HOUSTON — Hit with Deflategate questions from a number of angles, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said "we're moving on from that" and indicated he would return to Foxborough, Mass., for a Patriots game — when he's invited.
In a 45-minute media session Wednesday afternoon at the George R. Brown Convention Center in advance of Super Bowl LI, Goodell offered little on the increasingly complex situation for the Raiders, who remain steadfast in their desire to move to Las Vegas despite financing for a new stadium falling apart this week. Goodell offered little hope for NFL fans in San Diego, who lost the Chargers last month to Los Angeles. He also steered clear of any political questions about new President Donald Trump and his hotly debated and controversial actions.
Here are some other highlights from the session:
1. With Patriots owner Robert Kraft and son Jonathan in attendance, Goodell said "it's not awkward for me at all" to deal with the organization despite the NFL-imposed four-game suspension for quarterback Tom Brady this season.
"We had a disagreement about what occurred," Goodell said. "We have been very transparent about what we think the violation was. We went through a lengthy process. We disagree about that. But I continue to respect and admire Robert, Jonathan and the entire organization. They are an extraordinary organization and they are extraordinary people. So I have a very deep and close relationship with them. But that doesn't change that we have to compartmentalize things that we disagree on. I'll be honest with you, I have disagreements with probably all 32 of our teams. I'm not afraid of disagreements and I don't think disagreement leads to distrust or hatred. It's a disagreement. You take your disagreement, find a common place and you move forward. That's what it is. It's not a personal nature, which I know people like to make it. But for us, it's about making sure that we do what's right for this league long term."
2. Thursday night football isn't going away. Goodell cited high ratings for Thursday games, saying they'll remain on the schedule even though they are unpopular with players.
"Thursday night football is something that we are very committed to," Goodell said. "There has been a lot of discussion about the safety of the game, but we have seen absolutely no indication there is any further risk of injuries and injury rates are actually slightly lower on Thursday night than they are on Sundays. And as it relates to the quality of the game, we have seen that be incredibly positive also. We have seen less turnovers. We have seen less penalties. In almost every aspect of what you would say is the quality of the game, we have seen high-quality football on Thursday night."
Goodell did say the NFL will rethink the current policy of having all 32 teams appear on Thursday night games.
3. As far as the Raiders and Las Vegas go, the NFL is still exploring the matter.
"We haven't made a determination about Las Vegas as an NFL market," Goodell said. "That's part of the relocation process. The Raiders submitted an application; it's one that we're considering carefully. But there's a great deal of work to be done. There are several elements of that. Financing the stadium is just one, obviously the stadium project itself, the depth of the market. All of those are things that we've studied over the last several months. That will increase in intensity over the next month or so."
4. The NFL is exploring game management to keep the action flowing for fans at the stadium and watching on television.
That includes the possibility of officials using a tablet for reviews on the sideline so they don't have to walk as far to the replay booth. The league could reduce the breaks per quarter from five to four. And it might use a play clock after a score for the ensuing kickoff. "I expect to see a lot of changes this offseason," he said.
5. Goodell reiterated the word he has used often in recent years about franchise relocation: painful.
He said it was "disappointing" the Chargers bolted San Diego and when asked about the possibility of the Raiders potentially moving there, he said the stadium issue that the Spanos family was unable to resolve would likely have to be figured out.
6. Goodell said he has yet to receive a proposal from the NFLPA on the possibility of rules for recreational use of marijuana being altered.
7. He announced the Patriots and Raiders will play a 2017 regular-season game in Mexico City.