MINNEAPOLIS — By now, the ebbs and flows of a Roger Goodell state-of-the-union Super Bowl press conference have become stunningly easy to predict.
There are the charged questions—or, at the least, comedic Deflategate references—from a Boston-area reporter. There are questions from foreign outlets wondering if the NFL is coming to their country, or coming back any time soon. There are convenient interludes from child reporters who keep it light and there are your regular heavy hitters hoping to force the league’s commissioner into an uncomfortable, off-script moment.
All of that took place inside the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Minneapolis Wednesday. It has become more of a sport than anything, watching a relatively emotionless man juggle his position as the face of the NFL against his baser instincts which, I’m only guessing, have been screaming at him to rip off his tie, run off the podium, book a yearlong stay at Necker Island and learn to write postmodern fiction between shots of Absinthe.
Unfortunately, there were more serious topics to cover. Here’s what we learned from all of Wednesday’s media availabilities (Goodell, the Eagles and the Patriots), leading with the commissioner:
1. Will the Panthers remain in Charlotte? The Panthers are for sale and soon to be former owner Jerry Richardson is still under league investigation. Goodell was asked if it will be required that a new owner keep the team in North Carolina:
“Any franchise relocation is subject to three quarters vote,” Goodell said. “There isn’t often a stipulation [to keep a franchise in a certain place once you buy it], but I think all of us and the owners believe Carolina is a great market. It’s a market we would like to stay in and we hope that the franchise owner who is eventually selected will have that view.”
2. Did the Raiders violate the Rooney Rule? The NFL found nothing wrong with the way Oakland openly courted Jon Gruden for years, then shoved in the interviews of two minority candidates in quietly before the Gruden introduction. Goodell had to defend that on Wednesday:
“There was a full investigation into that by our staff, they went through it in great detail,” Goodell said. “They spoke to every one of the participants to make sure that we checked the facts…We’ve spoken to every single one of those individuals to make sure that’s the case.”
3. What’s next for Colin Kaepernick? Can Goodell facilitate another opportunity?
There are still players who are extremely unhappy that Colin Kaepernick is not on an active roster somewhere. While that frustration may die down over time, it will certainly follow the commissioner throughout the next season as more quarterbacks go down and no teams bring Kaepernick in for workouts.
“All the clubs, individually, have to make their own decisions about who is on the roster and who is not on the roster," Goodell said. "Colin, as you know, has filed a grievance so I’m not going to talk specifically about the case, but I think that’s something where clubs have to make that decision. We as a league do not get involved in that.”
4. How soon until John DeFilippo becomes a head coach? There are moments during the Super Bowl when highly-regarded assistants can—intentionally or otherwise—show the rest of the world why they are fast risers. DeFilippo, the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach, did that with ease on Wednesday. Here’s his answer about what he learned from a wildly toxic season as Browns offensive coordinator:
“It was exhausting, I’m not going to lie to you. It was exhausting. But, like I said, every day I got up and tried to arrive early, stay late and get our offense to play as good as we could play—adjust our offense to the strengths of our quarterback. I learned a ton about myself, about being an offensive coordinator. I probably had, in that year, an experience that was worth about three years for me.
“And I’m not saying it was dog years, I had a fantastic time in Cleveland, but the situations we went through most coordinators and coaches probably don’t have that happen in one year. It forced me to ask myself ‘What am I going to believe in? What am I going to hang my hat on?’
5. How soon until Patricia acknowledges he’ll be a head coach? The unofficial replacement for Jim Caldwell was candid with reporters Wednesday when he sat down to his interview table, noting that he was really looking forward to answering questions about the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I’ll say this real quick,” Patricia said. “My full focus is on the Philadelphia Eagles, so I think that’ll be 100% what I would enjoy answering questions on.”