USA TODAY Sports' Tom Pelissero breaks down Roger Goodell's press conference that closed out the NFL annual meeting in Phoenix, AZ.
PHOENIX – NFL owners expressed confidence during their annual meetings that the league could return to the Los Angeles market with one if not two teams for the 2016 season.
But Commissioner Roger Goodell made clear in his media conference after the meetings wrapped up Wednesday that the NFL won't rush back to Los Angeles, even with three teams vying to move and two stadium projects in the works.
"We're focused on doing this right," Goodell said. "If we go back to the Los Angeles market, we want it to succeed for the long term. And we have a lot to do to get to this place. So we're not focused on '16."
Personal conduct remained a topic of discussion throughout the week after a tumultuous 2014 season marred by several high-profile issues. But these meetings in many ways returned focus to what the NFL does best: Continuing to find ways to grow a $12 billion-a-year industry.
Expanding the playoff field to 14 teams is on hold for at least another year, Goodell said, as the league continues to analyze the competitive impact, scheduling issues, unintended consequences and possibility of tying in extra playoff games to the Thursday night TV package.
The three-way race to Los Angeles among the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams, however, might only speed up in coming months. Goodell said he expected all three teams to provide updates in late April and report back to the clubs at the next meetings in May.
Goodell also praised officials in St. Louis, who are doing a "terrific job of formulating a plan" and have "a perfect stadium site" for a new Rams stadium, and he said league staff will meet in the next week or two with a task force working to keep the Chargers in San Diego.
"There's a tremendous amount of focus on the stadium alternatives (and) marketing studies in all those markets, including current markets," Goodell said. "So there's a great deal of work being done and I would expect that that would continue at a very disciplined pace."
Here are the talking points from Goodell's news conference:
"We had a very productive few days and covered a lot of subjects. I think the NFL owners feel very good about the work we did."
On if the April 15 date is still relevant for the Adrian Peterson situation:
"Yes it is. We're going to continue the evaluation. We'll have our people and I expect to meet with Adrian before we make a final determination on his status, but we expect to keep that timetable."
On the timetable for completion of Ted Wells' report on the Deflategate controversy involving the New England Patriots:
"We have not put a time frame on Ted Wells. We've asked him to be thorough, complete. And when he's finished with that, he'll get that to us and to the public in general."
On if the league handled the initial investigation properly:
"I think I made it very clear at the Super Bowl that we were not making any judgments.That we were obligated, as part of our role, to make sure we understand the facts whenever there's a charge or a violation of our rules and we take it very seriously. That's our obligation. That's our obligation to the 31 other clubs. Ted Wells will be going through the report. If there's anything that we as a league did incorrectly, we'll know about it in the report."
On the status of playoff expansion:
"We had a healthy discussion on that issue. It's something we have been evaluating over the last couple of years. I think several factors went into the decision to, at least, postpone the expanded playoffs. Some of them would be on the competitive side; in the last two years -- interesting enough -- it has been inconsistent with our experience in the past in that the last two (years) we actually had five less teams that would've qualified under the 14-team format than the 12. That's a little bit counterintuitive to the experience that we have had. Whenever we make a change like this, we want to look at what are the positives and the negatives, what are the unintended consequences. We want to make the regular season more important, more exciting, and have more teams in the race. If we're not doing that, then we want to make sure that we understand why and what else we can do to affect that."
On whether there are concerns about tampering before free agency:
"We want to protect the integrity of the rules. All teams have to play by the same rules. We want to make sure no teams are gaining an advantage as it relates to free agency and the opportunity to get free agents. There are several teams and several issues that we're looking at. They're all being taken seriously, but as soon as we have enough information we will make a judgment on whether it was a violation or not. Once that happens, we'll certainly let everyone know publicly."
On TV blackout rules:
"It's important to balance the interest of having our stadiums full with our broadcast policies. By changing our broadcast policies over the last six or 10 years, we've given our clubs more flexibility to sell their stadiums out, more flexibility in their manifests, more flexibility in the way they can sell their tickets. This has not really become an issue. We had zero blackouts in 2014. We had two in '13. What we have seen is a significant change there. And I think the membership felt that at this point in time, with the work that has been done and the policy changes, that it was appropriate to suspend it for a year. Let's see what the impact is long term. That's the analysis being done here. Our clubs have done a great job aggressively marketing themselves and their market. There's a positive, obviously, of having your games on television. It's a great marketing vehicle."
On whether a player can be disciplined for something that happened in college:
"The personal-conduct policy for the NFL doesn't apply to someone who's in college. We don't have that right. We don't have that ability. We do have the ability, however, if a player in the NFL has an issue when the personal-conduct policy applies to them, to consider that as an aggravating factor, something that could be considered in the overall context of the decision."
On the Dallas Cowboys signing Greg Hardy before his league discipline was determined:
"Any club was free to sign Greg Hardy. They understood that we were reviewing his case for potential discipline. That continues. We are trying to get as many facts as we possibly can to make the most informed decision we can, so that we can uphold the standards that we put forth in our personal-conduct policy. I expect that will conclude sometime in the near future and we'll make a decision shortly after."
On his meeting with former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston:
"I think we were incredibly clear about our expectations of anybody who enters the NFL, or is in the NFL. What we expect of them as men, and how they represent not only their franchise but the NFL, and the full insight into our personal conduct and the reasons for it, and our services. He met with several people. The conversation was very candid -- extremely candid. This is a young man who understands his responsibility and now it's up to him to live up to that."
On Winston possibly not attending the draft:
"We respect that there are players from time to time that want to be with their families. I understand that he told somebody from our staff that that was the case. I don't focus on the invitations. We'd love to see the players there, but we also respect when they want to be with their families."
On the draft being held in Chicago:
"What appeals to me most is that we're turning the draft to the great Midwest being a great opportunity for us. The response we're seeing from everyone in Chicago gives us great excitement for this event. … I think it's going to be a great experience. I think the fans are coming from a broader region. We have a new opportunity this year with an outdoor setting for more fans to engage with."
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