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Goodell doesn’t see early retirements as a player safety problem

San Francisco 49ers v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t believe that players are retiring early because the game is unsafe.

PFT asked Goodell about that in what turned out to be the last question of his annual “State of the League” press conference today, and Goodell said players’ retirements are personal decisions and not a reflection of heightened concerns about injuries. Asked specifically about Calvin Johnson’s expected retirement at the age of 30, Goodell praised Johnson but disagreed with the idea that his retirement is a bad sign for the league.

“Well, I disagree with the premise of your question to start with. You’re taking those issues and you’re combining them. I think each individual player makes his own individual decision about how long they play the game, who they play for, under what conditions they play. Those are individual decisions that we respect, and they’re made for different reasons. We will continue to support our players, we’ll continue to help them in those decision-making processes, but I don’t see so many people walking away from the game. I don’t agree with that. I see great athletes playing this game and loving to play this game. I talk to players all the time. They say, ‘I hope I can play forever.’ They can’t. That’s not possible. These guys love this game, they’re passionate about this game, and if you lose that passion, maybe it is time to move on. That happens in life. I don’t know what Calvin Johnson is balancing. He’s a great player and a great young man, and whatever it is, I support him. Whatever it is, if I can do something to help him, even if it’s at his next stage of life, I’d do that to.”

Several players retired early last year, including Patrick Willis at age 30, Jason Worilds at 27, Jake Locker at 26, Anthony Davis at 25 and Chris Borland at 24. If Johnson is the first in a wave of players to retire early again this year, Goodell may have to re-examine whether it’s a bad sign for players’ perceptions of what the game is doing to their long-term health.

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53 Responses to “Goodell doesn’t see early retirements as a player safety problem”
  1. cajunaise says: Feb 5, 2016 4:18 PM

    I love the sport of professional football, but Goodell is either kidding himself, or lying. CTE is becoming universally recognized.

    Speaking of which, I truly hope they test Dave Mirra for the disease. He had a lot of major head trauma during his lifetime before his suicide yesterday.

  2. remstar10 says: Feb 5, 2016 4:21 PM

    He is delusional and ignorant. Shame on him.

  3. wte1 says: Feb 5, 2016 4:23 PM

    If Roger Goodell retires early that would be a great sign for the League.

  4. jayhawk6 says: Feb 5, 2016 4:25 PM

    Roger is the King of Denial.

  5. huh6016 says: Feb 5, 2016 4:25 PM

    Robert Smith, ESPN analyst and former Vikings Star RB retiring in prime of his career. Ahead of the curve in recognizing the damage Pro Football does to ones body.

  6. dtroxallday says: Feb 5, 2016 4:25 PM

    He doesn’t think they’retiring because the game is unsafe? Seems to me that’s EXACTLY why they’re retiring.

  7. kurdishpats1 says: Feb 5, 2016 4:26 PM

    Goodell also doesn’t see anything wrong with Peyton Manning using HGH.

  8. floratiotime says: Feb 5, 2016 4:26 PM

    Who actually believes he’s retiring? If you say yes … that bridge of mine is still for sale you know.

  9. Della Street says: Feb 5, 2016 4:29 PM

    You all see Roger saying this and we all know what he says in this regard is untrue. Yet, some still believe him with respect to Deflategate.

  10. broncofanssuck says: Feb 5, 2016 4:29 PM

    This article should read “Goodell doesn’t see anything” the end

  11. zeke2517 says: Feb 5, 2016 4:30 PM

    Why do people bother talking to Roger Goodell?

  12. mazenblue says: Feb 5, 2016 4:30 PM

    NFL is a joke. Glad to at last see Cam getting some good attention. The league needs as much as they can. Its so tarnished right now, but the money is flowing.

    #NFLLivesMatter
    #FireGoodell

  13. turfdaddy says: Feb 5, 2016 4:30 PM

    Although Goodell is blind to what’s going on in the NFL all the time, I don’t necessarily disagree with him. Did Jake Locker really retire because of health concerns? Calvin Johnson has made $113.8M. Why play anymore if you’re already on the downswing of your career? Patrick Willis was great, but past his prime and made a ton of money. Chris Borland is really the only one that raises questions about it. He’s expressed concerns about concussions as well. That being said, he also made a ton of money in his VERY short career. He got a free educations (no student loans to pay back) and earned as much in one year as most people will earn in a lifetime.

    Again, Roger is blind, but he’s not always wrong.

