NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave his 10th "State of the NFL" press conference on Friday, two days before Super Bowl 50, and said he was "disappointed" in what he saw at the 2016 Pro Bowl.
Asked about the status of the game by NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, Goodell said:
"I'm not going to speculate on where the Pro Bowl is going, but I was disappointed in what I saw on Sunday. I raised this issue three or four years ago. We worked with a number of players to make changes in the game. They had a positive impact at least in the short term, but I didn't see that this past week. I want to talk to more players about that. We're going to talk to our coaches about it, we're going to talk to our personnel about it. I think it's very important to have a stage on which you celebrate our great players, what they can do on and off the field. We may have to think about that differently than we have in the past. I think our biggest standard has to be what we expect from the NFL and what our fans expect from the NFL. If it's not quality, if it's not real competition we can be proud of, we have to do something different. That's my number one priority right now. I'm open to new ideas, I'm open to how we do it, but it's not the kind of game that I think we want to have in its current format based on what we saw last week."
The annual all-star game formerly matched up selections from the AFC against NFC players, but has been "unconferenced" with a player draft by celebrity captains the past few years in an effort to build interest.
View gameday images from the 2016 Pro Bowl.
A team named for Hall of Famer Michael Irvin defeated a team named for Hall of Famer Jerry Rice 49-27.
Teddy Bridgewater threw for two touchdowns, Harrison Smith recorded an interception and broke up a play that would have been a touchdown for Team Irvin, which also featured Anthony Barr. The first-time Pro Bowlers defeated a team with Vikings teammates Adrian Peterson and Everson Griffen. It was Peterson's seventh Pro Bowl and Griffen's first.
Goodell had capped his nearly seven-minute opening statement to the 45-plus-minute session by saying the league's goal is to "get better."
"That's our goal. In everything we do, and every day we work we will work to get better in every way," Goodell said. "That's what our teams do, and that's what the league will do. That's what I love about this job and why I look forward to coming to work every day."
Here are a couple other notes from Goodell's session with reporters:
Two personal fouls could = ejection?
Goodell also was asked about a potential in-game system for ejections of players "for egregious offenses or acts" and his potential role for on-field discipline in the future. He said he's spoken to members of the competition committee, members of the league and players, to request considering a rule change that would result in ejection of a player who is flagged for two personal fouls.
"I believe the league should pursue a policy where if there are two personal fouls in a game, there's an automatic ejection of a player," Goodell said. "I believe that that's consistent with what we believe are the safety issues, but I also believe it's consistent with what we believe are the standards of sportsmanship that we've emphasized.
"We should take that out of the hands of the officials when it gets to that point," Goodell said. "They obviously will have to throw the flag, but when they do, we'll look to see if we can reach an agreement on the conditions for which they'd be ejected, but that's a competition committee matter. We'll discuss it further with the Players Association at the combine, as well as with membership in March, but I've recommend already to the competition committee to at least consider what I think is consistent with our goals of trying to bring sportsmanship back into the kind of play that will keep the focus on the game, keep the focus on the great play that's happening."
In Mexico on a Monday night
We know all of the opponents the Vikings will play in 2016 and where, but the when is traditionally announced in the spring when the league releases its full schedule. One game of the 256 in the regular season is now scheduled.
Goodell announced that Oakland and Houston will play a regular season game in Mexico City on Nov. 21, a Monday night.
"We are coming back to Mexico next season. We're excited," Goodell said. "We'll have a game on Nov. 21 between the Raiders and the Texans. We're very excited about being back. We have a tremendous fan following in Mexico. We believe it will be a tremendous success."
The NFL played its first international regular-season game on Oct. 2, 2005, when a crowd of 103,467 saw the Arizona Cardinals defeat the San Francisco 49ers 31-14 in Mexico City.