- Jul 26, 2011
- Reaction score
- Detroit, MI
Roger Goodell says he feels welcome in New Orleans for Super Bowl 2013 | NOLA.com
Ok, so give us back our pick now."You know, you look back at it, my picture is in every restaurant, I had a float in a Mardi Gras parade, we got a voodoo doll," Goodell said. "I'm serious. People here have been incredible. The last couple nights when I've been out with a lot of the people that I worked very closely with following the Katrina tragedy, and we celebrated the work that we did then. But what we did is, we all reflected on how great that was that we worked together and they couldn't be nicer, and they couldn't be more welcoming. And it's the same story with the fans.
"And I understand the fans' loyalty is to the team. They had no part in this. They were completely innocent in this. So I appreciate the passion. I saw that for myself when I was down here during Katrina. And it's clear that's what they're all about. So I support the fact that they are passionate."
But if the Saints fans were yearning for an apology and an admission of wrongdoing from Goodell, they had better search elsewhere. Goodell strongly stood by his stance Friday that the Saints ran a pay-to-injure program from 2009-2011 as Saints owner Tom Benson, his wife, Gayle, and owner/vice chairman of the board Rita Benson LeBlanc listened near the front of the room housing a large group of media members.
"There's no question that there was a bounty program in place for three years," Goodell said. "I think that that is bad for the players of the game. And I think the message is incredibly clear and I don't believe bounties will be a part of football any more going forward. That's good for everybody. I do think that message has come through clear."
Goodell admitted he had regrets in the way he and the league handled the Saints bounty scandal in that he feels the NFL hasn't recognized that eliminating bounties from the NFL is a collective responsibility.
"Clearly, the teams, the NFL, the coaching staff, executives, we all share that responsibility," Goodell said. "That's what I regret that I wasn't able to make that point clearly enough with the union and with others. That is something that we're going to be incredibly reliant upon."
Goodell angered Saints fans earlier this week when he announced during an online chat on Reddit how the league was going to maintain the loss of a second-round pick for the Saints in the 2013 draft. When the NFL upheld the bounty penalties for the Payton, Loomis, Vitt, Gregg Williams and the team last April, the league also stated, "the commissioner would consider whether there are factors that would support modifying the forfeiture of the team's 2013 second-round draft choice."
Goodell shed little light on his decision-making process of maintaining the forfeiture of the second-round pick.
"There are clear violations of the bounty rule for three consecutive years," Goodell said in reference to the pick. "That's not going to be permitted in the NFL. That's not just my business. Commissioner (Paul) Tagliabue reviewed this and had his own process and came to the same conclusion that there were violations. So the reason why we're not returning any of the draft choices or any of the discipline is because it occurred and it should not have occurred."
Goodell also made it clear once again how he didn't see eye to eye with Tagliabue when it came to penalties for Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith, along with former Saints defenders Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita. Goodell still feels like suspensions were warranted, while Tagliabue said in his bounty appeals decision in December that fines would have been the appropriate punishment rather than suspensions.
"Commissioner Tagliabue (and Goodell) agree on the facts," Goodell said. "There was no difference in the findings of the facts in respect to the investigation done by the league and overseen by Mary Jo White and verified by Commissioner Tagliabue's process. The only difference was that he vacated the discipline for the players. We disagree with that. I disagree with that.
"I believe that we're all responsible for what goes on in our locker rooms, on the field and part of our game, and that's a collective responsibility. We're not going to hide from that. That will be something, and I said to our clubs on December when we met, everyone here should understand the responsibility for our rules will be enforced as fairly and as clearly as possible."
Goodell also responded to remarks made by NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth on Thursday about how trust between the players and the league has been fractured even more as a result of how the bounty scandal played out.
"I'm going to have to work harder to try to make sure that we can work together, we can trust one another," Goodell said. "But we also need to make sure that we understand that we're going to have differences from time to time, and that's OK. But there needs to be a fair resolution and move forward in a positive way for the game of football."