  14. cjpom664 says: Feb 5, 2016 4:33 PM

    Things are so transparent these days… how dumb does Roger think everyone is? We all know the facts bruh it’s called Google.

  15. gonakgod says: Feb 5, 2016 4:33 PM

    what a joke

  16. JSpicoli says: Feb 5, 2016 4:37 PM

    These are not the droids you are looking for.

  17. maverick2560 says: Feb 5, 2016 4:37 PM

    Roger is delusional if he doesn’t believe that today’s players are
    extremely concerned about their future health. Most players pray
    it doesn’t happen to them and that may contribute to continuing to
    play.The NFl needs to be more proactive in prevention and treatment. Playing games close together does not help. The NFL should lengthen the season but keep the number of games to 16. I don’t believe fans would mind a longer season with less exhibition
    games and the Players wouldn’t mind more time off during the season.

  18. veddermn8 says: Feb 5, 2016 4:47 PM

    Didn’t the 49ers lose like 3-4 players last off season to early retirement? If I was a SF fan, I would call BS….Actually, forget that, I still call B.S.

  19. jerryskidssite says: Feb 5, 2016 4:48 PM

    Once again –
    Transparency issues with NFL Commissioner

    He does the ugly work of keeping the Billionaire owners investments intact.

    Dont expect honesty. Dont expect him to do whats right.

    He is making Mark Cuban right

  20. forthegoodofthegame says: Feb 5, 2016 4:49 PM

    Same Roger Goodell that doesn’t see missed calls by officials deciding games (especially playoff games) as an issue. It’s a mystery to me why the media even shows up at Goodell’s press conferences. The man hasn’t spoken a word of truth in years.

  21. feckyerlife says: Feb 5, 2016 4:52 PM

    All i got from this is Goodell is very concerned.

  22. ebdug says: Feb 5, 2016 5:00 PM

    If bonehead hadn’t mishandled the concussion lawsuit this wouldn’t be happening. It’s just another case of this commissioner watering down the talent in the NFL.

  23. thingamajig says: Feb 5, 2016 5:04 PM

    If I was a multi-millionaire I’d retire early too.

  24. janvanflac says: Feb 5, 2016 5:06 PM

    I love the game but you’d have to be blind not to realize that the longer these guys play, The more likely they will be in poor health for the rest of their lives.

    Maybe it’s time to limit careers to 4 years….double (or triple) the rookie wage scale, then make players retire for their own good. Something drastic needs to happen or there won’t be football in another generation.

  25. jjfootball says: Feb 5, 2016 5:07 PM

    Put a end to the owners discrimination of the oakland raiders franchise, that would be doing something.

  26. newsletterczar says: Feb 5, 2016 5:27 PM

    The “They are going to have to rip the jersey off my back to get me to stop playing” mentality is not nearly as prevalent as it was 2 or 3 decades ago. The players make more money so (hopefully) they have something in the bank which makes it easier to walk away. huh6016 is right about Robert Smith but the role model before him (or Barry Sanders) is the Greatest Of All Time (or in the argument at least) Jim Brown.

  27. dbarnes67 says: Feb 5, 2016 5:28 PM

    Must be paying them too much. They are only leaving early because they can afford to.

  28. tvguy22 says: Feb 5, 2016 5:29 PM

    Including practice squads, about 60 guys per team = 1,920 players. This agenda-pushing piece named 6 players, which is about 3/10 of 1%. Got any more?

  29. cowboy2016 says: Feb 5, 2016 5:32 PM

    Goodell’s got arthritis in his hands from counting through his personal piles of $100 bills. He can totally relate.

  30. j0esixpack says: Feb 5, 2016 5:34 PM

    Friggen NFL

    The cheating of the Commissioner makes any cheating among the players look like child’s play

  31. whispersd says: Feb 5, 2016 5:35 PM

    Patrick Willis specifically said he was retiring because of the accumulated injuries. It is flat dishonest to say that he retired because he was “past his prime” since he was only 30 when he retired. Ray Lewis played into his late 30 and Willis would have done so, too, if he hadn’t had the injuries he had.

    As for Calvin Johnson:
    ” Calvin Johnson has made $113.8M. Why play anymore if you’re already on the downswing of your career?”

    Because he makes $24 million per season? And he won’t if he retires? And he’s still a top WR? Again, decline in his play is more related to injuries than anything else.

  32. whispersd says: Feb 5, 2016 5:37 PM

    dbarnes67 says:
    Feb 5, 2016 5:28 PM

    Must be paying them too much. They are only leaving early because they can afford to.

