Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK — Just because New Jersey is hosting a Super Bowl this year, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said other cold-weather sites like Philadelphia and Buffalo shouldn’t get their hopes up.
“I think this is obviously innovative and it’s something new, but it’s also unique because it’s New York,” Goodell said. “This is a stage, we have two teams here. Every city can’t host a Super Bowl just because of the sheer enormity of this event. And it’s not just a football game. We have a week full of events, we probably have well over 150,000 coming in to the New York region for this event.
“Will we look at other Super Bowls in cold-weather sites? I think we’ll wait and make that evaluation later.”
With Super Bowl XLVIII set for Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium, Goodell was interviewed by former Associated Press White House correspondent Ben Feller at the 92nd. St. Y. The audience submitted questions for the final 15 minutes of the one-hour talk.
The game will be the first Super Bowl intentionally held outdoors in a cold-weather environment.
Around the region Tuesday, an Arctic blast of cold air sent temperatures plummeting. Or, as Feller put it, “a ridiculously frigid night.”
In the wide-ranging conversation, Goodell was asked about everything from concussions to the health of the game. He didn’t reveal much that the league hasn’t released before, but he did say the owners were considering adding two additional wild-card teams to the playoff mix, although he didn’t offer a timeline.
“That is under serious consideration,” he said. “One of the great things about the NFL other than it’s unscripted is that every team starts the season with hope.”
Every city can’t host a Super Bowl just because of the sheer enormity of this event. … It’s not just a football game.
— Roger Goodell
Goodell said that on the final week of the regular season, 13 out of 16 division games had playoff implications. He stressed that the league needs to keep that competitiveness, and could try to hone it with additional teams going to the playoffs.
“Can you make it better, can you make those [division] races even more competitive?” Goodell said. “That’s compelling.”
“It’s something that the competition committee looked at last year and thinks there are some real benefits from a competitive standpoint. They’re going to study some aspects of that because when would those games occur and one team would get a bye in each conference and you’d have six games on the weekend. So would you have three on Saturday, and three on Sunday? Or do you get one on Friday and two on Saturday and two on Sunday and one on Monday? I think those are the kinds of things we want to evaluate.”
Not so compelling, Goodell said, is the idea of reseeding the playoff teams during the course of the playoffs.
“I don’t see the owners pushing for a big change on that, and that ultimately is where it has to come from,” Goodell said.
Some of the other topics touched upon:
• Goodell is still waiting for the facts to be finalized in the Jonathan Martin bullying case, but said the league has preemptively started discussions with players about creating a better workplace environment.
• Asked about concussed players wanting to go back in the game, Goodell said, “The most important thing we can do is when you have this injury is treat it conservatively.” He added that players need to heal properly from all injuries.
• Asked if the NFL is ready for an openly gay player, Goodell was firm: “Yes. There may be, I don’t know, but the answer to that is yes.”
• Goodell supported the idea of a London-based team. “I think it’s possible if we continue to have success in London that we would have a franchise there.” Asked if it would come after an L.A. team, he said, “I don’t know which will be first and I’m not sure I care. I’d like to see if we can be successful in both ultimately.”
• Goodell said he could envision a time when players use medical marijuana to treat pain in states where it is legal: “I don’t know what’s going to develop as far as the next opportunity for medicine to evolve and to help either deal with pain or help deal with injuries,” Goodell said, “but we will continue to support the evolution of medicine.”
• Goodell revealed that he and his fifth-grade daughter play fantasy football in a father-daughter league.