Roger Goodell defends NFL officiating during his state of the league news conference

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he has been involved with the league for 36 years, and every year he has heard complaints about officiating. That doesn’t mean he thinks officials are doing a poor job.

Goodell spent part of his annual state of the league news conference before the Super Bowl defending the officials, yet pointing out that the rulebook could see some changes.

“I think our officiating is outstanding,” Goodell said Wednesday. “I believe with technology the way it is, we see things now we never saw, even 10 years ago. That makes their job that much harder. But I think they’re extraordinary professionals.”

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Roger Goodell through the years
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Roger Goodell through the years
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answers questions during the Reuters Media Summit in New York November 29, 2006. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES)
NFL chief operating officer Roger Goodell, wearing a traditional Japanese robe, welcomes players and fans to an NFL 2005 American Bowl party at the Tokyo Dome Hotel on August 4, 2005. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Roger Goodell, the executive vice-president of the NFL, speaks at a news conference in Mexico City to announce the league's first regular season game outside of the United States, July 15, 2005. The San Francisco 49ers will play the Arizona Cardinals on October 2 this year at Mexico City's Azteca stadium. REUTERS/Andrew Winning AW/DY
The new NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (L) shakes hands with retiring commissioner Paul Tagliabue after Goodell was named the league's new chief executive in Northbrook, Illinois, August 8, 2006. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) and New England Patriots Chariman and chief executive officer Robert Kraft laugh before the start of a game in Foxboro, Massachusetts, September 24, 2006, while announcing that the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks will play in the first NFL game in China. The game will be played August 8, 2007. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES)
Roger Goodell (C), the new Commissioner of the NFL, talks with a group of officials before the start of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 7, 2006. REUTERS/ Jason Cohn (UNITED STATES)
First pick by the Detroit Lions and second pick overall in the 2007 NFL Draft, Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York April 28, 2007. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answers questions at a news conference in Tampa, Florida, January 30, 2009. The Pittsburgh Steelers will meet the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL's Super Bowl XLIII football game on February 1. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES)
Quarterback Matthew Stafford from the University of Georgia stands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Detroit Lions as the number one overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York, April 25, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES SPORT FOOTBALL)
Roger Goodell, National Football League Commissioner, testifies before the Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce committee on "The NFL StarCaps Case: Are Sports' Anti-Doping Programs at a Legal Crossroads?" on Capitol Hill in Washington November 3, 2009. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (UNITED STATES POLITICS SPORT FOOTBALL)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walks along the sidelines during the pregame warmup of the NFL's Super Bowl XLIV football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts in Miami, Florida February 7, 2010. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES)
NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell (L), U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and former Colts coach Tony Dungy (R) huddle during flag football with children to promote the first lady's "Let's Move" campaign to fight childhood obesity in New Orleans, September 8, 2010. REUTERS/Cheryl Gerber (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SPORT EDUCATION HEALTH)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell departs after a day of negotiations with players association representatives in Washington March 8, 2011. The two sides are seeking an agreement as the deadline looms for a player lockout. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)
Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson (R) speaks to the media as National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell listens during a news conference after the NFL owners meeting in College Park in Atlanta, Georgia July 21, 2011. NFL owners voted on Thursday to approve a new collective bargaining agreement with players, paving the way for an end to a lockout that has left America's most popular sport in limbo. REUTERS/John Amis (UNITED STATES - Tags: EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS SPORT FOOTBALL)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a press conference before the Super Bowl XLVI NFL football game in Indianapolis, Indiana, February 3, 2012. Super Bowl XLVI between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants is set for play on February 5. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Dallas Cowboys Jason Witten (R) holds the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award after it was presented to him during the NFL Honors award show in New Orleans, Louisiana February 2, 2013. From left are Payton's children, Jarrett and Brittney Payton and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL ENTERTAINMENT)
Eric Reid from Louisiana State University holds his daughter as he stands on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the San Francisco 49ers as the 18th overall pick in the 2013 National Football League (NFL) Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York April 25, 2013. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (R) speaks beside New Jersey Governor Chris Christie during a news conference at the Boys and Girls Club of Newark Clubhouse in Newark, New Jersey January 27, 2014. The event was held to announce the NFL Foundation's grant to the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee's Snowflake Youth Foundation to fund charitable projects throughout New York and New Jersey. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SPORT)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a news conference to address domestic violence issues and the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy in New York, September 19, 2014. Goodell said on Friday that rules governing personal conduct will change, signaling a major shift in policy in the wake of the league's poor handling of domestic abuse cases. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) arrives at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York August 31, 2015. New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady and Goodell are due in a Manhattan federal court to discuss litigation over Brady's four-game suspension. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Oct 31, 2015; London, United Kingdom; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at the NFL International Series Fan Forum at the Institute of Education. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Carson Wentz (North Dakota State) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Philadelphia Eagles as the number one overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a press conference at Moscone Center in advance of Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 22, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the sidelines prior to the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers in the 2017 NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
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Goodell added that like everything else in the league, officiating can improve. The biggest criticisms have come due to the catch rule, which has confused fans and teams alike. Goodell reiterated his thoughts from earlier this week, that he believes the catch rule needs to be fixed.

