Roger Goodell: Football should “absolutely” be an Olympic sport


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t satisfied with just running the most popular sport in the United States. He wants to see American football grow abroad until it reaches the point where it becomes an Olympic sport.

Goodell told Mike Florio on the Dan Patrick Show that football has taken many of the steps necessary to get recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

“Absolutely. We’re already taking steps to gain that IOC recognition. We have, I think, 64 countries that are playing American football now, and that’s one of the requirements. That’s been growing dramatically — I think it was 40 just five years ago,” Goodell said.

Goodell said he doesn’t have a specific timetable for when that could happen, but he does hope the IOC continues to keep an eye on the growth of the sport internationally. He noted specifically that the NFL has been successful with its annual game in London, and that it won’t be long before the league has two games a year in London — and after that, maybe eight a year.

“Our point is just to keep growing the game,” Goodell said. “We’re having a tremendous reaction in London and the UK for the game of football, our regular season game over there is sold out again this year, we are seriously contemplating as early as 2013 playing two NFL games next season and I think we’ll do that. It’s a response to the tremendous fan reaction and the growth of the game. If we can continue to grow the game there and have the fan reaction that we have, there very well may be a franchise in London.”

With the potential for an NFL franchise in London, and perhaps some day dozens of amateur teams representing their countries by playing football in the Olympics, international expansion is clearly a goal that Goodell wants to be a major part of his legacy as commissioner.

79 responses to “Roger Goodell: Football should “absolutely” be an Olympic sport

  1. USA would take Gold Medal for at least the next 30 years until other countries caught up….be great fun playing Middle eastern countries though…lol

  2. Wow. This would actually be unfair… almost to the point where I would become concerned for the well-being of the other countries. They would get absolutely slaughtered and you would most likely have many players seriously injured.

  3. Commish I’d rather you spend more time trying to figure out why NFL players killing themselves years after retiring and what concussions have to do with that, instead of worrying about the Olympics and playing a bunch of important games in a country that doesn’t care.

  4. Yeah….what owner is going to let their million dollar athletes compete in a sport that takes only one play to end a career? None. Which means it will be played by amateurs not good enough for the pros. Come on, Rog. With the fatigue and wear/tear on the body, there’s no way it could be crammed into an Olympic event in the span of the games or to be permissible to any players currently playing in a semi-pro to pro league.

  5. If it does become an Olympic sport, I hope he’s not envisioning an NBA-like Dream Team of current Pros.

    If these guys are so afraid of injuries that they can’t play for real in the Pro Bowl for a bigger pile of MONEY, what makes you think they’ll risk injuries and go all out for a hunk of metal?

    And will franchises really be willing to risk the health of the top players in the game at every position to a blindside hit from some 3rd world player just learning the game?

    It would make the Guards vs Mean Machine game from The Longest Yard look like a powder puff game.

  6. Unless the majority of the games are played well in advance of the official opening of the games, with only the final 4-8 teams playing during the actual time frame of the games, it won’t work. You can’t expect pro players (or their agents and current teams) to agree to playing games every 2 to 3 days, which would be the alternative.

  7. American football an Olympic sport? That sounds awful.

    Presents a huge scheduling conflict with training camp, regardless if the country sends NFL or college players. (I assume college.) Then there’s the matter of injuries right before the season. At least the NBA guys get a little bit of a break before late October.

    Lastly, as an international community, programs elsewhere are only in a fledgling stage. What’s the point in seeing an established USA stomp them all? Give those countries time.

    It’s a shame baseball overlaps with the Summer Olympics. With so many international-born MLB players, that actually belongs at the Olympic level.

  8. My guess is that they would send college players, but no matter who you send it sounds like a stupid idea. The Olympics are two weeks/17 days, what kind of tourney are you going to get in that time frame.

    Perhaps the better idea is flag football, but I doubt anyone would actually watch it.

  9. Another sport for Americans to dominate.

    You might have a problem at QB though. This isn’t like the NBA when you can switch your star players in and out to give them rest.

    I doubt if Tom Brady wants to be P. Manning’s backup or viceversa and never/rarely get playing time.

