“Good afternoon. On behalf of the NFL, welcome to Super Bowl 51. We’re happy to be here in Houston and there are a few ‘Thank Yous’ I would like to start with. To begin, the city of Houston, Mayor (Sylvester) Turner, the Host Committee, all of the officials here in Houston, you’ve done an incredible job preparing for this. We’re excited to be here, and I know you’re going to shine as the Super Bowl week continues. To (Owner of the Houston Texans) Bob McNair, who I see over here and his family, and the Texans, we wouldn’t be here without your leadership. This is a great accomplishment to host the Super Bowl and it’s a tribute to you, so thank you for that. And to the thousands of volunteers and this great community in general, you can feel the enthusiasm, you can feel the way we’re being embraced here in this community and we thank you for that. We’re even seeing it in the first few days at Super Bowl Live and the NFL Experience where we’re seeing record numbers, over 250,000 people in the first few days and well on pace to exceed a million people attending these events. We hope the people of Houston will attend and get a chance to experience a little bit of the Super Bowl.
“And congratulations to these two incredible teams, the (New England) Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. Extraordinary seasons, and we had an incredibly competitive season. In fact, maybe one of the most competitive seasons in the history of the NFL. By average margin of victory, it was just slightly over 10 points a game, which is the lowest since 1935, when I believe we averaged about 24 points versus our 46 now. We also had a record number of games decided within a seven-point margin. All adding to the excitement of the season. But also, more and more of a tribute to the two great teams, the Patriots and the Falcons, that we have in the Super Bowl. They were dominant through the season, but particularly dominant throughout the postseason, and no one can argue that these two teams are the most deserving and the ones that should be here. The number-one defense in the NFL versus the number-one offense. It’s going to be a great matchup, and I wish both teams well.
“Finally, let me thank our great fans for their support all year long. They make the difference for us. They’re the reason why we do what we do, and I know they’re the ones that inspire our teams. So, thank you for all your support. I’m happy to take your questions.”
The Raiders started the approval process to move to Las Vegas, though the latest news seems to put that situation in peril. Is the NFL confident that Las Vegas remains a viable location for the Raiders? And after decades of avoiding or opposing gambling, do the owners and league officials believe that legalized gambling and the NFL can coexist?
“In your first question, we hadn’t made a determination about Las Vegas as an NFL market. That’s part of the relocation process. The Raiders submitted an application. It’s one that we’re considering carefully, but there is a great deal of work to be done and there are several elements of that. Financing of the stadium is just one. Obviously, the stadium project itself, the depth of the market, all of those are things that we’ve studied over the last several months, but that will increase in intensity over the next month or so as we move forward in that process. A second, as it relates to whether gambling can coexist with the NFL. In fact, it does. It’s happening today. It’s sponsored by governments. It exists throughout our world. What we have always said is we need to make sure that there’s a fine line between team-sports gambling and the NFL. We want to protect the integrity of our game, and that’s the line we will always do.”
You offered President [George H.W.] Bush a chance to toss the coin; has he accepted?
“Yes, President Bush 41, and Mrs. Bush. I approached them in December, and they were very enthusiastic about wanting to participate. We’re honored to have them. Obviously, you all know that both of them have had a little bit a setback health-wise recently, but I’ve heard from both of them and they’re excited and anxious to be here. As I said, we’re honored to have them. It’s going to be a great way to start the game.”
Last summer, Texans’ Owner Bob McNair said of Deflategate, we all have allowed it to become a mountain out of a molehill, and last week, Robert Kraft said to Peter King that you got bad advice from people around you, and the league didn’t handle it well. What is your reaction to those comments, and in hindsight, do you think you got bad advice about how you handled Deflategate?
“No, we had a violation. We went through a process. We applied the discipline in accordance with our process. It was litigated as you know, extensively, and validated by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. So, we’re moving on from that. That’s part of our history, but it’s something that we’re comfortable with the process, the decision, and as I said, we’re focusing on the game now.”
