NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke with James Brown before the Super Bowl to talk about the problems around the league, as well as the Super Bowl itself -- and his prediction (or lack thereof).
Goodell said the NFL are working with General Electric to further diagnostics on long-term brain injuries. How these injuries are monitored, and how the league will work post-injury. It's a joint-effort with $50 million behind it, and one that the league hopes will help the sport of football better understand how post-concussion syndrome affects players. 2012 was a year marred with head trauma issues, beginning with the suicide of linebacker Junior Seau, who was reportedly suffering from the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
There will be an unaffiliated doctor on the sidelines in NFL games to monitor team medical staff, offer input, and "better improve" the processes behind players with head injuries. Goodell addressed President Barack Obama's statement that he would have to think about letting a son of his play football. The commissioner said he welcomes the conversation, and wrote the President a letter about how the NFL is improving how the league handles head injuries, and the need to keep youth players safe wherever possible. He cited women's soccer as being the sport with the second-most concussion issues in youth sports. He said the NFL would work with all sports to better treat, and manage potentially chronic issues.
It was inevitable that the bounty scandal would rear its head, and this came in the form of Brown asking Goodell how the city had been to him since his arrival in New Orleans. The commissioner chuckled, clearly understanding what the question was getting at -- while explaining how the city was great, and that plenty of fans were welcoming him with open arms; he abstained from saying whether any of these football fans were New Orleans' Saints fans.
The last round of head coach and general manager hirings failed to net a single minority candidate, and while it's a contentious issue, Brown asked what the commissioner's stance on the Rooney rule was. He said there was a need for the league to see the next generation of the Rooney rule, and evolution of the league's current stance on minority hiring to see more candidates from minority background's in leadership roles around the NFL.
Finally the questions turned towards Sunday's game, and Goodell believes this will be a fantastic match-up, and a close game. He failed to give a true prediction on the Super Bowl, instead simply quipping that "the Harbaughs will win". It was a small moment of levity in an otherwise starkly serious conversation. He said these two teams are a reflection of the 2012 season and its level of competition.
There wasn't too much new in Sunday's interview. Instead focusing on questions that were sure to be asked, and getting answers that were somewhat predicted. It was pre-recorded, so there wasn't much room for error on either side -- but Goodell said the right things, and it seems the NFL has a plan to address its biggest issues in 2013 and beyond.