NFL Votes To Require Knee, Thigh Pads By '13; NFLPA Opposes Unilateral Rule ChangePublished May 23, 2012
THINKING LONG TERM: Goodell yesterday insisted that the discipline he imposed as part of the Saints' bounty program "was in 'the best interests of the game long-term,' while acknowledging the harsh punishments have made him a villain in the Big Easy." Goodell said, "You are going to make decisions that are not going to be unanimous. ... What I have to do is what is in the best interest of the game long-term, and recognize not everyone is necessarily going to agree with your decisions. But be thoughtful, be fair and try to reach a conclusion that I think is going to be in the best interest of the game long-term" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 5/23). Goodell also said yesterday that he "expected to eventually make public the evidence the league has gathered" showing that Saints players took part in a pay-to-injure program. The N.Y. TIMES' Battista noted Goodell "had no comment on the defamation lawsuit against him filed last week" by Saints LB Jonathan Vilma, who has been suspended for a year. Goodell said that he "did not expect that case to hold up the players’ appeals of their suspensions." Goodell added that the league "was waiting for arbitrators to rule on the union’s appeal of the suspensions -- which challenges Goodell’s right to discipline the Saints in the matter -- before hearing the player appeals." He said that he "did not take personally the lawsuit or statements by other Saints players indicating that they believed the team was being railroaded by the league" (NYTIMES.com, 5/22). SPORTING NEWS' Vinnie Iyer wrote there is "no win-win situation" regarding the bounty scandal, but Goodell "has only [one] winner in mind -- whatever's most important to maintaining the integrity of professional football." Iyer: "It's good the Commissioner has had recent experience in dealing with major challenges from the union, because he's dealing with quite a battle in the short term" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 5/22).
BOWL TALK: Goodell said yesterday that he "plans to speak again soon" to NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith about the future of the Pro Bowl. Goodell added that he "intends to make a decision shortly after having that conversation with Smith about whether the game will be played next year and beyond." Goodell: “We’ve had numerous discussions over several months about what we can do to make the game more competitive. ... And if we can’t improve it and if we can’t make it more competitive, then we shouldn’t play" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 5/22).
GO AHEAD AND BID: Goodell said yesterday that he would advise the city of Atlanta "to bid for another Super Bowl if a new stadium is built here," but he cautioned that the "competition would be tough." In Atlanta, Tim Tucker notes the city has "hosted two Super Bowls, in 1994 and 2000, and failed in subsequent bids for the game, in part because of the ice storm that virtually shut down the city" before the '00 event. However, the NFL "often awards the Super Bowl to new stadiums," and the Falcons and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority "have been in negotiations for more than a year about a new downtown stadium" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 5/23).
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