After the great success that the NFL had this season in the game in Mexico City between the Raiders and the Houston Texans, will the NFL go back next season to Mexico?
“Yes. We had a great experience last year. The Texans and the Raiders, we couldn’t have asked for a better reception from our fans in Mexico. We always envisioned that it would be more than a one-year commitment. We’re going to come back next season. The Raiders and the Patriots will be playing there next season.”
For the past 20 years, I’ve asked the question, ‘When will Los Angeles be getting an NFL team?’ And now, I’m tempted to ask, ‘When will Los Angeles stop getting NFL teams?’ Just following on Barry’s question, though, you detailed the process in the coming weeks about evaluating the Las Vegas market. Are you confident that you can complete that evaluation in time for the vote in the March meetings, and I’d also ask, if Las Vegas were to fall through, could San Diego be the viable option for the Raiders?
“Well, a couple things. One, we are confident that our process is thorough, that it will examine all of the issues that need to be examined to make the best possible decision from the ownership. If for some reason, we can’t complete that by March, we’ll deal with that, but the ultimate objective here is to the make the right decision. I’ve said it many times before, relocations are painful, and you want to be intelligent, you want to be thorough and you want to make sure that we do it with a great deal of sensitivity. We want to make sure that we’re doing what’s in the best, long-term interest of the NFL. So, we will see on timing, but we have been working on this over the last couple months, analyzing this, but we have now more information, and we’ll have to get more information to go forward. The second part of your question, just so I’m clear? (Reporter: San Diego.) San Diego. Listen, and I’ve made this clear before, we were disappointed to have to leave San Diego. We couldn’t get a stadium done. As you know, we had a referendum just last November that did not pass by the voters, and I think for any team to relocate to San Diego at this point in time, we’re going to have to find a solution to that stadium problem, one that we couldn’t do after probably 15 years of effort. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future. In fact, there is a history of markets that get these projects done once a team leaves. That’s unfortunate, because I think it’s a painful way to do it, but this is something that we obviously would work toward, but we’re moving forward at this point.”
You noted and said several times relocation is a painful process. I think you said a couple weeks ago in Ingelwood that we’re all hurting over the Chargers leaving us. I’m hoping you could reconcile that with how enticing you made it for the Chargers to go to Los Angeles. The owners, a year ago, made it pretty easy. Is there anything the NFL can do better to have prevent the Chargers from leaving, or any other team?
When you say we made it enticing for them to move to Los Angeles, I would actually argue the exact opposite. The NFL owners did something that was unprecedented, which they gave another $100 million on top of the $200 million, so a total of $300 million, to help build the stadium in San Diego. That had never been done before, never been offered before. So, I think we worked very hard as a membership and as a league, and as Dean Spanos and his family in San Diego, to try to get that done, to try to be creative and try to learn solutions to getting the stadium built. So, obviously, when we made our decision on the Rams relocating back to Los Angeles last year, the Chargers made the decision, despite having the option to move to Los Angeles, to say, ‘We want to stay one more year. We want to try to make this work. Let’s give this another shot.’ The referendum failed. There were a lot of other efforts in addition to that, but that’s disappointing for all of us, because we didn’t get it done. The answer to whether we can do things better and different – absolutely, always. We will always strive to do that, and if there is a better way we can accomplish these, but as you know, this is not a new issue. This isn’t something that came up a year ago or three years ago or five years ago. This is probably 15 years of an inability to get a stadium done, and we will all take a share of responsibility of that.”
You recently said on a national radio show that if the Raiders move was approved by owners, you would not compromise any of the League’s values. Were you referencing gambling and would you or the ownership be opposed to a casino having partial or full ownership either in a team or a stadium?
