NFL commissioner Roger Goodell conducted a lecture at the University of North Carolina on Wednesday, and once again, the focus was on player safety and the future of the NFL.
Goodell reiterated the importance of player safety and making changes to the current landscape of the sport in order to preserve its future. Goodell said throughout history, football has evolved and become safer and better, and the future of the sport relies on the ability to continue to do so. When it comes to the priority of the league, Goodell made it clear what comes first.
"The rule in our league is very simple: medical decisions override everything else," Goodell said, via Will Brinson of CBS Sports.
Head injuries and concussions have been one of the main areas of focus in recent years, and Goodell said the league can and must do more to make football safer. He said the league will find ways to take the head out of the game, noting the helmet should not be used as a weapon. The NFL changed the kickoff rule two seasons ago in an effort to reduce concussions, and Goodell said the result has been a 40-percent reduction in the number of concussions over the last two seasons. Goodell said changing the culture is another key, as players need to know it's alright to admit injury and get proper medical treatment.
Goodell has often been criticized for claiming to focus on player safety while also pushing for an 18-game regular season schedule. He was asked about a potential longer schedule on Wednesday, and once again, the focus was on player safety.
"If we can't do it safely, we're not going to do it," Goodell said, via Brinson.