Damian Strohmeyer/Sports Illustrated

A conversation with the NFL commissioner on cutting dead time out of game broadcasts, a potential change in overtime and full-time officiating

By Peter King
March 24, 2017

For a bonus episode, I sat down for a conversation with Roger Goodell at the NFL offices on Park Avenue in advance of the NFL owners meetings beginning Saturday in Phoenix. Goodell talked about the length of games, admitting that it also drives him crazy. He explained different options the NFL is considering to help decrease all the down time in television broadcasts. Goodell talked about a new proposal to make overtime periods just 10 minutes, instead of 15, and how that will help player health and safety and introduce more strategy to the game. He also talked about the potential of centralized replay and announced that there will be some full-time officials at the start of the 2017 season, the beginning of a gradual buildup with the goal of having the referee of each crew as a full-time official.

4:03: Goodell on cutting dead time from game broadcasts

When I watch the games on Sunday, I am watching as a football fan… I am seeing things that disturb me, or that I find an intrusion. Particularly, as we get into this age now where there are so many distractions for our fans. I don’t want to give them an excuse to move off of football. I want them to be there all the time... We have seen areas that we know we can improve on… It drives me crazy when I am watching a game, the amount of time we spend- There is flag that goes down, we go over, we talk to the coach, we then make an announcement, then he goes under the hood, he comes back and sometimes they have a decision and they are standing there waiting before they can make the announcement, until TV gets back. We obviously want to be well coordinated with our television partners and make sure that experience is right, but it can be done so much more effectively and efficiently.”


6:05: Goodell on centralized replay with V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino making the final decision

"It is a very big deal for us because I think the first thing it is going to address, and the reason why we are doing it, is the consistency issue. That’s the core of what we are doing. But we also believe that it will be very effective in being able to take time out, that we just discussed a few minutes ago. There is no question in my mind we can do it more quickly. That is also a huge benefit to us because that is part of the initiative here…. It will undoubtedly will lead to better consistency.”


9:04: Goodell on whether he has the votes for centralized replay

“The competition committee was unanimous on this. They all believed it was the right thing to do and I think that holds a lot of sway in the room.”


14:50: Goodell on decreasing length of broadcast

“We have 156 plays in the game on average, we are not trying to change that at all. We are not trying to interfere with the game, what we are trying to do is make the overall game from a fan standpoint, more compelling, because we will take out down time. That’s the objective. We won’t judge ourselves on, did the length of the game go down from 3:05 to 3:02. We will judge ourselves on, did we make it more compelling by taking out down time?"


20:30: Goodell on proposal to change overtime to 10 minutes instead of 15 minutes

"Our current overtime rule came from a fan. Bill Polian came up to me this year at the Super Bowl with another rule, which we are proposing next week. Why does the overtime period have to be 15 minutes? Why couldn’t it be 10 minutes? So we put that in front of the competition committee. I thought it was a great idea, it really caught my attention. Why does it have to go 15? ... The idea here is you want to force them to win it in regular time period. You don’t want them to risk going into the overtime. You don’t want them to be running out the clock into overtime, there’s a health and safety issue. That’s five more minutes a team is on the field when they might have to play on a short week. It made a lot of sense, we’ll see what the impact is. You might have a lot more tie games, we don’t know, we don’t think so... The extra point was a great example of that, it wasn’t something that people really focused on, but we did because it became an automatic play. There was no question about what the outcome was going to be. We changed that now and now people are watching that play and it has become really important in a lot of important games, including our last Super Bowl. That’s the element we are trying to bring into the game, which is more drama, more excitement, more complexity and strategy to our game.”


24:40: Goodell on the possibility of full time officials

“The answer is yes, we are going to do it. It’s something we negotiated for with the officials association. We feel confident it is worth going forward and seeing what the impact is….   We believe this can add more consistency. You still are going to have 17 referees who are not in here every week, but if they are in here over some period of time, they will get more consistency and they will be able to understand what everybody is doing…. We have some crews move a game faster than others, there is actually a seven-minute difference between the top and the bottom. That means they manage a game differently than another crew. We think we should find a way to narrow that. We think some people will look at certain fouls differently than others, but that should be as consistent as possible between crews. … It would be best if it was the referees initially, but this is going to happen over a period of time I don’t expect by the start of the 2017 season we will have 17 referees full time. I think we will work down a path here and determine how many, but we will have people full-time before the start of the 2017 season."

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