It’s that time of year when networks strut their stuff before the the Television Critics Association, and it’s been CBS’s turn for the past couple of days. So on Thursday, CBS chairman Les Moonves sat for a discussion of his network’s agreement to televise NFL games on Thursday nights, and he was joined by Commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Here are the five top takeaways:
1. Goodell insists that “football has never been safer.”
This statement comes in the wake of a federal judge’s approval of a settlement between the NFL and over 4,500 players, who had filed a class-action suit. The league had previously negotiated a $675 million cap on damages related to head injuries, but agreed to remove the cap in order to get the settlement in place. Goodell also praised the Seahawks, whom he cited as an example of how to hit hard but with the “appropriate fundamentals.” But a reporter for The Wrap had this exchange, in which Goodell appeared evasive:
“Yes or no, is there anything wrong with the way [football is] played now?”
“I don’t understand what that question is,” Goodell said. “It’s a hypothetical question. We think the game is outstanding. And we’ve always worked to try to make the games better and safer and more competitive. That’s one of the things that make the NFL great.”
2. Thursday night games are here to stay.
If anything, the only question about Thursday night games is whether they continue to be split with the NFL Network, as Goodell indicated he preferred, or go entirely to CBS. Certainly, that’s the goal of Moonves.
CBS CEO Leslie Moonves calls TNF a “sure thing,” saying: “This is the single-best product on network television and anywhere.”
— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) July 17, 2014
Goodell tried to allay concerns that the games follow too closely after the previous Sundays, asserting that injury rates in Thursday games were slightly lower than the league average. Kraft threw in his own tidbit, apparently with the logic that if his own resident coach/genius is on board, who are we to argue?
3. The league really wants a team in Los Angeles, and at least Kraft wants one in London.
The NFL hasn’t had a team in L.A. since the Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995, and it’s beyond odd that such a massive market would not have a franchise with the nation’s most popular sport. In fact, the league may be contemplating the possibility of multiple teams in L.A.
Robert Kraft at press tour in LA says nfl ownership thinks it’s very important to have 1 or 2 NFL teams in downtown Los Angeles.
— Alex Flanagan (@Alex_Flanagan) July 17, 2014
Kraft is also hoping to see a team based in London by the end of the decade.
4. The location of the 2015 NFL draft will be Los Angeles or Chicago.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Goodell said, “We’re focusing solely on Los Angeles and Chicago now.” New York has hosted the draft since 1965, but the league has grown tired of waiting to see if Radio City Music Hall can accommodate its annual cattle call.
Strictly speaking, the next item occurred before the TCA event, but it happened on the same day, so …
5. The Raiders could end up playing in the 49ers’ new stadium.
Goodell was at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the 49ers’ new home. The commissioner noted “the stadium issue in Oakland,” in which the Raiders have just a year left in its lease with O.co Stadium, which also hosts MLB’s Athletics. The Raiders want a new, football-only stadium built, but if negotiations with local officials are unsuccessful, Goodell indicated that he’d like to see Oakland become a tenant in San Francisco’s brand new crib.
This idea makes plenty of sense in a vacuum. The only problem is that the fan bases of both the Raiders and 49ers despise this idea almost as much as they despise each other.