  10. Logistically it would be very hard if not impossible to do without moving the start of the NFL season until mid/late September (and thus the SB to almost March). Plus the obvious risk of injuries.

    Most NFL players are American (unlike NBA and MLB which have many more international players and require fewer players anyway) who would make up the other teams? If they were ANY good at all they’d be in the NFL.

    If you think the beatings are bad in basketball, team USA would win every game 77-0 in Olympic football.

  11. I can’t be the only one who thinks Olympic Football would be a disaster. There’s already arguments about adding 2 games to the schedule, let alone an entire Olympic Circuit.

    Is Goodell that naive? This is the most physically tolling sport in the world, and I’d venture to guess it has the highest play-stopping injury rate (probably by far), and you’re asking these athletes who already risk so much of their body to play for millions, to play for free?

    I seem to recall, I think Kobe Bryant, making a statement when the idea of only allowing young players to play Olympic Basketball (because of the injury risk), that during the offseason all these older guys are going to play basketball regardless of whether is Olympics or not. They’re going to go to a school playground, the YMCA, somewhere to play with a bunch of street playing no-names who will be looking for their 15 minutes of fame by playing the famous players rough, and the likelyhood of injury to come from that. And this will be the opposite. Football players don’t play football in the same capacity in the offseason – yeah they might throw the ball around or play touch or flag football, but they’re not out there tackling and hitting and being possibly injured. On an international scene, it’s garunteed that these players from these 64 countries know theres big money in American Football, know that they’re in front of an international audience, and know they have their chance to make a name for themselves. And they’ll take it, regardless of if they’re hitting a guy from Nigeria or if they’re hitting Aaron Rodgers. They’re going to hit, hit hard, and probably with the intent to injure.

    Players from these other countries don’t know yet, because they can’t know through lack of history and experience, how serious player safety is for football players.

    There will be an unprecedented amount of NFL players that will miss the season or large portions of it due to injuries from the Olympics that they’re not being payed for.

    I can’t see any logical reason that a single NFL player would willingly put themselves at the risk of playing in the Olympics. If I were in their shoes, not in a million years.

  12. Now I know it’s time for Goodell to move on. Does he not know that to 99% world out of the U.S. football is soccer to them. You would probaly only have 5 countries competing and like someone posted already the U.S. would dominate for the first few decades if not longer. I think he needs to focus on getting a new deal done with NFL officials.

  13. Sure this would be great to see USA dominate. But in the grand scheme of things it’s moronic.

    – You’d have players in the middle of training camp going overseas to play in the Olympics.

    – Basketball is a significantly less violent sport. Wouldn’t it be grand if Drew Brees or Arian Foster played in the Olympics for the USA and blew out their knees? I’m sure those organizations would be very happy with that result.

    – How would you set up a tournament of teams in a two week Olympic period for football?

    So much wrong on so many levels.

  14. Just let it go. It is almost logistically impossible for football to be an Olympic sport. Too much down time is needed. Unless the football portion would start 4 months early i don’t see how it could be done.

    As for “growing the game” internationally, I believe the novelty aspect is what sells out the games in London. I really do not like how teams give up a reg season home game in order to play in London. These are not exhibition games; these count towards standings and the playoffs.

    I do not see the need to “grow the game” (make more money) at the expense of the game. Change for the sake of change or leaving a legacy is asinine.

  15. Synchronized Diving & Ping Pong are Olympic sports, Hell Yeah American Football should be an Olympic Sport. I bet Chess & Backgammon become Olympic sports before American Football does. Poker as well which would just be a joke.

  16. No. Horrible idea. It would be worse than the Pro Bowl. That is assuming we’re talking about sending NFL players.

    Despite the NFL popularity growing, it’s largely discounted by the world communities and it would just be another basketball, where it’s utterly dominated by the US.

    If it’s not competitive, it doesn’t belong in a world arena.

    Plus, think of what players would have to go through to prepare for the games and how that would impact their time with their teams?

    No NFL team in their right mind would sign off on their players taking the time and risk to play Olympian football, or as it would be called, “American Football” (another huge black mark on the idea from the side of world communities.)

