Commissioner answers the tough NFL questions while attending game at alma mater

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Lake Fong, Post-Gazette
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tosses a coin as Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl looks on before the Washington & Jefferson homecoming game against Westminster yesterday. The two alums served as the Presidents' honorary co-captains.
Click photo for larger image.

From the stability the Rooney family offers to the controversy surrounding performance enhancing substances to the right foot Tennessee Titans lineman Albert Haynesworth delivered to Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode's face, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who took over the position from Paul Tagliabue in August, spanned the continuum of topics.

Goodell, a 1981 Washington & Jefferson graduate who attended his alma mater's home game yesterday against Westminster, held court along the sideline at Cameron Stadium for a few minutes before kickoff.

He deftly fielded each question from a throng of inquisitors and, while some might have expected the new commissioner to tread delicately, to his credit, he didn't. Straight, forthright and with the perfect mixture of professionalism and "regular guy" personality, Goodell answered each query, even the ones it might have been easier to offer up a "no comment."

Of performance enhancing substances such as Human Growth Hormone (HGH), Goodell said: "It is one of our challenges. We have been the leaders in that area in the past and I've spent an awful lot of time in my first 60 days focusing on that.

"But testing is just one aspect of the program, there is more involved. There is education, discipline and a lot of aspects. It is well beyond football and professional sports and even amateur sports. HGH is an issue in all lifestyles. People want to look and feel younger in general and with us, that intersects with sports."

Of Haynesworth's kick and subsequent five-game suspension: "It was clearly well outside the rules of football and what we expect from NFL players on the field. ... We expect higher standards from our players, our coaches and everyone involved with the NFL. Five games in the NFL is a lot of games."

Of the NFL labor situation: "We take pride in it, but it is also one of those continuing struggles. How do we continue to balance the right kind of labor system to make sure the game stays strong on the field? That is an ongoing concern."

Of rising from an NFL office intern in 1982 to present-day commissioner: "I'm one of those fortunate guys who has been able to follow his passion for 25 years. I always knew I wanted to work for the commissioner. But I never dreamed I'd be the commissioner."

Of the NFL Network: "We think it is another way for us to deliver football to our fans and they are able to consume more and more football."

Of W&J: "When I think about the school, I think back about a great foundation. I had a lot of great friends here. This place gave me an understanding of who I was, how to learn and how to get along with people. Those are the experiences I got and that I have used throughout my professional career and they have stayed with me. I couldn't be more grateful for the foundation that I got from W&J."

Of the Steelers ownership: "The Rooneys are nothing but class, dignity and a great reminder of the traditions of football. They've been very important to me personally, but also I know how important they are to this region."

Colin Dunlap can be reached at or 412-263-1459.


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