Good afternoon. I want to tell you, I guess I can't tell you what a privilege it was to be here today. As I said to the fans and the shareholders, being in Lambeau Field and looking up at the crowd and all of the green and gold and seeing all of those names up there was really a special treat. It was one of the highlights of being commissioner, I've got to tell you, so it was really great to be here.
(Can the Packers plan these developments for down the road without a new CBA?)
I think you are hitting on exactly the point that we have discussed with the Players Association is that to create revenue, it takes an investment. And there is a risk to those investments obviously, but obviously there is cost. We need to make sure to grow the game and make sure to build the game and make it better so that we have the opportunity to do that. We do believe those are the types of things that need to be addressed from an economic standpoint in the collective bargaining agreement.
(One of the questions from the fans was what if there is no season? Is there that possibility?)
Listen, we are so far away from that. We have an entire season of football and a lot of negotiations. We have a lot of work to do, but a lot of time to get it done, and I think there is a desire on everybody's part to make sure we continue to play football.
(Both Charles Woodson and Aaron Rodgers, along with other NFL players, came out against the enhanced season. Doe the league have any reaction to those comments?)
I am not surprised at all by those reactions, and I have spoken to several of those individuals. It's getting people to understand what we are trying to create, how we build a better game, what other things we need to change as part of that. I think we need to make sure the players are informed about that. It is one of the reasons I am going around and seeing 10 different teams in 10 different days, to make sure they understand our perspective on these issues, and I think when they do, they understand the benefits of doing it.
(It is our understanding that Vince Young is not going to be suspended. Is there a firm decision there?)
Yes, I happened to meet, and I think we are going to be announcing shortly so I might as well do it while I am here, but I met with Vince earlier this week and at this stage, based on the facts that we have, I see no reason for any kind of disciplinary action. I did have a good conversation with Vince about his responsibility as an NFL player and he needs to avoid putting himself in that kind of position, and I think he understands that.
(Did you meet with Johnny Jolly before handing down his suspension, and did you ever get any indication that distribution was part of his case?)
I did not meet with Johnny, but that is not uncommon as it relates to violations of our substance-abuse policy. That pretty much goes through a process that I am frequently not involved with because our drug program is a joint program with the Players Association and the NFL. So it went through that process, and as part of that arrangement there is a tremendous amount of confidentiality, which we respect, so we don't talk much about the details of it, including the second part of your question.
(A lot of suspensions aren't as open-ended as this one. Is this different than for instance Koren Robinson getting suspended for a year?)
Again, every circumstance is probably a little different, but they are all done within the context of our substance-abuse policy, and are consistent in that matter. I don't think there is anything outstanding in that process or the decision.
(The Packers release their financials a few weeks ago and the union said that it was just one team out of 32. Did you see parallels to what the Packers are experiencing with other teams?)
I think the Packers' numbers speak for themselves. They have indicated that they haven't seen any evidence that the model isn't working, and I think that is a clear factor. But the big issue is, they have more financial information available to them to help them understand what is wrong with the model, which we have provided. We consistently provide that information so they the right kind of data to make the decisions, and they know our revenue to a penny because of our system. They know our costs, the majority of our costs, which are player costs. They have a very good understanding of our stadium expenses because we work with them on those stadiums, and they are involved. There are audit rights that are part of our collective bargaining agreement. I think somebody reminded me recently that there are seven pages in our collective bargaining agreement that are dedicated just to audit rights. They have a tremendous amount of information to be able to make the decisions they need about what we are going to do to create a new system that works for everybody.
(If you go to 18 regular-season games, these bodies are going to be on the field for 18 full games, barring injury. And I'm guessing then the Super Bowl might be pushed back to perhaps mid-February. Would you then push for a scale-back on offseason on-field activity?)
It's one of the reasons we've talked about you can't look at this in isolation. It goes back to the question earlier about player reaction. It has to be done in a comprehensive way, which includes how we look at the offseason training. Should we still have OTAs? If so, how many? Should we have restrictions on how long training camp is? Should we have restrictions or limitations on how practices are evolved? I think all those things are important, including size of our rosters. Should we allow movement within that roster that we don't allow today? All those things can be done to improve the game, and I believe those are the things we need to focus on.
