TAMPA, FL – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been a busy man. This is expected since it is Super Bowl Week, the championship of the league and the final game of the season.
Usually, Goodell does a lot of press, speaking on the state of the league, and answering questions from the press on various topics.
This year, is different. With our country in the throws of a pandemic, the health and safety of the league’s players and fans has been at the forefront of the NFL Commissioner. Many of the usual press is covering things in Tampa virtually.
This past few years has also brought a heightened awareness to racial inequality in society, and in football, the hiring of black head coaches and front office representation by owners in the NFL.
Add to that, we have one of the biggest events in the world, Super Bowl 55.
With a Super Bowl being held in the pandemic, the host city’s team being in the game, and all of the health and economic effects that come with that, it is an unprececendted year for the NFL.
So let’s get to some points from this weeks Goodell announcements and statements.
On COVID Vaccinations
This week, Goodell sent a letter to President Biden that Every NFL team will offer their stadium as a possible mass vaccination site to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This expands the efforts from only 7 teams.
Each team “will make its stadium available for mass vaccinations of the general public in coordination with local, state, and federal health officials,” Goodell wrote in the letter, which was sent on Thursday. The effort would be helped, he said, by the experience the teams already have with transforming parts of their facilities into coronavirus testing sites.
And yes, the NFL has 32 teams, but the teams in New York and Los Angeles share stadiums.
On Colin Kaepernick
Goodell also mentioned that Colin Kaepernick deserves recognition for his stance.
“I said very clearly back in June that we wish we had listened to our players earlier, and we had a lot of players that were coming and bringing these issues to us,” he told reporters, via the Mercury News. “It didn’t start last summer; it started over two years ago and we’ve been working with the Players Coalition over that period of time.”
Goodell added: “Colin was one of the individuals who obviously brought a great deal of attention to this, and, for that, he deserves our recognition for that and appreciation.”
On the hiring of black head coaches
Goodell was faces once again with questions of the lack of diversity in the NFL head coaching ranks.
This year’s hiring cycle saw the league double the number of minority head coaches with the Texans hiring David Culley and the Jets hiring Robert Saleh, but the lack of opportunities for others like Eric Bieniemy, Byron Leftwich, and Todd Bowles still drew a lot of attention.
It wasn’t what we expected. It’s not what we expect going forward. We have to look at what went right and what went wrong. . . . They’re not the outcomes we wanted. We want it to be a natural process,” Goodell said.
Goodell said that he and the league are will be focusing on this issue more.
Goodell noted that there were three Black General Managers hired and that there has been progress in increasing the diversity at the coordinator level. That should mean more candidates in the pipeline for the next hiring cycle and another chance for the league to get the results Goodell says they desire.