Published January 13, 2015
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held his annual state of the league address Friday in advance of Super Bowl XLVII, and the continued vigilance regarding player health and safety was one of the many topics he discussed.
Goodell pledged to "pioneer new approaches to player health and safety, and emphasize prevention as well as treatment." He said the competition committee will look at "eliminating certain dangerous, low blocks, further taking the head out of the game, and expanding the standards for the quality of our playing fields."
Goodell also stated that neurosurgeons will be added to game-day medical staffs and revealed plans to implement expanded physicals at the end of each season, reviewing players from a physical, mental and life skills standpoint.
In a related matter to player safety, Goodell continued to advocate escalated discipline for players who repeatedly dole out illegal hits.
He wants hits with a greater risk of causing injury removed from the game and is not backing down from his stance.
"I think we're going to have to continue to see discipline escalate, particularly on repeat offenders," he said. "It's not just the defenseless player that's being protected, it's the person doing the striking.
"Suspension gets through to them."
Considering the Super Bowl is being played in New Orleans, the Saints' bounty scandal -- not surprisingly -- was also brought up during the press conference.
"There is no question that there was a bounty program in place for three years," Goodell said. "I think that is bad for the players, for the game, and I think the message is incredibly clear and I don't believe bounties are going to be part of football going forward. That's good for everybody,"
Other items Goodell touched on included:
- The "next generation" of the Rooney Rule after none of this offseason's eight head coaching jobs and seven general manger positions were filled by minorities. "The results this year were simply not acceptable."
- His hopefulness that there will be testing for human growth hormone before the 2013 season begins.
- The continued reevaluation of the season's structure.
- He indicated that next year's Super Bowl in New Jersey will "undoubtedly" determine whether cold-weather sites will host future Super Bowls.