NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held his annual press conference addressing the state of the league on Friday, and said that this "has been a tough year" for him.
Goodell has been widely criticized for the way he and the league handled cases, such as those involving Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, over the last several months.
"It has been a tough year on me personally, a year of humility and learning. It’s an opportunity for us to get better," Goodell said.
The commissioner talked about the NFL's current investigation into Deflategate, and said it will focus on why the under-inflated balls were used and if deliberation actions were taken. He said the league has "made no judgments" so far.
Goodell was asked about Patriots owner Robert Kraft expecting an apology if it turns out New England did nothing wrong, to which Goodell said, "This my job. This is my responsibility, to protect the integrity of this game. I represent 32 teams."
"Whether a competitive advantage was gained is secondary in my mind to whether that rule was violated," Goodell said.
Goodell said the NFL has not yet decided on whether Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch will be fined for wearing a non-licensed hat at a press conference this week, but addressed Lynch's lack of cooperation with the media.
"You have an obligation. I understand it may not be on the top of [Lynch's] list, but everyone else is cooperating," he said. "Everyone else is cooperating, because it is our obligation. It comes with the privilege of playing in the Super Bowl."
Player safety was another issue Goodell addressed, announcing that the league will soon install a chief medical officer to oversee all medical issues. The NFL announced on Thursday that concussions sustained in regular-season games were down 25 percent in 2014 from 2013 levels, and on Friday Goodell said hits on defenseless receivers dropped 68 percent this season.
- Molly Geary