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NFL

Goodell: Rooney Rule likely to get revamping

| Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, 2:04 p.m.
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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addresses the media during a news conference for Super Bowl XLVII on Friday in New Orleans. (Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS — The Rooney Rule is about to get its first major revision.

The rule requiring minority candidates to be interviewed for high-profile NFL positions was followed without fail as eight head coaches and seven general managers recently were hired. What NFL commissioner Roger Goodell finds unsatisfactory is that not one of those 15 jobs was filled by a non-white candidate.

Goodell calls the results “simply not acceptable.”

“We didn't have the outcomes that we wanted, and the outcomes are to make sure that we have full diversity throughout our coaching ranks, throughout our executive ranks and throughout the league office,” Goodell said Friday during his state of the league news conference at the Super Bowl. “It's very important to the success of the league to do that, and we're committed to finding those solutions.”

That likely means the first revamping of a rule that took effect 10 years ago and is named for Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, who pushed for its passage. Goodell did not explain what tweaking might be done.

“We have to look to see what the next generation of the Rooney Rule is,” Goodell said. “What's going to take us to another level? We're committed to finding that answer.”

Rooney was not available for comment Friday but recently told the league's website, “We want minorities to get the job, and we're willing to say that is our goal. But when it gets down to a team, you can't tell them, ‘This is what you have to do.' ”

The Steelers learned Friday they will play before a sold-out Wembley Stadium when they meet the Minnesota Vikings in London on Sept. 29. All tickets have been sold — that's about 80,000 — though the Steelers are expected to make some seats available to season ticket-holders. The 49ers-Jaguars game a month later also is sold out.

The NFL is using the London games — now two a season — to expand its European footprint and weigh the viability of someday placing a franchise there. The Jaguars, for example, will play there each of the next four seasons, in essence becoming London's home team once a season.

“What's the next step, beyond the two games? Should we move to three?” Goodell said. “Should we consider other alternatives to continue to accelerate the growth of the game in the UK?”

One of Goodell's priorities is to firm up with the players' union a human growth hormone testing program for the 2013 season. Such a program was mandated in the 2011 collecting bargaining agreement.

Head shots — and the limiting of them — was addressed multiple times during Goodell's 50-minute session. He said neurosurgeons will be on the sidelines at all games next season to help judge how seriously a player is injured, especially in regard to possible concussions. He also said more suspensions are a way to ensure players understand the need to limit blows to the head.

Goodell attempted to suspend Ravens safety Ed Reed for a game late in the season for such hits, but the suspension was overturned on appeal.

“Suspension gets through to them,” he said. “It's ‘get through' on the basis they don't want to let their teammates down, and they want to be on the field. We want to see them on the field. We're going to continue to emphasize the importance of following those rules. When there are violations, we will escalate the discipline.”

With the NFL just one year away from its first cold weather Super Bowl in New Jersey, Goodell suggested that the ability to play the nation's biggest sporting event outdoors in potentially unpleasant weather likely will determine whether non-tropical or domed-stadium cities will be considered as future sites.

“The game next year is going to have an impact on further decisions for open-air, cold-weather sites,” Goodell said. “Some of the most classic games in our history were played in extreme weather conditions. We know them all, the ‘Ice Bowl,' some of the games that I look back on as a fan and say, ‘That was fun.' ”

Goodell also said an 18-game schedule remains under consideration. A question about that schedule was asked by journalist Larry Fitzgerald, father of Cardinals and former Pitt receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Most NFL players oppose lengthening the schedule.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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