NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the media on Friday during his annual press conference before the Super Bowl. After a dramatic NFL season, Goodell fielded questions on several key issues from the new personal conduct policy and domestic violence to potential franchise moves and DeflateGate.
Rachel Nichols of CNN again stole the show, throwing Goodell the toughest question of the day. Nichols asked Goodell about the NFL's conflict of interest in paying investigators, such as Robert Mueller and Ted Wells, to look into league problems and make recommendations for resolving them.
Clearly rattled, Goodell accused Nichols of making "assumptions" with her question and defended the league's outside investigators' reputations as well as the league's decision to pay them for their time. He did not address Nichols' question concerning the perception of a conflict of interest or credibility gap in how the NFL handles those situations.
Nichols also asked about the conflict of interest of using Mueller, whose law firm negotiated the league's deal with DirecTV, as a supposed third-party independent investigator back in September.
The commissioner towed his standard line from this season, telling the media: "It has been a tough year on me personally, a year of humility and learning. It's an opportunity for us to get better."
Looking back at the Ray Rice incident and the criticisms on the NFL's poor handling and understanding of domestic violence issues, Goodell said he has learned quite a bit this year, especially after visiting domestic violence shelters. "This commissioner understands this issue a lot better today," he said.
He also addressed Marshawn Lynch's posture toward the media and remarked that it's part of Lynch's job to be available to reporters. "It may not be at the top of his list, but everyone else is cooperating ... There are a lot of things we don't like about our jobs, but it comes with the territory," said Goodell.
When asked about the potential of teams moving to Los Angeles, Goodell confirmed teams are interested, but said that the NFL wants to keep all teams in their current markets. He also added, "There have been no determinations of us going to Los Angeles." That's interesting given that St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has purchased land with plans to build an 80,000-seat stadium. The commissioner did not directly address Kroenke's stadium proposal in Los Angeles specifically, despite being asked about it. He also failed to mention anything about the league being briefed on Kroenke's California stadium plans in December, as reported by Albert Breer of the NFL Network.
The only news to come out of Goodell's annual press conference was when he said that the league was going to hire a Chief Medical Officer to help oversee player safety and the league's medical policies. Goodell also mentioned the NFL has pledged $45 million to youth football to teach safe tackling techniques.
In other news bits, Goodell dismissed any idea of NFL expansion or relocation to Las Vegas at present, while also saying the league hoped to play a game in Mexico soon.