“We’ve always said we are going to maintain the integrity of our game by making sure there is a separation between sports, gambling and the NFL. That is something we think is imperative for us. We want our fans to know the game they are seeing unfold on the field does not have any undue influence. We recognize gambling occurs out in marketplaces. I said that in the first answer. But this is something from our standpoint we have rules that are in place. The Raiders have not asked for us to compromise those rules as it relates to our policies. We will continue to have that separation going forward. I don’t see an ownership position in a team from a casino. That is not something consistent with our policies. Not likely a stadium either.”
Tom Brady Sr. was highly critical and was personally insulted by you in the last week. You have not been in Foxboro in the past two years since the Deflategate investigation. Your explanation strains all credibility that you needed to be in Atlanta two weeks in a row. It appears that you were avoiding Foxboro. The Patriots are here in this game. Back home, it feels like there is still a war between the Patriots, their fans and you. How would you characterize this situation and is it not awkward?
“I would tell you that it is not awkward at all for me. We have a job to do. We do our job, as I said, there was a violation. We applied a process and discipline, and we came to a conclusion that was supported by the facts and by the courts. So from our standpoint, we understand when fans who are loyal and passionate for a team object and don’t like the outcome, I totally understand that. That’s not an issue for me. I was in Boston two seasons ago for two consecutive playoff games, the same way I was in Atlanta this year. So that happens. From our standpoint, this is just about making sure that we take care of business and do it the way that is right to uphold the integrity of our teams and our rules for all 32 teams. If I am invited back to Foxboro, I will come.”
The union has said it is preparing a proposal that would take a less punitive approach to recreational marijuana use by players, obviously you made some steps in the drug policies with regard to marijuana use in 2014, but also the league stance has sometimes been tied to the federal prohibition and also waiting for more advice from the medical advisors, are you willing to take meaningful steps if the Union does propose that?
“As you point out, they haven’t made a proposal. We certainly haven’t seen it. I read it in the paper also and I’ve spoken to (Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association DeMaurice Smith) about it. But I think what it’s signaling, from our standpoint, is that the labor agreement we have has worked incredibly well for the players, for our clubs and for I think the game in general. It’s encouraged investment. We see the salary cap, which may be projected to increase by $15 million a club, in the last four years alone, the salary cap has jumped almost $1.7 billion including benefits. That’s extraordinary and historically has never come close to being achieved before. So what we have is a labor agreement that is working well for all parties. But we sent the union last spring, several pages or lists of issues that we wanted to address as the league and as ownership and I expect – and we put on that list drug policy as one of those issues – so we would love to engage, but I think what we’re seeing is a reason why we should all sit down and get at the table, begin negotiations so that if we want to reach a different policy on either the drug policy or any other matter, we can all begin that earlier and do it in a way that’s responsible.”
One quick fact check, the courts didn’t uphold the investigation. It upheld your right to go ahead and do what you did –
“If you look at the Second Circuit Court, the decision that they set, they said there are compelling, if not overwhelming, facts here and that’s the point that I just made.”
From prominent players within the league, to fan bases in San Diego, St. Louis, New England, to the media, there seems to be an erosion of public trust in you and your office, do you acknowledge that and is there any way you would go about repairing that if you would even seek to do so?
“The thing that you have to always do every day is earn that trust, earn that credibility and it’s by how you act and how you do things. Be transparent, making sure people understand the decisions you make. I don’t expect for one second for people to agree with every decision I make or we make as a league. Those are always difficult, sometimes contentious, and sometimes less than perfect decisions, but you do them in the best interest of long-term health of the game and the NFL and I think we do that. We always seek to do things better, I will always seek to do things better and that’s how we’ll continue to operate and if we can do if differently, we’ll do it differently.”
The NFL sponsors the ‘Fuel Up to Play 60’ program – thanks for that by the way – what plans does the NFL have to continue promoting and supporting health and wellness in the next generation?
