Atlanta — Faced with a blitz of officiating questions and queries about the effectiveness of the Rooney Rule, Colin Kaepernick’s football unemployment, and the cancellation of a news conference for a Super Bowl halftime show that has drawn hefty criticism, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell scrambled.
Goodell did provide some nuggets of news on Wednesday. He noted establishing a quarterbacks summit at Morehouse College in June to help get more minority coaches into the pipeline of higher-level assistant coaching jobs that are quicker pathways to head coaching opportunities.
Otherwise, Goodell generally ducked the rush at his annual State of the NFL appearance as effectively as Russell Wilson.
Naturally, Goodell was peppered with questions, some bordering on demands, to upgrade the officiating 10 days after a non-call late in the NFC championship game pretty much cost the Saints a spot in the Super Bowl.
While agreeing that game officials missed the helmet-to-helmet hit and pass interference penalty by Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman — league officiating chief Al Riveron called Saints coach Sean Payton after the game and admitted the blown call — Goodell said the league will re-examine the officiating process.
He didn’t rule out adding such plays to the video review system, and he definitely didn’t endorse such a move.
“We will look again at instant replay,” said Goodell, who added that league executives recognize the frustration of Saints fans. “There have been a variety of proposals over the last — frankly 15 to 20 years — of should replay be expanded? It does not cover judgment calls. This was a judgment call.
“The other complication is that it was a no-call. And our coaches and clubs have been very resistant and there has not been support to date about having a replay official or somebody in New York throw a flag when there is no flag (thrown).
“They have not voted for that in the past. It doesn’t mean that we won’t. It’s something that we’re going to put to the competition committee to see if there’s an answer to that, but the reality is that’s been at least an opposition philosophically for many clubs.”
Goodell also touched on several other topics:
♦On Kaepernick, who some claim has been blackballed by the league for sparking social injustice and police brutality demonstrations during the national anthem, Goodell said:
“I think if a team decides that Colin Kaepernick or any other player can help their team win, that’s what they’ll do. They want to win and they make those decisions individually in the best interest of their club. Our clubs are the ones that make decisions on players they want to have on their roster. They make that decision individually in the best interests of their team.”
♦On the cancellation of the halftime news conference following widespread condemnation of the choice of Maroon 5 and several artists refusing to participate as a sign of support for Kaepernick:
“We’re extremely pleased with the diversity, quality and the excitement surrounding our entertainers.
“This is the biggest stage in the world, and I know people want to be part of that.”