Goodell: 'opportunity for us to get better'

Phoenix, AZ ( - Roger Goodell found himself often playing defense as he met with reporters two days prior to Super Bowl XLIX, with the ongoing deflate-gate controversy and questions about the Commissioner's own job performance dominating the discussion at his annual state of the league address.

Goodell acknowledged that the 2014 season, during which he's endured heavy public criticism for his handling of a number of league matters -- most notably the domestic violence case involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice -- "has been a tough year on me personally."

"It's been a year of humility and learning," he stated. "We obviously as an organization have gone through adversity. We take it seriously, It's an opportunity for us to get better.

"So we've all done a lot of soul searching, starting with yours truly."

Goodell was at one point asked if there were any set of circumstances that would lead him to resign, to which he firmly replied that he had no plans of doing so. Another media member questioned as to whether he deserved a pay cut over the league's recent travails, with Goodell saying his salary is decided by the 32 owners.

Allegations of perceived favoritism towards one of Sunday's participants, the New England Patriots, were also prevalent during Friday's 48-minute press conference.

One reporter asked the Commissioner if his close relationship with New England owner Robert Kraft could potentially impact the league's investigation over the Patriots' use of improperly deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game. Goodell attended a party at Kraft's residence shortly prior to the team's 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

"I admire, respect and think very highly of him on a personal level. There's no hiding from that point," said Goodell of Kraft. "Since he knows me so well and knows that I'm not going to do anything to compromise the integrity of the league, I think he has no doubt that I will do the right thing."

Goodell also responded to Kraft's recent statement that the league owed his team an apology if the current investigation, overseen by prominent attorney Ted Wells, finds that the Patriots did no wrongdoing.

"This is my job. It's my responsibility to protect integrity of the game," he remarked. "I represent 32 teams. If we have any information that rules were violated, I have to pursue that. We will do it vigorously and it is important for (the investigation) to be thorough and fair."

Goodell, making his first public comments on the deflate-gate flap, said that the investigation is focusing on two specific questions: "Why were some footballs used in the game that were not in compliance with the rules? And was this the result of deliberate action?"

"I want to emphasize we have made no judgments on these points, and we will not compromise the investigation by engaging in speculation," he continued.

Goodell also fielded inquiries about the NFL's future plans in London and Los Angeles, as well as ones pertaining to the long-term outlooks of a couple of franchises with present stadium issues -- specifically the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers.

"London has done not only everything we've expected but more," he said. "We're continuing to advance our interests over there by playing more games there. Their passion is obvious. We want to continue to respond to that fan interest."

Goodell said there have been no discussions with any particular teams about possible relocation to Los Angeles, with the league's preference to keep all franchises in their present locales.

As for forthcoming changes, the Commissioner announced that the league will be instituting a new position of Chief Medical Officer to oversee all of its health policies. Additionally, Goodell revealed that the competition committee will be looking at ways to change or eliminate the extra point.

Goodell said that expanding the playoffs now appears unlikely to happen in 2015. During the NFL's spring owners meetings back in May, he had stated that he believed a proposal to add two more teams to the postseason would be approved.