“You and I talked about this in Kansas City a few weeks ago. I’m a father of twin daughters who are just a little bit older than you – they’re 15 – we believe very much in having our kids be active and healthy and to live a healthy lifestyle, and the Play 60 program was our way along with the players, our clubs and the league to make sure we encourage that in our communities and our schools. And so the leadership that you’re providing in your school and others are doing I think leads to a better generation. A generation that thinks better, achieves higher levels of success and frankly lives a higher quality of life. So for us, we’re not going to relent on that. We think it’s something that is authentic to who we are and what we do.”
Last year here you expressed continued concerns about the Titans ownership structure. Jerry Jones and John Mara have both said that they have no such concerns. Does the league continue to have an issue? What is it specifically? Amy Adams Strunk has been in control for nearly two years now – when can we expect the team and the league to resolve it?
“The issue that we’ve had over the last couple of years was a designation of who was going to represent the club. That has changed to some extent over the last couple of years. The fundamental aspect of our policy is to make sure that we have an individual who has the ultimate authority over that franchise and can make those decisions, including league-level decisions as well as locally, and it’s clear. It’s clear to the ownership group and it’s also clear to the membership, so that is the issue that the committee has been addressing. They have been in violation in the past. I am hopeful that we’re getting to the point where that is going to be resolved once and for all.”
Have they been fined a second time?
“They have not been fined a second time. They were fined once.”
(Inaudible follow-up question on Titans ownership)
“That’s for the ownership to tell us is that they have full control. It is not for the membership to determine that. It’s the membership and the committees to determine have they taken the necessary steps where she has full control.”
There seemed to be a national discussion this year on falling ratings, some tied to the election obviously, some not. I noticed, late in the season, there were some changes to broadcast, in game commercials for instance – what in game adjustments are you and the competition committee willing to make to help make the game more watchable? Things like play clock, official conferences, anything in that realm.
“We have been focused on this long before this year. In fact, a year and a half ago when we had the over the top game with Yahoo, we actually took commercial inventory out to try to address this. What we’re trying to do is to make our product as exciting and our games as exciting and as action-packed as possible. So it comes on various different levels for us and we have not dismissed any theories about how we can continue to engage our fans more extensively either on television or in the stadium. That’s what we do and that’s what we work towards all the time. In respect to what the specifics we can do, we’re going to have the competition committee focusing on several issues. One is, on instant replay, would we bring the Surface tablet to the sideline to try to speed that process up so they could make a decision more quickly, and resume the game as quickly as possible so we don’t have unnecessary delays? Would we look at a clock that would occur from the moment an extra point is kicked to the kickoff so that we don’t have unnecessary delays, getting the teams onto the field so there could be a play clock that would essentially dictate when the teams would have to be prepared for the kickoff? We’re going to look at a number of other changes in the way we manage the game, whether we make announcements on replay before the replay starts or whether we just go and do the replay. So there are a number of things where we think we can shorten the management of the game, focus less on stoppages of the game and more on action. From a commercial standpoint, we did test in Week 16 and we did test in the Yahoo! game last year, we want to look at should we have the same number of breaks? We have five breaks per quarter. We think we can do it in four breaks per quarter. That is something that we’re leaning very heavily into. That’s not a competition committee issue but it’s an issue with our membership and our broadcast partners. We see opportunities to do that and maybe we remove some of the stoppages as well as some of the commercialized aspects of the game. We think less is more in this area and we can do it with the right balance that will improve the quality of the experience in the stadium or also on television. That’s what we’re focusing on so I expect to see a lot of those changes this offseason.”
Could less also be more when it comes to Thursday Night Football? What’s the future of Thursday Night Football and how does social media play a part of the league moving forward?
