More Spin, Less Substance at State of the League Press Conference

On Friday NFL commissioner Roger Goodell presided over his annual State of the League press conference. The affair was broadcast live on ESPN and was attended by media members and several current and former NFL players. During the press conference, Goodell answered questions about such topics as marijuana being considered a viable treatment for concussions by the National Football League as well as the current system of fining players for on-field transgressions, the NFL’s failure to offer former players a lifetime of medical insurance, the likelihood of an NFL city securing multiple Super Bowl hosting duties at once, HGH testing, renaming the Washington Redskins and more. From the very beginning Goodell’s Herman Munster-like demeanor was on full display as he stiffly answered question as if he had a jagged rock logged underneath each big toe while wearing a pair of loafers that were two sizes too small. 

Goodell told reporters that the NFL had conducted a poll in which Native Americans were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the Washington Redskins nickname the same. He says nine out of 10 Native Americans were in favor keeping the name the same. He also said that the name was presented in a way that was meant to  honor Native Americans. While I’m not sure what Native Americans he was talking to, the idea that a team called the Providence Palefaces or the Dartmouth Darkies could be possibly be considered honorable is ludicrous.

“The Washington Redskins name has … from its origin represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context,” Goodell wrote. “For the team’s millions of fans and customers, who represent one of America’s most ethnically and geographically diverse fan bases, the name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”

A firestorm topic among players has been retirement medical coverage. San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis asked the commissioner why the NFL did not have free lifetime medical coverage for retired NFL players, especially those who are suffering from chronic brain injuries. Once again, Goodell did his little dance of spindoctoring.

”Vernon, first off, we had lots of discussions about that in the collective bargaining process. We went back and improved a lot of our health benefits, both for former players and for current players, to the point where I think the health benefits that are provided to current NFL players are the best in the world. And so I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do with the union in approving those benefits."

“We also still have a lot of work to do for former players. The cost of trying to provide health care for every player that’s ever played in the league was discussed with the union. It was determined that these changes were the best changes. And that’s what we negotiated. We’re all proud of the efforts that we made. We’ll continue to make more efforts and do a better job, particularly with our former players in providing them opportunities and to give them the proper health care”.

While Roger Goodell did explain what the league does do in the form of medical coverage for former players, he did not say why the NFL has not taken the initiative to provide that coverage on its own accord instead of including it in the collective bargaining process. Right is right.