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Goodell: NFL Is 'Committed' to 'Thursday Night Football'

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held his annual State of the League address Wednesday afternoon in Houston in advance of Super Bowl LI.

Goodell, who is in his 11th season as the commissioner, was approached with a variety of questions ranging from league rules to relocation possibilities.

While the Vikings weren't the sole focus of any one question, Goodell did announce that the NFL has no plans to get rid of Thursday Night Football.

Every NFL team played on Thursday night this season. Minnesota fell 17-15 at home against Dallas, a game that Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer missed due to emergency eye surgery.

Goodell's comments mean the Vikings could have another Thursday night game in 2017, although he did say the league would review the policy that placed every team on the broadcast in 2016. The Vikings have played one Thursday night game in each of the past five seasons and also played on Thanksgiving this past November.

"Thursday Night Football is something that we're very committed to," Goodell said. "We put all 32 teams on there … we're thinking about maybe reevaluating that where we don't have quite the number of teams."

Here are four other topics that Goodell addressed during his session:

Potential rule changes

The NFL implemented a pair of rules on a one-year basis in 2016 — where two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties equal an ejection; and touchbacks after kickoffs resulted in possession at the 25-yard line — and Goodell spoke highly of both Wednesday. 

While the Owners of NFL teams vote on potential permanent rule changes, Goodell's praise seems to indicate the rules are here to stay.

"The reason we put (the unsportsmanlike conduct rule) in, along with our kickoff rule, is that so we can see what the impact is," Goodell said. "Both the intended impact and the unintended consequences … and that's something we've done very successfully.

"I think the unsportsmanlike conduct (rule) seems to be a very positive thing," Goodell said. "We'll look at it again through the competition committee, it will have to come up for another vote. Both of those (rules) will be looked at."

Back to Mexico

The Vikings will play in London against the Cleveland Browns in 2017 in a game that is considered an away game for Minnesota.

Goodell announced there will also be another game outside of the country as Oakland will host New England in Mexico City.

The Raiders earned a 27-20 win over Houston at Estadio Azteca in 2016. It was the first-ever Monday Night Football game played outside of the United States.

Goodell said the matchup between Oakland and New England will likely be on a Sunday.

"We had a great experience last year," Goodell said. "We couldn't have asked for a better reception from our fans in Mexico.

"We always envisioned it would be more than a one-year commitment," he added.

Looking ahead to labor

The topic of medical marijuana was brought up to Goodell, who said the league is looking into all drug policies.

Goodell pivoted to the league's current Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is set to expire after the 2020 season. Goodell said the league is open to negotiating early for a few agreement that would cover issues such as medical marijuana.

"From our standpoint, the labor agreement we have has worked incredibly well for the players, clubs and the game in general," Goodell said. "We would love to engage, but the reason why we should all sit down at the table and begin negotiations so that if we want to reach a different policy on the drug policy or any other matter, we can all begin that earlier and do it in a way that's responsible."

Speeding up the game

Goodell was asked whether or not the league is looking into avenues that would help make games more watchable.

Some felt NFL games are taking too long due in part to commercial breaks or replay reviews.

Goodell noted the Competition Committee and others are looking into ways to speed up the stoppage time in between plays.

One area Goodell mentioned was instant replays, an area he mentioned where officials could review plays on a Surface tablet on the sideline for a quicker process.

Goodell also said the NFL could implement a clock that starts after extra points are made to shorten the time before the ensuing kickoff. He also said the league is exploring a reduction in the mandatory commercial breaks per quarter from five to four.

"We have been focused on this long before this year," Goodell said. "What we're trying to do is to make our product exciting and our games as exciting and action-packed as possible."

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