“The officials are officiating that correctly,” Goodell said. “What we have to do is find a rule we think will address what we think should be a catch in the league.”

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That won’t be easy. Goodell said when he met with players and officials, there’s no consensus on what the rule should be. He pointed out that Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter believes a catch should be ruled a catch only if the receiver gets up and can hand the ball to the official. It won’t be easy to find a catch rule everyone agrees upon, but it sounds like the league will try.

“I think we have some very good ideas we’re going to submit to the competition committee,” Goodell said. “I think there will be a lot of focus on going to the ground, which I think has been part of the confusion for everyone in respect to that rule.

“I think we’ve got a great opportunity here to get this rule right so everyone understands it, appreciates it and that’s not the focus going forward.”

Goodell said he thinks the best way to change the rule is not to add or subtract to what they have on the books, but to erase it and build a new rule from scratch.

“When you add or subtract things it can lead to confusion,” Goodell said.

• Goodell dodged questions about what the league will do next season and beyond in regards to player protests during the national anthem. He said there will continue to be dialogue between players and owners, but did not directly answer a question about whether the NFL will consider making a rule in the offseason to keep teams in the locker room during the anthem.

“I don’t know what we’ll consider in the offseason,” Goodell said.

Goodell said he has not spoken to President Donald Trump, a critic of players kneeling during the anthem.

Goodell also said he doesn’t anticipate the league facilitating Colin Kaepernick being signed by a team. Kaepernick was unsigned all season after he became the face of player protests in 2016. Kaepernick filed a collusion grievance against the NFL.

“All the clubs individually have to make their decisions about who is on the roster and who is not on the roster,” Goodell said. “Colin has filed a grievance so I’m not going to speak specifically about that case.”

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Names in Colin Kaepernick's grievance against NFL
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Names in Colin Kaepernick's grievance against NFL

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft will be deposed as part of the grievance. 

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will be deposed as part of the grievance. 

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Houston Texans owner Bob McNair will be deposed as part of the grievance. 

(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen will be deposed as part of the grievance. 

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York will be deposed as part of the grievance. 

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be deposed as part of the grievance. 

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is named in the collusion grievance. 

(Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

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• Thursday night games are here to stay, after a new contract with Fox. Players have complained about safety with such a short week of preparation, but Goodell said that of the five years the NFL has tracked injury data, this was the first season in which there was an uptick in injuries during Thursday night games.

“Only this year showed a slight uptick, which wasn’t even statistically significant,” Goodell said.

Goodell said he also has heard from players who like the extra rest days following Thursday night games.

“Most players don’t like a short week, but they sure do like the 10 days that come after that,” Goodell said.

• Goodell said the intent of the league and its owners is to keep the Carolina Panthers in that market. Jerry Richardson is selling the team under fire due to allegations of workplace misconduct, and Goodell hopes the new owner keeps the team where it is.

“I think all of us, the owners, believe Carolina is a great market,” Goodell said. “It’s a market we would like to stay in. We hope the franchise owner that is eventually selected will have that view.”

Goodell said an investigation into Richardson, done by an independent investigator, is ongoing.

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Former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson
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Former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson
Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson walks on the field before Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
(L-R) Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, new NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, retiring commissioner Paul Tagliabue, and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson pose after Goodell was named the league's new chief executive in Northbrook, Illinois, August 8, 2006. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES)
Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers, makes a statement after negotiations collapsed between the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA) in Washington March 11, 2011. The last real hope for a quick end to the dispute ended when the union representing the players (NFLPA) filed a court application to dissolve itself after failing to reach an agreement with league and owners over a range of issues. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)
Carolina Panthers team owner Jerry Richardson, right, arrives in the owner's box at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017 prior to the team's game against the Green Bay Packers. Sports Illustrated reported Sunday that at least four former Carolina Panthers employees have received 'significant' monetary settlements as a result of inappropriate workplace comments and conduct by owner Jerry Richardson The conduct, Sports Illustrated reported, included 'sexually suggestive language and behavior, and on at least one occasion directing a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout.' (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/TNS via Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 17: The Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson shakes hands with Corey Brown #10 of the Carolina Panthers before their game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on November 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: (L-R) Head coach Ron Rivera and owner Jerry Richardson of the Carolina Panthers smile after defeating the Arizona Cardinals with a score of 49 to 15 in the NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: (L-R) Retired American professional stock car racing driver Jeff Gordon talks with Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson prior to the NFC Championship Game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Team Owner Jerry Richardson (R) of the Carolina Panthers is interviewed by Terry Bradshaw after the NFC Championship Gameagainst the Arizona Cardinals at Bank Of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson talk prior to game time at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday, October 21, 2012. The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Carolina Panthers, 19-14. (Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
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• Goodell had one bit of scheduling news. Next year’s Mexico City game will be between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams. The Rams will be designated the home team.

• Goodell said he hasn’t given any consideration to whether his latest contract extension will be his last one.

“I’m not thinking about a next (contract extension),” Goodell said. “I’m thinking about the challenge we as the league have, how to grow the league and make it better.”

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Frank Schwabis a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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