|Goodell says NFL will speed disability payments to retired players|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 01 February 2008 22:10|
The issue arose at the Super Bowl this week when more than 30 former NFL stars appeared at a news conference sponsored by Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, which raises money for former players in need.
Among the players' complaints is the league has been slow to compensate disabled retirees, and that the application process is too complicated.
``The players that helped build this game deserve to have a system that's responsive, professionally done, independently done, and that's what we're working on,'' Goodell said during his annual Super Bowl news conference.
``In fact, we have made some changes that I think will take some of the red tape out and make the process, hopefully, simpler to get to the results that we are looking for, which is to have an effective, responsive disability program,'' Goodell said.
Goodell said he spent ``four or five hours'' talking to NFL Players Association chief Gene Upshaw about possible changes in the program.
``I'm confident that we're going to make some changes that are going to be beneficial to our former players,'' said Goodell, who did not elaborate on any changes.
ROOKIE DAY IN CANTON: Among the former players' other concerns is that active players don't appreciate those who built the sport that now provides lucrative salaries.
Along those lines, Goodell endorsed a proposal by former Cowboys star Michael Irvin to bring rookies to the Pro Football Hall of Fame so they can learn about the sport's history.
``(Irvin) mentioned that to me last August at the Hall of Fame that it would be great if all our young players coming into the league could understand the rich tradition, history and the people that helped build that game before they came into the league,'' Goodell said. ``I agree. We're looking to see if we can do that.
``There are some logistics that are difficult to deal with, so I don't know if we're going to be able to accomplish it this year. In the short term, we're looking at alternatives where we may require rookies to come in and spend a day at the Hall of Fame so they can better understand what led to this opportunity that they're about to engage in. I think it's a terrific idea.''
CIRCUS, CIRCUS: Once reserved for mass interviews, Super Bowl media day has become an annual parody, with accredited media members pulling publicity stunts.
This year, a woman from a Mexican television station wore a wedding gown and asked New England quarterback Tom Brady to marry her, attracting more attention than most of the players on either team.
Goodell was asked if media day had become a ``circus.'' His response: Enjoy the show.
``I think it just goes with the increased interest in our game,'' said Goodell, who watched the event on television in New York. ``I think we have so much more interest. We have more accredited media, and our players and our game has become more of a celebrity. That's a great thing.
``On the other hand, I know that you all are doing your work, and you need to have information for our fans,'' Goodell said.
LONDON CALLING: The New York Giants' midseason trip to London for a regular-season game against Miami caused some grumbling at the time.
But coach Tom Coughlin said the trip has paid dividends this week because his players were able to adjust to an unfamiliar schedule.
``That was a trip that I think a lot of our young players can use in leading up to the media extravaganza like this,'' Coughlin said on Friday. ``There was a lot of media coverage in London for our game with Miami.''
The trip disrupted the Giants' regular schedule, but they managed to pull out a 13-10 victory over the woeful Miami Dolphins in Wembley Stadium.
``There were a lot of adjustments and those adjustments were made,'' Coughlin said. ``I thought our team reacted very well to it.''
The London game was played in a downpour on a muddy field. The weather shouldn't be a factor in the Super Bowl. Forecasters say there's a chance of rain in Glendale on Sunday, but University of Phoenix Stadium has a retractable roof.
SUPER SUPER TUESDAY: The police commissioner says New York City is planning for a post-Super Bowl parade Tuesday - aka Primary Day or Super Tuesday. The plans, of course, are contingent on the New York Giants beating the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Commissioner Raymond Kelly says the parade would start near Battery Park, followed by a City Hall Plaza ceremony.
Asked Friday about parade plans, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: ``I have refused to talk about it. I am not going to jinx the Giants' chance.''
He added: ``Go Big Blue!''
New England coach Bill Belichick had a typically muted reaction to word that New York was planning a parade.
``I know there is a lot of talk about, 'Somebody said this, somebody said that, somebody else is doing this, some other town is doing that,' `` Belichick said. ``Whatever it is, this game will be decided by the team that performs the best on Sunday.''