Today, myself and SB Nation colleagues Ryan Van Bibber, Matt Ufford, and the SBN Studios crew got a chance to participate in a Q & A with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. While there, the Commissioner made it clear anything discussed was "on the record," and he was gracious enough to answer a variety of questions posed to him by our group.
With all the news today regarding the state of the Pro Bowl, we had a chance to ask Commissioner Roger Goodell about the state of of the game. News broke today that the NFL's All-Star game might be canceled. The NFL PR's Greg Aiello tweeted earlier today that no decision had been made regarding the game. I was able to ask the commissioner for a response to the news.
Note: When I talk to someone, I typically like to transcribe the entire exchange and post it as is. Here is Goodell discussing the Pro Bowl as well as a rather interesting new concept the NFL and NFLPA are exploring that could change the game.
Goodell: It's clear this year, and I think I've said this publicly, the quality of [last year's Pro Bowl] was not what we're all about. So, we're either going to improve the quality of that game, or we'll discontinue it. We've had pretty intense discussions with the union the last couple of months. Discussions as recently as this morning. So, we'll continue to do that. If we can't find a good solution to make the game competitive and fun event that will reflect well on the NFL, then we'll probably discontinue it.
Wells: Will the NFL replace the game with a skills competition, or something along those lines?
Goodell: Yeah, the problem is we've done that. [laughter] You know, we've had beach contests. Remember the old, Classic Superstars?
Goodell: We tried a lot of that on the beach in Hawaii. We ended up having a very serious injury to one of our players [Editors note: Likely this player was the Patriots' Robert Edwards]. I think we've gotten to the point where we've tried an awful lot of things. In a recent meeting with the NFLPA, one of the players had a very interesting idea that we think is worth evaluating and see if it will make any sense.
Wells: Do you want to share that idea?
[Group in the room laughs, including Goodell]
Goodell: Well let me share this much of it. Instead of having a winners and a losers share, you would take the pool of money and you would divvy it up based on performance during the game. So, you wouldn't necessarily get a payment being on the winning and losing team. It would be for how you performed on the field when you were on the field.
When asked another follow-up on the proposed Pro Bowl changes from the unnamed player, Commissioner Goodell made it clear this was not pay for performance based on things like a "big hit." Obviously, agreeing to that would be completely hypocritical in light of the punishment the league levied on the Saints and their coaches for the bounty scandal under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
The way the proposed concept would work, per Goodell, is that if the offensive team scores a touchdown, players on that team would get "X amount" while the defensive players who allowed the touchdown would not.
Overall, the idea Goodell shared with us sounds interesting, and seems worth exploring. While the Pro Bowl is certainly nothing critical to the success of the NFL, it does get great ratings. In general, fans might like a competitive "All-Star" type game from the biggest league on the planet.
Special thanks to Brian McCarthy (@nflprguy), Greg Aiello, and Joanna Hunter for allowing us access to Commissioner Goodell. Also, thank you to the Commissioner himself for his time and candor.