“Thursday Night Football is something that we are very committed to. Thursday Night Football ended up being the number-two rated show on all of primetime on NBC this year and number four on CBS. So we see our fans reacting positively to that. There is a lot of discussion about the safety of the game, but we have seen absolutely no indications that there is any further risk of injuries, and injury rates are actually slightly lower on Thursday night than they are on Sunday. When it relates to the quality of the game, we’ve seen that be incredibly positive also. We’ve seen less turnovers. We’ve seen less penalties on almost every aspect of what you would say the quality of the game. We’ve seen high quality football on Thursday night. We put all 32 teams on there. That’s something we did. We are thinking about whether we reevaluate that and maybe don’t have quite the number of teams and maybe even change the staggering of our Thursday night games so you have consecutive games on CBS, consecutive games on the NFL Network and then consecutive games on NBC. We’ve heard from our fans a great deal, ‘Where is the game? We want to know where the game is.’ So we are going to look at all of that, and continue to work on something that we think has gotten off to an incredible start and we are very optimistic about the future on that.”
This week the popular, if at times provocative, sports media outlet, Barstool Sports, was barred from all Super Bowl activities. I’m wondering don’t you think any media outlet at all should be credentialed to come to the Super Bowl and don’t you risk perpetuating that the league you are running is the “No Fun League” when you ban an outlet that’s popular especially with young fans?
“I’m not familiar with this. I really don’t have any information about who is credentialed and who’s not credentialed. I’ll take your word for it. I assume there is a reason why a particular organization may not be credentialed to be here. I think you can see by looking around that we have pretty open arms about who attends the Super Bowl as a media outlet. I’ve never heard that in the context of ‘No Fun League.’ We hear it, obviously, as it relates to celebrations on the field. That is something we will look at in the offseason, but that is something we’ve been dealing with for well over 35 years that I’ve been in the league. In the same concept is balancing sportsmanship, avoiding taunting and trying to allow players the ability to express themselves in an exuberant way and to celebrate. We think that’s great. We want to see more of that. We want to see the players do that, but we want to see them do it respectfully to their teammates and their opponents.”
Do you see any path in the future where St. Louis could return to the NFL? Also, has the league – on any level – had any discussions with officials in Missouri or St. Louis on this subject?
“I had some conversations with your new governor in Missouri (Eric Greitens), but it was around the Kansas City playoff game where we had the inclement weather and dangerous weather, frankly, when we had to modify the kickoff time. So not about the stadium or what it would take to return as an NFL city. We have a lot of respect for the community, for the fans there, and if they want to engage in that, we would.”
For decades, the NFL has helped families from Mexico and the U.S. bond together, watch the games. I grew up watching NFL games with a Mexican father and American mom. Nowadays, what can the NFL do outside the field to help build a better relationship between Mexico and the U.S., and not necessarily build other things?
“One of the things that we truly believe in our hearts is that the NFL really does bond communities together and can be a bridge in that way. It unites people. We’re going to see it this weekend with the Super Bowl, where millions of people are going to tune in and they’re going to celebrate and they’re going to all forget about other things for at least a short period of time and really focus on having fun and being entertained by the Super Bowl. That’s something that we’re proud of, and by having the Patriots and Raiders play in Mexico next year, we hope that that very positive will show that we’re reaching out to our fans in Mexico, we’re reaching out to our Hispanic fans here in the United States. We’re going to continue to do those things. We think they’re positive and they can be helpful overall.”
(Inaudible follow-up question on the date of the 2017 Mexico City game)
“We haven’t decided that. I think right now we’re leaning toward a Sunday game on the basis that playing on Monday night on a holiday weekend – it was Thanksgiving week – it was difficult for the teams getting home that late at night on a short week. So, we’re reconsidering that and seeing if there’s a better alternative for our teams.”
You’ve been pretty outspoken about $25 billion as a revenue goal for you in the next decade. I’m curious, with another year under your belt, a better understanding of technology, media, consumption – if that’s getting easier to attain, or harder?
“I really haven’t been that outspoken on it. I’ve been asked about it. We all have goals, but our goals are much broader than that. Our goals are about how we continue to grow (and) how we continue to make this league more successful than it is, reach more people, continue to expand our business internationally. Yes, revenue growth is important, as it is, for our players, who share all of that. All of these things are important to us. That is not a singular goal for us. We believe that the changing media landscape is good for people that have high quality content, like the NFL. We believe in our content, we believe in the value of our content, and we believe that it can help technologies. We actually think that, that’s very much a positive in our long-term goals to continue to grow and be successful.”
