NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said if he had a son, he would encourage him to play football.
Goodell made the comments in an interview with ABC News’s Robin Roberts. Goodell cited the “tremendous values” football teaches as the reason he would allow a son to play.
“I would not only want him to play football, I would certainly encourage him to do it and I would let him do it,” Goodell told Roberts. “There is risk involved in anything in life but what we need to do is to make sure we show people how to get the most out of playing sports and do it safely.”
Goodell told Roberts there has been a “culture change” in the NFL when it comes to concussions. The number of reported concussions increased in 2015, though Goodell said screening also increased by 108%.
The NFL reached a settlement in 2013 with over 4,000 players who sued the league for its handling of concussions. Since 2008, more than 30 deceased NFL players have been found to have CTE, a degenerative disease resulting from repetitive brain trauma.
In December, the movie Concussion dramatized the NFL’s attempts to cover up the issue of concussions in football. Wednesday, it was revealed Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ken Stabler had stage 3 CTE when he died.
“If I had known that I could have we could have done things different we could have made more changes but the league has a history of changing the game,” Goodell told Roberts. “We're over 100 million dollars in research going not just to make football safer, this is going to make all sports safer, the military safer, and quite frankly will probably have an impact on brain disease in general.”
Goodell also touched on the NFL’s issues surrounding women in his sit-down with Roberts. He said the league is addressing its domestic violence policies, and Goodell also announced Thursday a new rule requiring teams to interview women for executive positions.
“We want to make sure that when we have an opening we're making sure we not only have a diverse slate of candidates but we also have women we believe can do this job and give them the opportunity,” Goodell said.
Goodell has been commissioner of the NFL since September 2006. He made $44 million in 2012 and $35 million in 2013.