Roger Goodell says NFL will 'absolutely' exist in 30 years

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

NEW ORLEANS -- As part of CBS' Super Bowl Sunday blowout, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared on Face of the Nation with Bob Schieffer and was asked about the future of the league and how it would handle player safety moving forward.

Goodell, who was joined on stage by CBS Sports analysts Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Shannon Sharpe, said he "absolutely" believes the NFL will be around in 30 years. He also said he would "absolutely" let his son -- if he had one -- play football.

"Absolutely," Goodell said. "I have twin daughters just like the President and I'm concerned when they play any sport."

Goodell went on to lament the dangers of women's soccer before Schieffer turned attention to the future of football.

"Absolutely. I couldn't be more optimistic about it," Goodell said when asked if the NFL would exist in 30 years. "The game of football always evolves. Throughout the decades we've always made changes to our game to make it safer for the players and more exciting for the fans."

Ravens safety Bernard Pollard recently told CBSSports.com's Clark Judge he believed the game would cease to exists within 30 years. Those comments drew tons of attention and were the impetus for Schieffer asking Goodell about the future.

But the reason Schieffer asked Goodell about player safety -- and he did an excellent job pushing the commissioner for an answer he wouldn't provide -- is easy. It's what people are talking about these days because it's a major concern. Goodell echoed what he said at his press conference earlier in the week, saying the NFL would do what was necessary to make the appropriate changes.

He wouldn't, however, acknowledge a link between concussions and the NFL.

"That's why we're investing in the research," Goodell said. "So we can answer the question -- what is the link? What causes the injuries some of our players are dealing with?"

Schieffer pressed Goodell to acknowledge a link. He did not.

"Well, Bob, again, we're going to let the medical individuals make those points," Goodell said.

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There's not much Goodell can say about that. If he acknowledges a link on one of the nation's oldest and most revered television shows, he kind of sinks his battleship with respect to the various lawsuits the NFL is facing. And if he says no, well, Goodell would look delusional. In that sense he handled the questions well.

He was adamant, however, that the league never hid the dangers of concussions and head injuries from players.

"No," Goodell said. "In fact we're all learning more about brain injuries. We're learning more and more and investing more and more."

We certainly are. And even though there's still a long way to go before we find the right balance between enjoying football and protecting players, the league is making strides. The NFL partnered with General Electric (Goodell mentioned this with Schieffer, too) and the NFLPA donated $100 million to Harvard to help study player safety.

It's progress, and it's why Goodell will end up being correct about the future of the NFL.

 
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