NFL Commissioner Goodell tackles diversity, concussions
PHOENIX (AP) — From diversity to concussions, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated the league is still looking for improvement.
As for officiating, he says: “it’s never been better.”
Goodell addressed those topics and more, including the Washington Commanders’ investigation, flex scheduling and international play in his annual Super Bowl news conference Wednesday.
DeMeco Ryans became the NFL’s third Black head coach when Houston hired the former Pro Bowl linebacker and 49ers defensive coordinator. Ryans joined Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin and Tampa Bay’s Todd Bowles. There are three other minority coaches, including Miami’s Mike McDaniel, who has a Black father and identifies as biracial.
The Titans hired Ran Carthon, the league’s eighth Black general manager and ninth person of color overall.
“I still feel like there’s better work and more work ahead of us,” Goodell said. “I think there’s progress and we’re pleased to see progress but there’s never enough. We look to see how we can make things better.”
Player safety is always a hot topic in the NFL. Concussions were magnified and the league revised its protocols during the season after criticism for the way Tua Tagovailoa’s head injuries were handled.
The NFL announced last week concussions had increased by 18 percent during the regular season. Goodell attributed the rise to the updated diagnostic measures.
“I think that’s a reason why concussions went up this year, because we had a broader definition,” Goodell said. “If you have more evaluations you’re going to have more concussions. Any time we can change the protocols to make it safer for our players, we’re going to do that. We’re not afraid of having them diagnosed. That’s important to us and why we encourage players to come forward when they have symptoms so we can make sure they are handled properly.”
Overall, Goodell said injuries are down 6% this year. He said injuries for Thursday games and for the additional Week 18 games are no different than any other time during the season.
“You want to take the head out of the game,” Goodell said. “You’re always going to have contacts that are not intended, so that’s why we have protections, but ultimately you want to have rules that are avoiding the techniques that lead to these kinds of injuries.”
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith pointed out the league and the players’ union have, since 2009, instituted return to-play protocols, brought in sideline concussion experts, revamped health and safety standards and made it a requirement for team doctors to comply with all federal and state guidelines.
“This has been a relentless effort to constantly improve safety,” Smith said.
The NFL played its first regular-season game in Germany this season and five teams will play home games in Germany and London in 2023.
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Rob Maaddi, The Associated Press