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Goodell reflects on rocky year for himself, NFL and vows improvement

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A controversy-laden season that ends Sunday with Super Bowl XLIX has been a year of “humility and learning’’ for embattled NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“Listen, it has been a tough year,” Goodell said at Friday’s State of the League address. “It has been a tough year on me personally. We obviously, as an organization, have gone through adversity but more importantly it has been adversity for me. That is something we take seriously. It’s an opportunity for us to get better. We’ve all done a lot of soul searching, starting with yours truly. And we have taken action.”

Domestic violence and child abuse cases from Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rocked the league. Weaved in were allegations of a cover up by the league and unfair punishments, which were later enhanced.

More recently, the deflategate controversy and battle with the NFLPA over the league’s new personal conduct policy came to light. It all put Goodell under fire.

Asked if he could envision a scenario where he would resign as commissioner, Goodell answered defiantly,“No, I can’t. Does that surprise you?”

Goodell focused on the progress the NFL has made in the last year, claiming a 68 percent decrease in hits to defenseless players and a drop in concussions from 173 in 2012 to 111 in 2014.

“We’ve made enormous progress,” Goodell said. “Things we didn’t know, and where we were in August, is not where are today. We’re in a good place.”

He also introduced multiple initiatives the NFL will work on in the offseason while announcing the creation of a new “Chief Medical Officer” for the league. The position will, “oversee our medical related policies, ensure that we update them regularly and work closely with our medical committees, advisors and the player’s association.”

The NFL will also continue its work on concussion prevention and protocols while exploring alternatives to the extra point attempt. The goal posts were narrowed from 18.6 feet to 14 feet apart for the Pro Bowl last Sunday and were moved back to the 15-yard line making it a 33-yard kick.

“The extra point has become virtually automatic,” Goodell said. “We’ve experimented with alternatives to make it more competitive play and we ‘ll expect and advance these ideas through the competition committee.”

Other possible reforms include instant replay on penalties and expanding the playoff format to include more teams. Both came with caveats from Goodell, who doesn’t want to further disrupt the pace of play or interrupt the end of the college football season.

While Goodell is trying to move the league forward, he still took accountability for the NFL’s missteps in 2014 and vowed to improve in the future.

“This is my job,” Goodell said. “This is my responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. All of us want to make sure the rules are being followed. If there’s information the rules are being violated, I have to pursue that and I have to pursue that aggressively.”