The annual Super Bowl week tradition was renewed amid several ongoing controversies and new opportunities to grow the league. Here’s what you need to know.
This week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sat outside of SoFi Stadium to answer questions from the media in the annual “State of the NFL” address. Key topics included Brian Flores’ class action lawsuit, improving diversity hiring, finally returning to Los Angeles for a Super Bowl, the chances of welcoming the NFL’s first Black owner in the near future, hosting a game in Germany, and the investigation into the Washington Commanders‘ workplace environment.
Boardroom was there to take it all in — here’s what you need to know straight from the commissioner.
Brian Flores‘ lawsuit against three teams and the NFL itself
“The initial reaction was regarding the legal claims themselves,” he said in reference to the NFL’s first statement that Flores’ claims were “without merit.” The league then sent out a memo signed by Roger Goodell himself insisting that “racism and any form of discrimination is contrary to the NFL’s values,” but that “there is much work to do.”
As Goodell then said in the press conference, “I found all of the allegations were very disturbing, they are very serious matters to us on all levels and we need to make sure we get to the bottom of all of them.”
Flores’ class action lawsuit against the NFL, the Dolphins, Giants, and Broncos alleging not just discriminatory practices in the league’s interview processes, but also instances of roster tampering and tanking for draft picks.
Flores’ claim that Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 per game to lose
“We are going to look into that and we will make sure that if there were violations — that they won’t be tolerated. We’ll have to find out what the facts are and when we know what those facts are and the impact it has on our game we’ll deal with it very seriously,” the commissioner said. “I do believe that clubs [owners] do have the authority to remove an owner from the league. It’s a league vote, I believe.”
Flores famously alleged that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 per game to lose in order to secure a higher draft pick.
Improving hiring diversity in the NFL
“I think what we have to do is to continue to find, and look and step back and say we’re not doing a good enough job here,” he said in response to a question from NFL Network’s Jim Trotter. “We need to find better solutions and better outcomes. There is not a single answer; the single responsibility comes to all of us in the NFL, and we have to be the ones that make that change and we are the ones who have to bring diversity deeper into our NFL and make the NFL an inclusive and diverse organization that allows everyone the opportunity to be successful.”
The NFL had nine head coaching openings after the 2021 regular season ended, and has filed two of the nine slots with Black coaches.
SoFi Stadium, Super Bowl LVI’s host venue
“I think this is going to be a regular Super Bowl stop because of [SoFi], Goodell said at the press conference. “We needed to have a state-of-the-art stadium that gave us the ‘wow’ factor. That gave us the ability to put on these big events and attract other events other than the Super Bowl. The earliest we would consider LA would be Super Bowl LX, but I’d be hard pressed to think that they’re not going to be at the top of everyone’s list.”
After last playing the big game there in 1993, the league set its eyes on returning to Los Angeles in 2012; SoFi Stadium broke ground in Nov. 2016 and was completed in Sept. 2020. The stadium reportedly cost $5 billion to build.
On the potential of the Denver Broncos getting a Black majority owner
“We have met with Byon [Allen] a couple of times. He is not the only individual that is interested in buying an NFL team that is Black and we have worked hard to make sure we have as many candidates [as] possible and put them in a position to succeed,” Goodell said.
Allen, an entertainer and media mogul whose portfolio includes The Weather Channel, told Bloomberg he was interested in buying an NFL team on Tuesday. Both Jeff Bezos, Peyton and Eli Manning and Jay Z have also been rumored to have interest in buying the team.
“We would love to see a diverse owner of the team,” Goodell said. “Whether that’s a person of color, a female, or a Black man, we think that would be a really positive step forward, and it’s something we’ve encouraged and one of the reasons we’ve reached out to find candidates to do that.”
Investigating the Washington Commanders organization
“I can’t see how a team can hold an investigation into itself,” he said. “We need to understand what really truly happened in those circumstances and treat that in the best and most serious way we can to make sure we preserve the type of culture we want in the NFL.”
Goodell’s words come after the the Commanders announced they had hired an outside investigator to look into sexual misconduct claims within the organization. The league has since said it would hire an investigator to lead the probe into the allegations.
Playing regular season games in Germany
“We’re going to go Munich this season to play a regular season game. We’ll be playing at the Bayern Munich stadium. We’ll also be playing another game over the next four years at Munich and two games at Frankfurt,” he said. “So over the next four years we’ll be playing four games in Germany.”
In December, the NFL announced that four NFL teams – Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – have been granted access to Germany for marketing, fan engagement, and commercialization as part of its International Home Marketing Areas (IHMA) initiative.