You said a minute ago that if you’re invited back to Foxboro, you’d go. To the best of your knowledge, over the last month, have you been welcome in Foxboro?
“By whom? I’m not sure your question. I have no doubt that if I wanted to come up to a Patriots game, and I asked Mr. Kraft, he would welcome me back. That’s up to him, though.”
How has your relationship with the team changed over the last two years?
“Listen, we have a disagreement about what occurred. We have been very transparent about what we think the violation was (and) it went through a very lengthy process. We disagree about that. But, I continue to respect and admire Robert (Kraft), Jonathan (Kraft), and the entire organization. They are an extraordinary organization, and they’re extraordinary people. I have a very deep and close relationship to them, but that doesn’t change that we have to compartmentalize things that we disagree on. I’ll be honest with you; I have disagreements with probably all 32 of our teams. I’m not afraid of disagreement, and I don’t think that disagreement leads to distrust, or hatred, it’s just a disagreement. You take your disagreements, you find a common place and you move forward. That’s what it is. It’s not all personal nature – which I know people like to make it. But for us, it’s about making sure we do what’s right for the league long-term.”
I remember you stood up at the Super Bowl press conference last year and talked about how you wanted to have a two-strike ejection rule potentially, that was instituted on a one-year basis for unsportsmanlike conduct. Do you expect the owners to keep that and/or expand it to other fouls? And related to that, there was confusion among some players, such as Antonio Brown, about what exactly constitutes unsportsmanlike conduct in terms of celebration. Would you like to see the rules made more clear, perhaps instituting a strict two-pump limit?
“(Laughter) I haven’t really thought about that, that’s an interesting one. But, we always seek to clarify rules. The reason we put it in as a one-year experiment, we also did the same with our kickoff rule, is so that we can see what the impact is of the rule change. Both the intended impact and the unintended consequences of that. That’s something that we have done very successfully, very effectively. I think the unsportsmanlike conduct, two fouls, seems to be a very positive thing. We will look at it again through the competition committee, it will have to come up for another vote. If we modify it, that’s great, if we can clarify it and make it sharper. And the same with our kickoff rule. I think both of those will be looked at, as well as a number of other rule alternatives and proposals that we’ll have.”
Other sports leagues have clarified their position on the temporary ban on the refugees, for example, in the NBA. What is the league stance? Secondly, are you at all concerned that the political events unfurling are overshadowing the Super Bowl?
“We’re aware of the conversations that are going on and the division. As commissioner of the NFL I’m singularly focused on the Super Bowl right now. As I’ve said before, we have a unique position to have an event on Sunday that will bring the world together. They will have an opportunity to be entertained, feel good about what we’re doing and that’s something that we feel very proud of and it’s something that we’re going to continue to be focused on through this game.”
You’ve handed Tom Brady a lot of trophies, but then you saw him in court a lot. Since you haven’t been to Gillette (Stadium) all year, have you had a chance to talk to Tom at all this season?
“I never talk about whether, when I have conversations, who I have conversations with. If they want to disclose that, that’s their prerogative. But I think people, when we communicate, expect a level of confidence that I am not going to take that outside of the circle and that they can call or communicate and I can do the same with them without having to read it in the newspapers every time. So, I don’t disclose when I talk to players or communicate with them. I do it frequently. I get a lot of tremendous input from our players. I respect our players and their views. Anytime they call or anytime that they contact me, I listen carefully.”
Does the NFL have a plan in the future or a project to start a league or level up a league to help all of these players that aren’t quite in the NFL level, but they just need a push between college and the NFL?
