- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Former NFL player Wade Davis’ speech to the owners, coaches and general managers delivered a significant message about sexual orientation in sports, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday.

Goodell had previously met with Davis, who is gay, “and I found his message to be very important for all of us to hear.”

“He was talking about (how) he’s professional, he’s part of the family that we all are in the NFL and he just wants to make sure that he provides that kind of workplace where people can go and play football, and be comfortable playing football,” Goodell said. “He wants to work to help us do that. He recognizes everyone’s not an advocate or someone who’s going to carry the flag, but these young men who want to play in the NFL, they want an opportunity. Our job is to make sure we provide the opportunity.”

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam could become the first openly gay player in the NFL if he is drafted next month. He is expected to be a mid-round choice.

What knowledge did Goodell want NFL teams to take from Smith’s appearance at the owners meetings?

“Just a better understanding of what these young men are thinking about, going through,” he said, “and what they can do to provide them the right opportunity and the right environment. That’s the key.”


GOODELL ON VICK: New York Jets owner Woody Johnson spoke with Goodell before the team signed quarterback Michael Vick as a free agent. Goodell wouldn’t discuss specifics of his conversation with Johnson, but he gave Vick a ringing endorsement at a news conference Wednesday.

“I think Michael is a young man who made a tragic mistake. He paid a very high price for it,” Goodell said of Vick’s involvement in a dog fighting ring that led to Vick spending 18 months in a federal prison before returning to the NFL in 2009. “But I’ve seen him, in everything he’s done, exceed expectations. He’s worked very hard to be a positive force in a lot different areas. That’s something I admire about him.

“When we went through the process of reviewing whether he would enter back into the league, he demonstrated he was someone committed to ‘I’m going to do this the right way. I’m going to be a positive force.’ And he has. I’m proud of what he’s done.”


STAYING ON TOP: Winning a Super Bowl was great. Doing it again would be even better to Pete Carroll.

The Seahawks coach, who won two national championships at Southern California, sees plenty of similarities in trying to defend a title.

“I hope it is,” he said with a smile about getting to experience a repeat championship in the NFL. “This is the challenge I cherish most, to stay up there.

“It’s the same language, same intent, how you focus and what you can maintain. Develop that mentality it takes to get back. I take it seriously and I’m eager to see how we do it.”

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