  17. Ok fine, let’s list the other countries that could field a halfway competetive team. Canada, Samoa…..

    Ya, no.

  18. I don’t know, and maybe someone with eye-witness experience can jump in here, but my impression is that just because a bunch of Americans living and working abroad pack into one game a year of football in London, it doesn’t mean the game is popular with Britishers.

  19. I think you would have a hard time fielding an American team. Players that live in America are probably not as interested in putting gold medals around their neck as they are in lining their pockets. You may get some NFL level undrafted free agents and practice squad players that feel like they could catch the eye of an NFL scout by competing in the Olympics, but I think less than 1% of current NFL players would risk injury, and by extension risk their livelihoods playing for their country. Same with college kids risking their scholarships. That said, I hope I am proved wrong one day.

  20. It would end up worse than the the Pro Bowl. The other teams wouldn’t have a chance of competing for the next 15 years, and there’s no way NFL teams would risk injuries so close to the start of the season.

  21. Goodell’s problem is that he puts on his corporate PR hat and says patently rediculous stuff, then wonders where his credibility went when he is trying to be serious.

  22. Now that is dumb!

    “growing the sport” which means increasing the revenue pool for the league and its owners on a world wide level.

    You say there are 64 countries playing American football? I would gladly wager that right now the highschool champions from at least 6 states would kick any of their butts.

  23. Where else do they play our version of football? Canada, I guess, but on a different size field with only three downs. You probably couldn’t even fill an eight-team field, let alone the 32 or so you need for a decent international tournament.

    Rugby makes a lot more sense, since a lot more of the world plays it. Of course, we’re not particularly good at rugby, because if you’re the proper size and speed for rugby in the USA, you’re playing football instead. Rugby here is mostly for guys who weren’t good enough to make the collegiate football team, so they play club rugby instead.

    Also, I couldn’t see a “Dream Team” working out very well in this regard. The pro game is punishing enough with 16 games a year – who’s going to want to throw in another few months of training and practice games and tournaments against overmatched foes who are probably only going to get really frustrated and start taking cheap shots once the score hits about 42-0 in the second quarter?

  24. A mediocre Division III program would destroy anybody. Come on people the level of play from some of these countries would be absolutley atrocious.

  25. Fantasyland simply because we’d never lose. See basketball for an example of how it would go, then multiple it by 10 times worse.

  26. American Football is just that “American” not International. USA and Canada are the only two countries that have decent leagues, the game isn’t even played by country nations.

    99% of players that play this game are American. Impossible for this to ever become an Olympic Sport. Rugby has a better chance at being reinstated rather than football being included.

    American Football growth internationally is tough too, the game requires too much of infrastructure and personnel to be done right. Where as basketball all you need is a hoop and ball, soccer all you need is a ball and a open space…. football is too complicated a model.

    Its ridiculous for Goodell to even entertain the notion. But I guess that’s his job to forecast growth of the sport.

  27. Could you imagine how many points the NFL’s version of the Dream Team would put up? Even more than the 156 the Basketball team dumped on Nigeria last night.

    QB Aaron Rodgers
    QB Drew Brees
    RB Arian Foster
    RB Ray Rice
    FB Vontae Leach
    WR Calvin Johnson
    WR Larry Fitzgerald
    SLOT Wes Welker
    TE Rob Gronkowski
    TE Jimmy Graham

  28. Great USA VS CANADA final, every four years. Actually it could probably be a Winter sport too .. so every two years .. Canada vs USA.

  29. There’s not a CHANCE that any player in the nfl would do this.

    Btw, does Mr Player Safety understand that the players would be playing multiple games over the course of like a week and a half?

  30. Results from 2016 Olympics American Football:

    Gold: USA (TeamA)
    Silver:USA (TeamB)
    Bronze: USA (TeamC)
    4th: USA (TeamD)
    5th: USA (TeamE)
    6th: USA (TeamF)
    7th: USA (TeamG)
    8th: USA (TeamH)
    9th: USA (TeamI)
    10th: USA (TeamJ)

  31. Uh, okay, and exactly who is going to in the Olympic games for the U.S.? No one under contract with an NFL team, that’s for sure. What owner is going to risk a key player playing in what is essentially an exhibition game?

