NEW YORK — With artificial snow flakes fluttering behind, flanked by the gleaming Lombardi Trophy and helmets of the Super Bowl XLVIII teams -- the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos -- Commissioner Roger Goodell gave his annual Super Bowl week state-of-the-NFL address Friday inside the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center.
Goodell was asked by USA TODAY Sports about how the controversy over the Washington Redskins name has ramped up this past year. His stance and the team's stance are known. What is not known, however, is whether Goodell would feel comfortable addressing an American Indian as a "Redskin" to his or her face?
"I spent the last year talking to many of the leaders of the Native American community," Goodell said. "We are listening and we are trying to make sure we understand the issues.
"But let me remind you: This is the name of a football team, a football team that has had that name for 80 years. That has presented the name in a way that is honorable to Native Americans. We recognize that many don't agree with the name. And we respect that.
"But if you look at the numbers, including the Native American communities, the Native American community poll, nine out of 10 prefer the name – eight of 10 Americans in the general population would not like us to change the name. So we are listening and being respectful to people who disagree."
He paused before adding, "But let's not forget that this is the name of a football team."
Goodell began his hour-long address by talking about the first cold-weather Super Bowl venue and how this week has gone.
"It was brought to my attention that (late Commissioner) Pete Rozelle said the Super Bowl should be played in ideal conditions,'' Goodell said. "Pete was an innovator. I believe Pete would be very proud of where we are this week."
Then, he addressed the hottest topic of this Super Bowl – the weather.
"This is a great stage for this Super Bowl," he said. "And the world will be watching. One of the focuses this week has been on the weather. Of course, we can't control the weather."
Goodell said it appears the forecast for temperatures in the 40s with mild winds Sunday should work out for a potential classic clash between, "the best of the best,'' the top-ranked Denver offense and Seattle's league's No. 1 defense in terms of points allowed, yards and takeaways.
Goodell was asked about the possibility of other cold-weather Super Bowl venues going forward.
"There's been a lot of planning for months, even years, but everyone has been fantastic," Goodell said. "I can't say enough about the job everyone has done.
"I think people are feeling the excitement and the energy. So this opportunity has been extraordinary, something we'll look back on as a very important time in our history."
Goodell said owners will review the process for future cold-weather sites going forward, but he cited the need for venues to have at least 30,000 hotel rooms as a pre-qualifier.
"I was up in Seattle for the NFC Championship game, and if you want to feel energy, go up to Seattle,'' Goodell said.
He added the push for enhancing that stadium experience going forward.
Other topics Goodell addressed:
- He was asked about the concussion lawsuit settlement that is pending approval by Judge Anita Brody after the $765 million settlement had been approved in August. Goodell said Judge Brody is taking her time in a bid to determine "That the agreement we reach is going to work.''
- Would he be willing to randomly test players for marijuana, and what is his openness to considering the potential medicinal benefit of the drug if it can help with concussion treatment? "I am randomly tested. And I'm happy to say, I'm clean. It is still an illegal substance on a national basis and it is collectively bargained by our players. We'll continue to follow the medicine. We are not actively considering this at this point. But if it does at some point, (it is shown to be beneficial medicinally) we would never not consider something that would help our players.''
- On-field instant replay review: "What we all want is consistency and fairness. That's something the Competition Committee will consider over the next two months. I do believe some version of that will come into effect.''
- The chance of a potential London franchise? "I believe the response to the third game in the UK, sold it out in such a short time, the more we give the fans in the UK, the more they want. What our next step is, I don't know. We will continue to invest there.''
- A kid reporter asked if there are any decisions Goodell regrets given how many he has to make in his challenging job: "We don't have enough time to talk about all my regrets. That's a very good question. Your first responsibility as commissioner is to do what is best for the game, our players, our ownership and partners.Those decisions are always done with the best interest of the game.''
- Will Goodell be disappointed if it's not a snow game? "It looks like it's going to be warmer than we anticipated. This is an opportunity for the game to shine. And we have two great teams here. I think the game itself is going to carry the day. And it should.''
- Expansion of the playoffs? "We believe there could be benefits and we think we can do it and make it competitive."
- He was asked if changes will come from the Jonathan Martin bullying in the workplace investigation: "We are going to focus on this in the offseason. "Some of it possibly could involve policy changes.'' Goodell added, "Some of it may not be policy as much as providing that professional work place.''