(In terms of player safety, the pads on the lower part of the body -- thigh, knee and hip – what's the research showing those types of pads are preventing injuries? What types of injuries?)
I'm having a hard time understanding why you need research to say that padding is going to protect you, that padding is not going to make you safer. Players have worn those pads for several years, and we're seeing it being worn less and less, at certain positions in particular. I think it's a balance between performance and safety. A lot of times people want to perform at the best level. We would like to be able to say, 'We want you to perform at a high level, but we want you to do it safely.' There are pads that we can develop, particularly with new technologies that can allow you to do both, and we're testing that I believe in 12 training camps this year, these new types of pads, which a number of our manufacturers want to make. I think it will make the game safer. And you have people not wearing the protective gear that's properly fit. You see a lot of particularly defensive linemen, the shoulder pads they're wearing, they look like quarterback pads. We think the players should use the protections available to them, and we should work hard to try to provide more of that.
(The Lambeau experience is always rated very high. Would it be too cold to ever hold a Super Bowl here?)
I guess we have the same potential for it to be cold in New York, when we come to New York in 2014. But it's really not as much about the weather as it is about the infrastructure. To put on a Super Bowl, I think it's over 25,000 rooms within 60 miles. It's the infrastructure that's required for hotel rooms, for people to come in, for traffic. It's an extraordinary undertaking, and it gets bigger and bigger every year. So I think those are the challenges that a market like Green Bay would face.
(Why did you think it was important to come to this today?)
First, I was invited by Mark, and I thought it was a unique opportunity. This team itself represents so much to the NFL, to the history and tradition of our game. It means so much to this community, and to be able to sit there and watch the shareholders meeting and see the shareholders interact and the fans interact, it was a great experience for me.
(You seem pretty positive there won't be a lockout. Do you have indications from your early negotiating, like the rookie salaries thing could happen, or certain things that give fans hope?)
I don't like to characterize where we are on a day-to-day basis about the negotiations. I know that our job is to play football. I think the players want to play football. I think the players understand that the system needs to be addressed in a responsible fashion. And I think there are opportunities to do it in a way that will be good for everybody, including the players, including the teams, including the fans. I think we all understand our responsibilities and hope we'll get to work on that because we have a lot of work to do. But there's a lot of time to be able to address that, and we need to use that in a responsible fashion.
(Do you think the number of unsigned first-rounders at this point is a product of uncertainty for next year? Have you gotten that indication from clubs?)
It's not that different than where it's been in the past, and a lot of those as you know, those decisions are made based on who signs next to them. One of the unique things is the first pick in the draft isn't signed, and sometimes that happens before the draft even occurs, and that usually creates the other players signing, because it creates the marketplace essentially. I don't see any significant difference where they are, but the uncertainty of an uncapped year and the uncertainty of where the marketplace is, they may all be contributing factors, but hopefully they'll get into camp quick.
(As a whole, have you seen many changes as far as offseason spending, not just with the rookies but in general?)
I haven't looked at it in any great detail, but I've seen a lot of activity in teams going out and doing what they normally do, which is trying to improve.
(You talked about the infrastructure for a Super Bowl here. But what about a couple of other events, like the draft that you've talked about rotating, and that third Thanksgiving game? Are those two things you could see being held here in Green Bay?)
Sure. We're continuing to evaluate how we improve everything we do. I think the improvements we made to the draft, as a matter of fact one fan was making that point to me, by moving it to primetime was a big hit, and having it over three days just allowed fans to engage with the draft more than they ever have, and that's reflected in the numbers -- 45 million people watching it. So I think we'll continue in that vein, and I think we'll look to see whether moving it around on either the second or the third or maybe even the first day would be something that could be compelling and add greater interest in the game. So we will continue to look at that, as we do with everything, whether it's Pro Bowl, the draft, the combine, there are a lot of ways we can continue to improve on what we do.