Roger Goodell's State of the NFL address leading up to the Super Bowl has become one of the tentpole events of the week throughout his tenure. The commissioner sits down and fields questions from the national media and touches on a wide array of topics. Over the years, this has been an opportunity to ask Goodell about the number of controversies that the league has been involved in and this year was no exception.
Below, you'll be able to read the main topics of discussion during Goodell's press conference and his answers to some of the league's biggest questions.
Brian Flores lawsuit
The NFL's initial statement to the Brian Flores lawsuit alleging racism in its hiring practice said that his claims were "without merit." Goodell later sent a memo to all 32 clubs saying there hasn't been enough to advance minority hirings. When asked about the initial response during his Wednesday press conference, Goodell said that it had to do with the "legal claims" instead of what Flores and others have endured during their careers.
"The initial reaction was regarding the legal claims themselves and not really the experiences of what Coach Flores was going through."— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) February 9, 2022
Roger Goodell on why the league initially called Brian Flores' legal claims to be 'without merit' before issuing a memo to teams. pic.twitter.com/DfIS9slXXP
"I think the initial reaction was regarding the legal claims themselves," said Goodell. "And not what we would say the experiences of what Coach Flores were going through. That's what I'm more interested in. I put the legal claims and the legal process to the side and that'll be handled by lawyers. To me, it's more important for us to listen to [Flores] and understand what he and other coaches are going through, what our clubs are going through and what feedback they have and also reevaluate everything we're doing.
"Let's see. Are we making mistakes that we subconsciously are doing? Or didn't think it was a mistakes? We have to be open to every one of those."
Dolphins offering money Flores to lose games
One of the major side stories to Flores' lawsuit was the accusation that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 per loss during the 2019 season to better the team's draft position. When asked about that situation, Goodell said that he found all the allegations in Flores' suit "very disturbing." He also added that the "integrity of the game is very important" and the league will deal with this claim "very seriously."
Along the lines of this topic, Goodell was asked if the NFL owners had the power to vote out another owner. To that he answered: "I do believe that the clubs do have the authority to remove an owner from the league."
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Lack of minority head coaching hires in the NFL
Goodell addressed the lack of minority hiring in the head coaching cycle this year at the top of his presser and emphasized that the league has been able to get Black coaches and other minorities in the room for an interview, but they are looking to go a step further.
"They are getting into the room and they are getting the interviews," Goodell said. "What we want to see is the outcomes. We want to see Black head coaches in the NFL and coaches of people of color, and eventually gender. We think that it is all important, so we have an inclusive process and hopefully and inclusive outcome."
The commissioner was later pressed on this topic by CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones and asked about plans to address racism and bias from team owners.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tells @jjones9 of @CBSSports about plans to address racism and bias from team owners: "We won't tolerate racism. We won't tolerate discrimination. If there are policies that we need to modify, we're going to do that. We will absolutely do it." pic.twitter.com/rodG05jocS— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 9, 2022
"We won't tolerate racism," he said. "We won't tolerate discrimination. If there are policies that we need to modify, we're going to do that. We will absolutely do it."
Goodell reiterated that the NFL will be conducting the independent investigation of Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder following allegations of sexual harassment from Tiffani Johnston rather than that team itself. Goodell added that he does "not see a way that a team can do an investigation of itself."
"We'll obviously do an investigation," said Goodell. "We need to understand what really, truly happened."
"We need to understand what really, truly happened"— Scott Abraham (@Scott7news) February 9, 2022
Roger Goodell saying that the NFL will begin it's own investigation into Tiffani Johnston's allegations of sexual harassment against team owner Dan Snyder.
He would not commit, however, to the findings being released publicly. pic.twitter.com/1hn8qRSF3f
Goodell also told reporters that the NFL did not make a deal with Snyder that would require his approval to release any reports to the public.
Denver Broncos sale
Goodell was asked for a status update regarding the sale of the Denver Broncos. The commissioner says he would expect the franchise to be sold before the start of the 2022 season.
He also said that he has been in touch with media mogul Byron Allen, who has stated he'll make a bid for the team "a couple of times" as the NFL looks to diversify ownership group.
"We would love to see a diverse owner of the team," said Goodell. "Whether that's a person of color, or a female, or a Black man, we think that would be a really positive step for us. And something we've encouraged. And one of the reasons we've reached out to find candidates who can do that.
"There is no timetable. The Denver Broncos are selling the team, not the NFL. We would have approval rights but I think we'll be very clear, and we have already with the Broncos that is something we certainly would seek to have in the ownership group."
Deflategate data being destroyed
A new report from Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio in his upcoming book Playmakers notes that the NFL, specifically general counsel Jeff Pash, ordered the data collected during the 2015 season to be expunged. The book details that the data from those spot checks of the PSI during that season would have been consistent with the football the Patriots used during the AFC Championship against the Colts that sparked the saga, thus distorting initial allegations of wrongdoing.
When asked why the league decided to destroy that data instead of bring it to the public, Goodell said he did not know what happened.
Bills stadium negotiations
Goodell did complement New York governor Kathy Hochul and said he's been "encouraged by the progress that's being made" by the Buffalo Bills in their negotiations with the state to finance a new stadium.
"The bottom line on it is we have to get a new stadium in Buffalo," Goodell said, via The Buffalo News. "The governor has recognized that. It's got to be a public-private partnership. All parties are going to have to work together. That means the state, the county, the team and the NFL to be able to achieve that."
NFL's international plans in 2022
Goodell announced that Munich will host a game in 2022 and there will be a total of four games in Germany over the next four years. Two of those will be in Munich and the others will be in Frankfurt.
The commissioner also added that there will be a game in Mexico this coming season.