January 30, 2015 / 10:40 PM / 2 years ago

Goodell plays defense during state of league address

3 Min Read

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media before Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix, Arizona January 30, 2015.Lucy Nicholson

PHOENIX (Reuters) - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's annual Super Bowl state of the league address on Friday was not so much about highlighting the league as it was defending his own job performance during what has been a tumultuous season.

Goodell, who has come under sharp criticism for fumbling the league’s response to a string of domestic violence cases involving players, was repeatedly questioned about the controversy and missteps during the nearly one-hour media session ahead of Sunday's championship game between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.

The commissioner, who earns a reported $44 million annually, was asked if he should take a pay cut or should have been fired or resigned.

He said he saw no situation where something like that would happen.

"It has been a tough year," admitted Goodell. "It's been a tough year on me personally. It's been a year of what I would say is humility and learning.

"We obviously as an organization have gone through adversity but more importantly, adversity for me.

"We've all done a lot of soul searching starting with yours truly and we have taken action."

While Goodell trumpeted a line of new programs and initiatives designed to help restore the league's integrity, including a newly imposed personal conduct policy, the tough questions are likely to continue as the league deals with a deflated football scandal.

The NFL has not finished an investigation into the Patriots' use of under-inflated footballs in blowout win over Indianapolis Colts that secured a berth in the Super Bowl.

"We take seriously anything that could potentially impact the integrity of the game," said Goodell. "We are focusing on two questions: Why were some footballs used in the game that did not comply with the rules and was it the result of deliberate actions?

"We have made no judgment on these points," he said.

"This is my responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. I represent 32 teams. All of us want to make sure the rules are being followed."

On the defensive almost the entire session, Goodell defended his relationship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, after Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman charged the commissioner with a conflict of interest for showing up at a party at Kraft's home.

"I was at the Krafts' residence along with season-ticket holders, sponsors and media partners, the night before the AFC championship," explained Goodell. "I was there to participate in the program with our partner. It's something I do on a regular basis. It's not unusual.

"It's also not unusual that I work closely with owners."

Editing by Gene Cherry

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