    ——–

    They are being paid what the market will bear. Perhaps we should bring back slavery so these pesky workers won’t follow their self-interest as capitalists are allowed to do?

  33. followme2boston says: Feb 5, 2016 5:58 PM

    I am not trying to take Goodell’s side, but how is he supposed to answer the question? It was such a clickbait question and the questioner made a huge leap in his question and presumed that Calvin Johnson was retiring due to health reasons without Calvin Johnson stating that is the reason. Maybe dude was like, “100 mil is my mark, once i hit that number I am done.” Maybe he is tired of losing and wants to do something else. Maybe he wants to dance on broadway, there is nothing on the record as to why he is retiring. It is a huge assumption to make that he is retiring at this point due to concussions without any evidence to support it.

    I find it interesting that people are so quick to automatically assume Calvin Johnson is retiring due to concussions without anything on the record from him saying why he is retiring.

  34. rportkid says: Feb 5, 2016 6:20 PM

    At this point we all know Goodell is an incompetent buffoon and a serial liar. Nothing he says has any credibility…not sure why he bothers to give interviews and press conferences…a waste of time. Integrity!

  35. infectorman says: Feb 5, 2016 6:24 PM

    “Maybe he is tired of losing and wants to do something else. ”

    If he’s tired of losing, then why not play out his contract or request a trade and PLAY somewhere else?

    Calvin’s has been a shell of his former self the last 2 years due to compounding effects of injury and age. If he wasn’t getting so banged up every year, he’d be in better shape to continue playing.

    The reasons for his “retirement”, on the surface, are obvious. He wants to walk when he’s 50. Without a wheelchair

  36. putthatkoolaiddown says: Feb 5, 2016 7:00 PM

    I find it interesting that people are so quick to automatically assume Calvin Johnson is retiring due to concussions without anything on the record from him saying why he is retiring.

    Actually, Calvin told anyone that wanted to know why he was hanging them up, and concussions were never mentioned specifically. He did, however, mention mulitple injuries to his back, ankles, fingers, and knees. His decision is about the cumulative effect of the injuries over time.

  37. dsigrey says: Feb 5, 2016 7:30 PM

    He’s pathetic. The whole state of the league is pathetic.

  38. smithdp says: Feb 5, 2016 7:50 PM

    Concussions are significantly a function of mass and speed” HGH is said to increase mass by 20 percent. The leagues current HGH test is a joke as it catches only peopke who have used in the last few hours. There are tests that can detect use over a much longer time period. Until the league implements the better tests they are just lying if they say they are for better player safety.

  39. cinzano08 says: Feb 5, 2016 8:53 PM

    Every player should have hgh mailed to their house under the names of their wives, girlfriends, siblings, uncles, aunts, kids etc and it’s ok. Them it will be a level playing field the way roger the dodger wants it.

  40. gridgod says: Feb 5, 2016 9:54 PM

    Concussions? Drug use? Domestic abuse nightmares? Franchises changing cities? Those things are nothing compared to deflated footballs! Even if Mother Nature did it! INTEGRITY OF THE SHIELD!!!

  41. babygaga19 says: Feb 5, 2016 10:12 PM

    Fan bOY aRMY: Come on now, we all HATE GOODELL and BSPN but we, admit it now, couldn’t live without them! Yes?

    0 0

  42. moknowsbo says: Feb 5, 2016 10:16 PM

    If they cared about player safety or the ravages the game has on the bodies and minds of players, the NFL would at least have guaranteed contracts.

    Only of the Big 4 sports not to have it, despite causing the most short and long term damage to players of any of them.

    Get hurt playing football, your contact doesn’t matter.
    Stadium contract, we’ll pull out of that for more money.

    But if a player wants a raise, he’s uppity…

  43. ikeclanton says: Feb 5, 2016 10:59 PM

    When this guy opens his mouth on any subject at all, does he honestly think (or care, more likely) that people believe him?

    He wouldn’t know “integrity” if it jumped up and bit him.

    This guy has literally sold his soul.

  44. ivanpavlov0000 says: Feb 6, 2016 1:45 AM

    I don’t blame players for walking away while they can still walk.

  45. gimmeabruschi says: Feb 6, 2016 5:53 AM

    What I would like to see, when the day of reckoning comes, is for Goodell to be personally named as a defendant in the class-action suit where tens of millions of his pay are gobbled up in the settlement, and he is ousted in disgrace.

    After he’s broke he could look up Tom Brady for a loan.

