If the Cleveland Browns can't be in the Super Bowl, then the media will at least push to make them somewhat relevant during the festivities. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held a press conference in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he was asked whether there is any update on WR Josh Gordon's request for reinstatement to the league.
Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon recently applied for reinstatement from an indefinite suspension. It marked his one-year anniversary this week. We know the process according to the policy, but can you give any details on the timetable, what’s next and whether you will be the one to make the final judgment on whether he plays in 2016?
"Tony, a lot of things are going on right now. We did get the letter from Josh. The process is that we’ll go back and we’ll look at how he’s conducted himself over the last several months, what he’s done to make sure it’s consistent with the terms of a suspension and at some stage, we’ll have a report on that and I will engage with our people to understand where he is, where he’s been but most importantly where he’s going. When these things happen, it’s about trying to avoid them in the future. Our number one issue here is to prevent these things from happening. I’m hopeful that Josh understands that he’s going to have to conduct himself differently going forward to be a member of the NFL and to be representing the Cleveland Browns, or any team in the NFL. So, our job is to try to get people to understand that, try to make sure they live by the policies we have and ensure that this is what all of us in the league want, but also I think what the fans want. Our fans want our players playing by the same rules."
By referencing Tony, I assume that is ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi who got the question in, so credit to him for that. Although Goodell didn't say anything conclusive, the overall tone seemed rather positive, so I think we'll be hearing about Gordon's reinstatement some time soon after the Super Bowl.
Goodell was also asked about QB Johnny Manziel's recent situation:
We spent the better part of the last two years talking about commissioner discipline for off-field incidents. The need to investigate. You have made those changes. Johnny Manziel’s situation recently, your office has said you are aware and you are investigating. My first question is, what do you know about that situation and some of the claims that were made? Also this is starting to take on a different tone with his father saying that if he doesn’t get help, he is concerned for him. Does this situation make you want to say, ‘We need to do more to help these players, not just discipline and investigate, but to help these players, such as Johnny and some of the other guys that have these situations?’
"I have said this many times over the last year. There is a tremendous amount of focus, and I understand it, from the public and the media on discipline. That is a small part of our personal conduct policy. Our personal conduct policy is to try to prevent these incidents from happening. We have invested in education. We have gone through tremendous education with it. Everybody in the NFL. That includes the commissioner. Every player, every coach, every executive, everyone in the league office has gone through extensive education to understand the issues and to understand what to look for, including bystander awareness, so that you can prevent these issues from happening. That is what we all want to see. We have other services, including counseling and other matters that are available to players if they are struggling with any issue. This happens. We have 3,000 players a year. We have probably at least a half, maybe two-thirds that turn over in any given year. We have young people that may have issues that need to be addressed. We will always look to see how we can do that to try to help them make those adjustments, to try to help them deal with any issues they might have for their long-term safety. It is not just about playing in the NFL. These are young men who we respect, we admire, we are glad if they want to make this an NFL career, but they are young men first. They are young men that are going to lead long and healthy lives. We would like to encourage that and I think our policies have done that. If we can make it better and we can make changes to that, we will certainly engage in that dialogue."
Goodell opted against talking about Manziel's case specifically, instead focusing on NFL players in general. To read about all of the other topics that Goodell discussed, click here.