    Would Robert Kraft allow Tom Brady to play, or John Mara allow Eli Manning to play? Uh, no.

    Sorry Roger, but this is not going to happen with NFL players, or any player with NFL aspirations.

  32. They actually tried Rugby in the Olympics way back in the 1924 games I think, not sure about the date, Guess who won the Gold medal?
    USA. With a team made up of mostly Irish Immigrants.

  33. The NFL doesn’t need to grow, it is perfect the way it is. Goodell keeps pushing for growth with an eye on more money. He needs to look at the banking industry as a reference as to what happens when a business gets too big. And expanding into Europe is a dumb idea. Doesn’t he remember NFL Europe? Quit messing with perfection Roger and quit lying to people saying the fans want an 18 game regular season.

  34. 6 games in 2 weeks…yah, ok.

    Only a matter of time before one of these marquee pros blows out a knee and the whole pros in the olympics thing will be over. One can only hope (no olympic pros…not blown knees)

  35. Dream on Rodger. It will never happen! The logistics alone is enough to stop anyone but amatures from playing. Rugby is as close as you will get to the type of contact sport American football is.

  36. I agree with Goodell onmost everything, but no way in hell I want my players getting injured before the season……

  37. Baby steps folks! 1st we create a league overseas and stock it full of players. Not the Rodgers, Bradys or Mannings of the world, but 3rd string and 4th string guys!…. Then we give it a catchy, but not flashy name like..ummm.. AHA.. NFL Europe! I’m telling you it’ll work!

  38. Its not that much of a stretch… There is already a world championship. I believe in Austria last summer… amateur players (mostly D2 and D3 college players) won pretty handedly but Mexico, Germany, Japan, and Canada can hold their own.

  39. if this happened, make it only college kids on the usa team to actually make it somewhat competitive and fun to watch. plus nobody on here wants their team’s star player injured.

  40. You think the NFL is violent? Could you imagine a bunch of countries going at it on the football field? Football is a dirty sport as it is, other countries hate the US and would love to take shots at us. It would be dangerous to send our players out there to play.

  41. The all consuming greed of the NFL is going to be its downfall. This Olympics nonsense is just more greasing of the wheels to get a franchise in London, which will be an utter disaster for the league in the end given the logistical nightmares week in and week out.

    London was not even the best attended NFL Europe franchise (a double fail). After the novelty wears off and “their” team wallows in mediocrity, Londoners will have zero allegiance to attending 10 games a year.

  42. What is the fascination with London? Why not Berlin or Frankfurt? Weren’t the Germans the only ones still fielding teams the last years of NFL Europe?

  43. the only way it could happen is if we used high school players.if it’s in the summer,the games will be when training camp opens for colleges and pros,if it’s in winter,college and pros are still playing until feburary.never gonna have pro players or college players involved! has to be high school kids!

  44. I don’t see this working because of the amount of games played in such a short period of time. However, if this was solved the next issue would be who would want to represent the U.S.? My answer is recently retired players and fringe players ie: arena league. Let’s say Tom Brady plays pro 3 more years and decides to hang it up. Surely if motivated to represent his country he might be convinced to stay in shape long enough to compete. These guys wouldn’t be in their prime but could still be competitive. Brett Favre could have done it this year…

  45. Goodell better hope other countries embrace american football. The games popularity and revenue streams have already peaked in this country. Attendance is dropping for various reasons; advertising is being second guessed by various businesses; there are no major metro areas left for expansion that can support a franchise ( only a relocation ); and many people are simply fed-up with reading the police reports all summer long. The arrogance of the NFL Office is headed for a brick wall.

  46. The Olympic games are supposed to represent the ‘classic’ skills required of ancient Greek marathon runners, track & field, archery, swimming, horse riding etc.

    All other sports are ‘exhibition’ sports; and Gridiron football is just as relevent; (or irrelevent depending on your point of view); as judo, handball and bmx cycle riding.

    IMO, what needs to happen is there ought to be a salary/ income ceiling; ($100k pa ?); applied to all Olympic competitors. If you earn more than that you don’t qualify. That would remove the nonsense of the NBA ‘all-stars’ playing in the basketball tournament. Kobe alone could probably fund the entire Olympic Games.

