Long before he was appointed NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell served as a public relations intern for the Jets.
“The team was coming off an AFC Championship appearance. It was Joe Walton’s first year and a lot of things happened in that year,” Goodell told me of his 1983 season with the Green & White. “It was interesting for a young guy like me to be able to see that from the inside. As far as my duties — I did anything, but my main job was to arrange interviews for the players with the media.”
It was our privilege to sit down with Goodell for this special “Four Quarters” interview that was shot inside MetLife Stadium. Much has changed for the Jets and the league since the Commish was a Jets seasonal employee in 1983 and the team played its home games at Shea Stadium in Queens, N.Y.
“It’s spectacular,” Goodell said while looking around MetLife Stadium. “What a great place for fans. It’s a great place to watch a game.”
Walton’s ’83 Jets finished 7-9 and out of the playoffs just one year after Walt Michaels’ ’82 team advanced to the infamous “Mud Bowl” AFC title game in Miami. But Goodell treasured his one-year stint with New York’s AFC representative and the relationships he made.
“Kenny O’Brien and Freeman McNeil and Marty Lyons — these guys, I just had a great relationship with them,” he said. “And I still see them from time to time and they always like to tease me about being their intern and I love that. They’re just great men and so are our players in general. I’m so proud of our players.”
Goodell, on hand at the Met in Week 10 for an NFL Health and Safety Forum for 200 youth football players, has placed an emphasis on the health of his players. As part of the new CBA, the NFL will spend more than $100 million over the next 10 years on concussion research.
“It’s our No. 1 priority and I think the game is safer and more popular than ever. But safety is critical for us,” he said. “The men play a very tough game and we have to make sure we have the right rules in place, we have the right equipment and the right medical attention when injuries do occur. And I believe we have and I think we’ve made improvements on that. And we’ll continue to see those techniques that we want to take out of the game that will make the game safer but still keep the toughness of football and keep the competitiveness of football.”
The 5-5 Jets have been competitive this season again, but they’ve yet to meet their high standards. Over the past few seasons, they’ve become a team with a national appeal and international zeal. Could the Jets be at team targeted for an overseas game in the future?
“They’d be great internationally and they’ve expressed some interest in wanting to do that. The great thing about our international series is as it grows in popularity, more and more teams want to participate and they want to be part of that international series,” Goodell said. “We’re going to expand the international series to be more than one game a year in the U.K. We have one game in Canada and we’d love to get back to Mexico.”
Tags: "Four Quarters", Freeman McNeil, Ken O'Brien, Marty Lyons, NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell
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