NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to Broncos fans: Games should be cold
As the Broncos and city of Denver continue to work toward their bid to host the Super Bowl, it was 2 degrees Saturday as people awoke around sunrise in the Denver metro area.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was in town to personally feel the chill. An unfortunate chamber-of-commerce moment? Nope.
Perfect timing, as it turned out.
"My personal view is, the game of football is to be played in the elements," Goodell said to nice applause Saturday as he spoke to about 200 Bronco fans prior to Denver's divisional round AFC playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens. "There are people who like to see the Super Bowl played in absolutely pristine conditions, where everything is the same and there's no weather elements at all. I just don't think that's football."
Where's the Denver blizzard when you need it? This city and its Broncos are in the process of bidding to the host the Super Bowl in 2018 (LII), 2019 (LIII) or 2020 (LIV).
The NFL has not only opened its mind to playing the Super Bowl in an outdoor, "cold weather" stadium, it's going to test the concept next year in New Meadowlands Stadium, home of the New York Giants and Jets, in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
"It was a great opportunity to look at, "Will this work?"' Goodell said following his fan forum. "Is this something can have a real positive change for the NFL? We'll see."
As Goodell spoke to an orange-clad gathering at the West Club Lounge inside Sports Authority Field at Mile High, he learned Broncos fans are more intuitive than most. Among the topics the commissioner addressed:
• Asked if he favored the current schedule format of 16 regular-season and four preseason games, or the owners' proposal of 18 regular season games and two in the preseason, Goodell put the question back to the fans along with a show of hands.
Bronco fans overwhelmingly preferred 18 and two.
"We don't want four preseason games," Goodell said. "They don't meet the standard of the NFL. This issue we have to work through is player safety."
• Several Broncos players, most notably Von Miller, have been fined this year for what appeared to be accidental, speed-of-the-game hits.
"We believe all these changes that were made can be adjusted to," Goodell said. "And they have adjusted. You have to be under control. It's working."
• Goodell added that the No. 1 position for NFL injuries is defensive back.
• The commissioner said concussions are down 50 percent since kickoffs were moved up 5 yards to the 35 starting with the 2011 season, a move that in turn drastically reduced the number of returns.
• As part of its initiative to make the game safer for players, Goodell said the league will look at every low block delivered this year, "to see if we can change the rules."
• The commissioner was blunt in his disagreement with the players' union stance on human growth hormone (HGH) testing.
"The players believe there is problems with the science with the test of HgH," he said. "That's just not true."
• Besides player safety, Goodell mentioned enhancing the fans' in-game experience at the stadium as a crucial issue confronting the league. One fan pointed out that while replay reviews may be fine for the fan watching from the warm comforts of home, the delays stab at the patience of those sitting still in their seats.
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