  47. cause college guys and active players would never risk it, here is your starters:

    RB. LT

  48. Please don’t even think about it. As an Englishman I love the NFL and the games over here are great. However the Olympics should be for sports where a Gold medal is the highest possible achievement, like Swimming, Track and Field, (Amateur) Boxing, Rowing, Cycling, etc.

    Basketball, Tennis and Football (Soccer) have no place in the Olympics because an NBA title, Grand Slam title or Wold Cup will always be a higher achievement than an Olympic Gold Medal.

    I’m all for expanding Pro Football around the world but please don’t pollute the Olympic spirit.

  49. I used to play Tackle for one of the top teams in the UK and even in my prime I would have crapped large brick if I had to go up against an NFL caliber defensive end for even one play, let alone an entire game.

    The rest of the world is just not ready.

  50. Great idea Roger. This will be great for player safety when we face off against Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Goodell is a joke. He needs to shut his mouth.

  51. I just got my laugh for the day/week/month/year!! This is the stupidest thing that i have ever heard. And as far as football in London, any country could sell out 1 game a year.

  52. Here’s how it could work:

    Take over and rebrand the Arena League to “NFL-Arena”. Then return the Arena League to the old “Ironman” rules

    Here’s why.

    1)You only need 20 players or so under the old Ironman rules. That makes it easier for other countries to fill out a roster
    2) Ironman rules (all players except for QB’s, Kickers and 1 specialist) work to the advantage of other countries. Current NFL linemen don’t train to go from rushing the passer to having to block pass rushers. They also don’t have the cardio ability to play without a break (offense in, defense out, visa versa). You’ll have smaller linemen, and you can get those type of players off of Rugby teams.
    3) You can play indoors, in Hockey Arenas. This allows the sport to be played in the Winter Olympics, which makes more sense timing wise for the football players.
    4) The old Arena League had outreach programs to other countries (for example, Australia).
    5) The defense in Arena Style is limited by rules (no tackle twisting, for example, and your defensive linemen have to play one yard off the line of scrimage. You can only blitz one LineBacker.

    The game, when done right, is great to watch. If the NFL ran it, and made it into a QB development league, you’d see a much better product. For the reasons I’ve mentioned above, other countries could develop teams that would be competitive, as we would likely only use non NFL talent on our team (because of the injury risk). I think it would work.

  53. Has there ever been a worse NFL commissioner than Roger Goodell?
    There’s no doubt in my mind that Goodell has the ability to destroy America’s favorite sports league…
    Pete Rozelle must be spinning in his grave.

  54. Actuallt, Goddell or “LeGod” is the perfect commissioner for your league. He will lead you to the promised land of “ruling” the world of sports. Great job, “LeGod”

  55. The idea of playing football in the Olympics is assinine but the idea of having an NFL team from London is a good idea,the London Beefeaters or London Jousters comes to mind since the London Broils and London Bridges just dont sound right.London in the NFL would create many new high paying jobs for a whole lot of people from players to locker room wouldnt be a problem,I went there from Minneapolis and it wasnt that bad a trip at all.

  56. I miss Tagliabue. This guy is a going to be the architect of the downfall of the NFL. From extra games, to a team in London, to diluting the game experience by pushing WIFI in stadiums, to his dictator like hold on the league. Everything this guy does or says makes me dislike him more.

    Does he have a single good initiative?

  57. American Football overseas is equal to what soccer is in the U.S as far as popularity….American Football won’t be as popular as soccer any time soon in Europe and soccer wont be as popular as American Football anytime soon….the famous sports quote, “it is what it is” fits here….you can’t change fans of sport very easily….

  58. Could Goodell take the dollar signs out of his eyes for a minute and use some common sense. After the US football team destroys Nigeria, Suraname, Brazil, Australia, Great Britian , Canada theyll have to play a real team. Of course there is none. Anywhere. These guys wont even play an all-star game in Hawaii for $80,000 you think there gonna fly 5,000 miles to some 3rd world hell hole in 10 years to play football in July for free?

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