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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Tackles Complex Issues and Demanding Stakeholders

“It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it” is an apt description of Roger Goodell’s role as NFL Commissioner. He’s worked at the NFL for 31 years, recalling that It took five years just to be former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s Super Bowl driver.

Jonathan Tisch, New York Giants’ co-owner, interviewed Goodell at NYU’s Hospitality Investment Conference on Tuesday, covering a range of serious and fun topics. Below are excerpts from Goodell’s comments.

On football’s evolution and what’s at stake: “The business has changed from a sophistication standpoint. It’s a high profile business, so the responsibilities are higher. Sometimes I make decisions that aren’t popular, but I’m proud of those.”

On meeting football fan’s needs: “For the in-stadium experience we must do a better job of creating value, delivering options that customers want. We need to make it unique, safe and have the proper concessions. There’s also great potential for events like the NFL Draft, and we’re looking at more off-season events to create a year-round experience.”

On adapting to changing technology and media platforms: “Our biggest fear is being complacent, so we keep trying to find innovative solutions. A big piece is technology, since we ask fans to disconnect for a few hours, so we need to wi-fi the stadiums.”

“The biggest opportunity is meeting the continuing demand as technology changes rapidly. We’ll keep delivering NFL news on several different devices. As more content is available, we’ll have more ability to reach fans directly.”

On the 2014 New Jersey Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, the first northern host city without a roof: “It’s a great opportunity to promote football and the Super Bowl. Football is designed to be played in the elements, which makes it special. It’s great for this community, and I have more ticket requests for this game than before.”

“We’re embracing the weather and the opportunity to keep fans warmer, and will give them electric warming devices. We’re prepared to deal with bad weather. We’re planning a Super Bowl Boulevard in Times Square, an outdoor festival that’s truly unique. The buzz and excitement created will be great.”

On dealing with NFL owner bosses: “For us to get anything done in the NFL, we have to convince several successful and egotistical owners that’s the right way to go. I see it as a challenge, and it’s exhilarating to find solutions to difficult problems.”

On addressing player safety issues, in the wake of ongoing negative publicity about concussions: “We have to make the game safer, starting from a youth football standpoint. Injured players need to be monitored and coaches must be certified to make them aware of proper practices. We need to take the dangerous techniques out of the game.”

“We’ve raised money through the National Institute of Health, and we’re partnering with GE Innovation to find better imaging techniques for concussions. Risks and rewards exist in every sport.”

On expansion of NFL teams: “The NFL has been out of L.A. since 1995. It’s a loss for the NFL and for L.A. To have a team there again, we’d need the right kind of stadium solution to attract the right kind of fans. We’ll add a third London game and may have a London team if the market can support a franchise.”

On other northern cities hosting future Super Bowls: “The mayor of Chicago called and said, put us on the list.”

(We predict many companies, including Coca-Cola and their polar bear brand mascot, will make the list of advertisers for the first chilly Super Bowl next year.)

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