in Los Angeles, if we can do it correctly,” Goodell said. “There are a lot of issues that have to be balanced there.”
He announced that every club will appear on prime-time TV in 2012, thanks in part to a new slate of Thursday games that now will be scheduled from Week 2 through Week 15. NBC will air a game on Thanksgiving night; the other 12 Thursdays will go on the NFL Network, which aired eight games in 2011.
“We think it’s great for the fans, for the teams — and great for the network,” Goodell said.
He discussed a wide variety of issues during his 45-minute session with reporters, touching on topics such as concussions, testing players for human growth hormone, and games in England, Mexico and elsewhere.
Asked about an Associated Press story this week based on interviews with a dozen former players, including Hall of Fame member Tony Dorsett, who have filed lawsuits against the league related to concussions, Goodell said: “We have done a great deal to try to address issues that are specific to our former players. We will always make sure that player health and safety is the No. 1 priority in the NFL.”
“We will not quit. We are not done yet. We’re going to do what we possibly can to help our retired players, the current players and future players, by making the game safer,” Goodell said.
“And we will do that with rules, we will do that by improving the equipment, and we will do it by making sure that we pioneer research that’s going to make sure we understand all there is about brain injuries, brain disease, and make sure we’re being responsible leaders.”
Asked about a report that the language in player contracts might be changed to prohibit suing the league, Goodell replied: “In certain cases, a club and a player may have individual negotiations, but there is no league-wide effort to do that.”
He pointed out this season’s new kickoff rules meant to improve safety, saying injury rates were down, particularly for concussions.
Noting one possible change for next season, Goodell said the league likely will increase its use of replays to help team doctors assess possible injuries by putting TVs on every sideline. That’s something the league began during the playoffs, in reaction to Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy going back into a December game after a helmet-to-helmet shot.
Goodell said the league also will consider having independent neurological doctors at games to examine players and determine if they should be held out because of concussions. When the AP interviewed a group of current players about that last year, 31 were in favor, and 10 against it.
By David Keene
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