NFL's Goodell aims to share blame on player safety

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to share the blame.

"Safety," he said at his annual Super Bowl news conference, "is all of our responsibilities."

Not surprisingly, given that thousands of

former players are suing the league about its handling of concussions,

the topics

of player health and improved safety dominated Goodell's 45-minute

session Friday. And he often sounded like someone seeking

to point out that players or others are at fault for some of the

sport's problems — and need to help fix them.

"I'll stand up. I'll be accountable. It's part of my responsibility. I'll do everything," Goodell said. "But the players have

to do it. The coaches have to do it. Our officials have to do it. Our medical professionals have to do it."

Injuries from hits to the head or to the

knees, Goodell noted, can result from improper tackling techniques used

by players

and taught by coaches. The NFL Players Association needs to allow

testing for human growth hormone to go forward so it can

finally start next season, which Goodell hopes will happen. He

said prices for Super Bowl tickets have soared in part because

fans re-sell them above face value.

And asked what he most rues about the New

Orleans Saints bounty investigation — a particularly sensitive issue

around these

parts, of course — Goodell replied: "My biggest regret is that we

aren't all recognizing that this is a collective responsibility

to get (bounties) out of the game, to make the game safer. Clearly

the team, the NFL, the coaching staffs, executives and

players, we all share that responsibility. That's what I regret,

that I wasn't able to make that point clearly enough with

the union."

He addressed other subjects, such as a "new

generation of the Rooney Rule" after none of 15 recently open coach or


manager jobs went to a minority candidate, meaning "we didn't have

the outcomes we wanted"; using next year's Super Bowl in

New Jersey as a test for future cold-weather, outdoor championship

games; and saying he welcomed President Barack Obama's

recent comments expressing concern about football's violence

because "we want to make sure that people understand what we're

doing to make our game safer."


— New Orleans will not get back the second-round draft pick Goodell stripped in his bounty ruling;

— Goodell would not give a time frame for when the NFL could hold a game in Mexico;

— next season's games in London — 49ers-Jaguars and Steelers-Vikings — are sellouts.

Goodell mentioned some upcoming changes, including the plan to add independent neurologists to sidelines to help with concussion

care during games — something players have asked for and the league opposed until now.

"The No. 1 issue is: Take the head out of the game," Goodell said. "I think we've seen in the last several decades that players

are using their head more than they had when you go back several decades."

He said one tool the league can use to cut down on helmet-to-helmet hits is suspending players who keep doing it.

"We're going to have to continue to see discipline escalate, particularly on repeat offenders," Goodell said. "We're going

to have to take them off the field. Suspension gets through to them."

The league will add "expanded physicals at the end of each season ... to review players from a physical, mental and life skills

standpoint so that we can support them in a more comprehensive fashion," Goodell said.

With question after question about less-than-light matters, one reporter drew a chuckle from Goodell by asking how he's been

treated this week in a city filled with supporters of the Saints who are angry about the way the club was punished for the

bounty system the NFL said existed from 2009-11.

"My picture, as you point out, is in every restaurant. I had a float in the Mardi Gras parade. We got a voodoo doll," Goodell


But he added that he can "appreciate the passion" of the fans and, actually, "couldn't feel more welcome here."