On meeting with Ndamukong Suh and his reaction to Suh’s
actions on Thanksgiving Day:
Roger Goodell: Ndamukong came in
voluntarily. He wanted to understand the rules. He wanted to meet with
our staff to understand what he was doing and what we were focused on and understand the process. It was a very productive meeting. His head
coach came in, the club president came in and I believe that it was productive. I was a little disappointed obviously on Thanksgiving Day
because I don’t think that’s what Ndamukong Suh is all about. I spoke
to him three or four days later and I believe he wants to be a great
player in this league. I believe he wants to play within the
rules and I am supportive of that.
On Suh being a good guy but not being able to control himself
on the field:
RG: You have to learn how to control that.
It’s a tough game. It’s a fast game, but when you’re on that field, you
have to be responsible for what you’re doing and play in control.
On his reaction to the Cleveland Browns playing Colt McCoy after possibly sustaining a concussion:
RG: I think that anyone who saw that hit
would immediately think that he needs to be examined from a
neurological stand point. Fortunately as we’ve gone through
it and try to gather all the facts, the doctors and trainers that were
on the Browns sidelines were attending to other players and did not
actually see the hit. When they went out, they weren’t aware of the
severity of the hit. That’s something that we have to reevaluate in our
process and get right because a player should not be going in without a
neurological exam when you see a hit like that.
On the forthcoming review process and making changes to avoid
RG: It’s just not forthcoming. We’ve all
ready started it. We’ve had a team of people in Cleveland this week.
We’ve had several conference calls this week, including myself for four
hours yesterday, evaluating what can we do to make sure that our
processes will protect from that happening again and anything else
where a player is injured and should get proper care. We want to make
sure that happens. That’s one of the keys. One of the things
that we want to do is make sure someone, a medical professional, has
his eyes on the field at all times and can see when an injury occurs to
somebody so the proper medical care is being given.
On James Harrison suspension and if he will start to play by
RG: That’s the bottom line. James Harrison is a
great football player but our rules apply to all 2,000 players and all
32 teams. Players conform to those rules. The rules are established and
enforced. I think that he has the ability to adapt to the game and he
has shown that he is a tremendous athlete and other players have also.
That’s the history, this is not new in our game. We’ve always had
changes in our rules. We’ve identified techniques that need to be
removed from the game because we think that they are unsafe for player
safety. That has been changed and players have adapted.
On him still being convinced that players can change their
style of play even after players say they cannot:
RG: Individuals are going to have to adapt
as they can. Certain people have certain abilities on the field. Some
may not be able to adapt but the fact is that the rules apply to all 32
teams and every player. We’re not going to adapt those rules to
On if he will meet with James Harrison again about his play:
RG: He was in last fall. He had his
hearing earlier this week with Ted Cottrell. That was done
independently and I believe they’re issuing a decision this morning.
On having any difficult moments throughout the labor talks:
RG: Sure there’s dark moments. There were
times when you’re frustrated because you weren’t able to reach an
agreement. Clearly, March 11th was probably the most frustration
because we thought we were making progress after several weeks in
mediation. We failed. Both parties failed. We went back and moved
toward litigation. I think the critical moment was when we got back
away from all the noise, all the litigation and we got the principles
together for dinner in late May. Five players, five owners, DeMaurice
Smith and myself and we had dinner with no discussion of the issues at
hand. We learned where we were coming from and there was a level of
trust, respect that started at that point in time, and then spent two
more days talking about the issues. We hit a series of those meetings
that brought us back to saying, “We are all in this for the good of the
game.” The owners respect the players. The players respect the owners
and that was the foundation I think that allowed us to get back to an
agreement. Eventually, we got it back to collective bargaining and we
were able to reach an agreement and save the season. I think that’s
great for everybody, most importantly for our fans.
On where they are in the HGH process and if he is optimistic
that they will reach an agreement on HGH:
RG: I do think that we’ll get there. We
agreed to it in the collective bargaining agreement. We want to make
sure that we answer the players’ questions. All of us want a valid
test. We think it exists. We want to get the players comfortable with
that. We are, after several years that test has existed and been used
in other sports – most prominently with the Olympics. We think that
it’s time. We think that this is important for the players for their
health and safety because HGH is illegal. It’s illegal for a reason.
Second of all, people are using products that are coming off the black
market and who knows what they are injecting themselves with. We think
that we’ve got to get this issue addressed and the best way to do that
is with a good testing program.
On him being mindful that the players may be stalling to get
HGH out of their system:
RG: I don’t think that’s the reason. In
fact, one of the challenges with HGH testing is that it clears your
system very quickly, in fact, potentially within 48 hours, 72 hours
after the injection. I don’t think that’s the case. I think there are
legitimate concerns with the testing. I think the drawing of blood is
different than our current testing program and those are issues that
the union has asked about. We think that there is an answer. We think
WADA has a program that’s been accepted by scientists on a worldwide
basis. We think that it’s time.
On seeing anything like Tebow mania:
RG: Obviously, our fans have reacted to it. He
deserves it. I don’t make predictions about who is a great quarterback and who is not a great quarterback. There is something special about
him. The way he inspires that team, the way they all lift at the right time and they come together. They overcome. That’s a great thing about
the game of football and the great thing about individual performances like Tim Tebow.
Courtesy: NFL Media and CBS Sports. Interview conducted 12/19/11