“Yes, we’ve discussed at length the alternative, creating a developmental league. As you mentioned, NFL Europe served one aspect of that. But I think if we did it, we would be focusing exactly on that point, which is; the development of players, coaches, officials, trainers, other medical officials to try to expand on the number and the quality that are involved in our game. We have a debate that goes on this on several fronts with football people. Some of the coaches would prefer to go with an expanded practice squad roster and have them in the facilities and have them exposed to their system. Those are legitimate points of view and something that we consider very carefully. But, the developmental league is something that we’re actively considering.”
Where does the investigation stand on the Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott on his domestic violence situation, and when do you hope to have that completed?
“I am not putting any pressure on our investigators. We have highly trained, highly skilled investigators that are looking into this. We do not put timetables or pressures on them to make those decisions. We want them to be thorough. We want them to be fair and come to the right conclusion. So when they do, they will notify me and we’ll take it from there, but at this point, there is no timetable.”
What kind of message do you think the league is sending its fans that the Chargers were allowed to leave after 56 years in San Diego of great support, largely because the owner was not able to finance his own stadium and was relying on lots of public money and money from the league?
“As I said before, these are painful processes. It is hard on our fans. We understand that. It is not the outcome we were hoping for. We hoped to get an outcome where we could keep the Chargers there for another 50 years. A stadium, and I think you live in the community, it has taken quite a while to recognize a new stadium was needed, but I think every party in San Diego recognized a new stadium was necessary. The Spanos family, the NFL as a collective 32 clubs, all worked very hard. So it is a process that has to identify a solution that is good for the community as well as the team, so that they can obviously not only coexist, but benefit long term. We weren’t able to do that. I think it’s something that is a collective disappointment and a collective responsibility on all of us, and we have to work harder to try to avoid these things from happening in the future.”
Last media night – Monday night – numerous questions were asked from people in this room and others about the President of the United States. All of those questions and the answers were deleted or redacted from all the transcripts and the videos. Is the NFL or are you not comfortable with the idea of President Trump?
“I am not aware of anything being deleted from transcripts or anything else, so that’s not a …”
There is no mention of the President of the United States whatsoever anywhere, or in the videos
“I must tell you, that’s one thing I am not responsible for around here is the transcripts.”
Josh Brown, the former Giants kicker, gave an interview to ABC. It’s going to air tomorrow, and in that he said that the league is continuing its investigation into his domestic abuse case, that he would like an opportunity to return to the league. Is it true that the league, that investigation continues, and would you be open to a return to the league by Josh Brown if a team wanted to sign him? Additionally, in light of that case, the Ezekiel Elliott case you just addressed, how do you assess your current domestic violence policies’ ability to handle these situations compared to what it used to be?
“I think we’ve made very important progress, not only on domestic violence, but personal conduct policies in general. We’ve seen in the last two years since we implemented this policy 40 percent reduction each year, I believe, over the last two years in the number of arrests. That is still – every arrest we have is one too many, but the reality of it is the vast, vast majority of our players are extraordinary young men who do great things in their communities. The policy is there in hopes that we can help educate players, help them make better decisions going forward, transition in and out of the NFL more effectively and give them the tools to make the right decisions. We do have an active investigation on Josh Brown, what you know from last fall is that we didn’t have all the information from law enforcement. They released some of that at a later date. We now have that information and we will continue that investigation and until we have a final decision we won’t be making a decision about anyone’s eligibility on that front.”
With the Denver Broncos run by a group of trustees, instead of a single individual or ownership group, is there any concern on behalf of the league or the owners of their succession plan to Pat Bowlen, and is there a timetable for them to find a new owner?
“They have an owner, it’s Pat Bowlen. Unfortunately, he has significant health challenges right now. I worked with Pat directly, so I know he had set up a set up a system that was compliant with our rules, if such an unfortunate situation occurred. Pat is someone that I deeply admire and respect, so the trust has worked effectively in the short term, but it’s a decision at some point in time, that the membership will have to make. The finance committee and the broader membership of whether that’s compliant and whether any changes they can make beyond the trust will be consistent with our policies.”