  46. GoodellMustGo says: Feb 6, 2016 8:46 AM

    I wonder what Goodell lied about today. You know he has because that’s what he does.

  47. redrew says: Feb 6, 2016 10:10 AM

    If Goodell’s lips are moving, you know he’s lying

  48. bengalsfan2079 says: Feb 6, 2016 11:09 AM

    The NFL will go on but he’s kidding himself if he thinks this. Other circumstances are present as well Calvin probably realizes his prime is gone and he won’t get anywhere with the current state of Detroit. Jake Locker had a way too many injuries in his career and had enough and also probably realized the Titans weren’t going anywhere. Harbaugh leaving probably made Willis and Borelands decisions much easier as well.

  49. richardernsberger says: Feb 6, 2016 11:17 AM

    Goodell is a vastly overpaid PR flack for owners who makes billions off the players. He’s been trying to EXTEND the season, as if playing 16 NFL games–and 17, 18, 19 for some teams–isn’t taking a big enough toll on player health. Make no mistake: it is dawning on players now that pro football damages their long-term health–and increasingly players who made good money will retire sooner rather than later, as they should. The Players Union needs a better rookie contract, a shorter one, as they are getting abused by the current one, which keeps most players (those drafted in the 3rd or after, I think) underpaid for the first four years of their career. A shorter rookie contract will get players their second (better) contract sooner, which will give them the opportunity to get out of the game a little sooner, perhaps, and save their long-term health.

  50. senatorblutarsky says: Feb 6, 2016 11:53 AM

    When Barry Sanders retired at the peak of his game what struck me most wasn’t the fact that he was retiring so young. What I found amazing was that he had never been hurt. And that’s a great way to leave the game.

    Calvin Johnson’s circumstances are different. He’s the best playmaker on the Lions and has been mostly double and sometimes triple teamed on his coverage. As a consequence he has been injured. Numerous times. He’s also made over $100 million during his career.

    Ask yourself. How much money does a man from modest circumstances need to provide for himself, his family, even future generations of his progeny? $25 million? $50 million? $100 million? The only thing money can’t buy is the health and physical soundness you’ve lost playing a violent sport. Once that’s gone players are left with a lifetime of aches, pain, and sometimes disability. I can’t blame these guys for retiring young with a goodly amount of money and their health. They’re smart.

  51. seyheyna says: Feb 6, 2016 11:55 AM

    I feel slightly nauseated whenever Goodell speaks publicly. He has less than 0 credibility or authenticity. It’s sad. I remind myself that he is an employee of the NFL owners and so he speaks for them, he is beholden to them. They all wreak of greed, hubris, and deception and he is merely their shill-a small, extremely well-paid servant of super rich, insulated, tone deaf billionaires. Nonetheless, I love the game of football (emphasis on the game itself, the amazing ability of the players and the excitement of watching them perform at the highest levels) and yet, I will not be too upset when the fiefdom comes toppling down. I hope the concussion settlement appeal and more research into CTE opens up the floodgates and begins to bring the roosters home to roost as it were. I might stop watching before that happens; it might be the credible thing to do.

  52. senatorblutarsky says: Feb 6, 2016 12:30 PM

    janvanflac says:
    Feb 5, 2016 5:06 PM

    I love the game but you’d have to be blind not to realize that the longer these guys play, The more likely they will be in poor health for the rest of their lives.

    Maybe it’s time to limit careers to 4 years….double (or triple) the rookie wage scale, then make players retire for their own good. Something drastic needs to happen or there won’t be football in another generation.
    ________________

    Double or triple the rookie wage scale? Uh uh.
    Do the names Ryan Leaf and Brian Bosworth ring a bell? Maybe Vernon Gholson, Charles Rogers or Jamarcus Russell? All well paid and all money that was wasted and taken out of the game.

    Four year rookie contract and a three or four year extension. Seven or eight years in the game and the second contracts for players will increase in value because of the demand and impending retirements afterwards. If a player want to continue to play (greedy like manning) he can. And owners can insert a codicil into any contract abrogating them from personal responsibility for a player’s health.

  53. senatorblutarsky says: Feb 6, 2016 12:37 PM

    followme2boston says:
    Feb 5, 2016 5:58 PM

    I find it interesting that people are so quick to automatically assume Calvin Johnson is retiring due to concussions without anything on the record from him saying why he is retiring.
    _________________

    Calvin may be retiring for health reasons that are not concussion related. He’s had numerous injuries … ankles, knees as well as surgeries on those ankles and finger. He may feel it’s just time.

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