#DigSportsDesk - The Lede

NFL: Disaster Zone

NEW YORK, September 19, 2014 -- Following is the a transcription as distributed by the NFL on NFLMedia.com representing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's opening statement in a press conference on Friday in New York regarding the league and domestic violence:

"Good afternoon. Thank you for coming today. I'd like to make a few points and then I'll be happy to take your questions.

At our best, the NFL sets an example that makes a positive difference. Unfortunately, over the past several weeks, we have seen all too much of the NFL doing wrong. That starts with me.

I said this before, back on August 28th, and I say it again now -- I got it wrong in the handling of the Ray Rice matter. I am sorry for that.

I got it wrong on a number of levels -- from the process that I led to the decision that I reached. But now I will get it right and do whatever is necessary to accomplish that. First, I don't expect anyone just to take my word. Last week, I asked former FBI Director Robert Mueller to conduct an independent investigation to answer the questions raised about our process in reviewing Ray Rice's conduct. I pledged that Director Mueller will have full cooperation and access. We all look forward to his report and findings. I promise you that any shortcomings he finds in how we dealt with the situation will lead to swift action. The same mistakes can never be repeated. We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that we are thorough in our review process and that our conclusions are reliable. We will get our house in order first.

Second, and most importantly, these incidents demonstrate that we can use the NFL to help create change not only in our league but in society with respect to domestic violence and sexual assault. We are taking a number of steps. I said on August 28th that the entire NFL would receive comprehensive information on resources and support systems for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. We will re-examine, enhance and improve all of our current programs -- and then we'll do more. Earlier today, each NFL club and all of our league office locations received information about advocacy and support organizations in their communities. In addition, our teams and league staff --- everyone -- will participate in education sessions starting in the next month -- followed by training programs. These programs are being developed by a top group of experts. Some of them were announced earlier in the week. We will continue to identify and add expertise to our team. And we will ask the NFL Players Association to help us develop and deliver these programs in the most effective way.

Third, we recognize that domestic violence and sexual assault exists everywhere, in every community, economic class, racial and ethnic group. It affects all of us. These are problems we are committed to addressing. But we cannot solve them by ourselves. Law enforcement, the criminal justice system, social service organizations and families are the cornerstones to addressing this problem. For our part, we can and will do more. To begin, we have entered into a long-term partnership with two leading national organizations -- the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The hotline received an 84 percent increase in their call volume last week. They did not have the resources to answer nearly half of the calls. They need help. We are providing it.

Fourth, we strongly -- strongly -- condemn and will punish behavior that is totally unacceptable. Domestic violence, including child abuse, sexual assault, irresponsible ownership or handling of firearms, the illegal use of alcohol or drugs -- these activities must be condemned and stopped, through education and discipline. Our standards, and the consequences of falling short, must be clear, consistent and current. They must be implemented through procedures that are fair and transparent. This is the central issue today. I'm here now because our rules, policies and procedures on personal conduct failed to ensure that this high standard is met. But I want to make it clear. These are complex issues. Our country has a legal system that everyone needs to respect.

When there is evidence of misconduct by anyone in the NFL, we need to carefully consider when to act and on what evidence. Everyone deserves a fair process. You know I feel passionately that working in the NFL in any capacity is a privilege -- something we must earn every day and do not take for granted. The vast majority of players, coaches, owners and employees of the NFL stand tall, not only for their role in the game, but for what they do in their communities.

To get all of this right, we will bring together our players and their union representatives, coaches, owners and outside experts who can help us set the right standards and identify the right procedures. I have discussed these challenges with the Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith. He shares my view that domestic violence and sexual assault have no place in the NFL. He and I will meet next week to bring together experts to help us establish and live up to the standards that our fans deserve, and that we set for ourselves. I will be asking these experts to examine all current NFL policies related to employee and player conduct and discipline. They will address how to balance due process rights for those accused with the need to hold our personnel to the highest standards. They should also consider the current system for determining violations, including my role in the process.

There will be changes to our personal conduct policy. I know this will happen because we will make it happen. Nothing is off the table. Let me say it again -- we will implement new conduct policies. They will have a set of clear and transparent rules for league and club personnel, owners and players. My goal is to complete this work by the Super Bowl.

Football and the NFL have always changed and improved. We drive changes in the game through our Competition Committee. It reviews and updates the rules that govern the game on the field. Through this process of evaluation and reform, we keep the game competitive, entertaining, fair and -- most important -- as safe as possible for our players. We go to enormous lengths to make sure that players, coaches, officials, fans, our broadcast announcers -- everyone in the NFL -- fully understand our playing rules and how they are enforced.

That must now be our model when it comes to personal conduct. So, like the Competition Committee and other league committees, I am establishing a Conduct Committee to review these new rules in the months and years to come and ensure that we are always in line with best practices.

There is no reason we cannot be as transparent and as effective on these issues as we are with the game on the field.

I believe in accountability. I understand the challenge before me and I will be held accountable for meeting it.

Every day, so many of our players, coaches and staff are doing tremendous things in their communities. I couldn't be more proud of how they are using their opportunity to help make a positive difference.

Today, I ask everyone that is part of the NFL to join me in making positive and significant changes going forward.


Goodell's Q & A Meltdown

NEW YORK, September 19, 2014 -- Following is the transcription distributed by the NFL on NFLMedia.com on the question and answer period of Commissioner Roger Goodell's press conference Friday in New York regarding the league and domestic violence. The only editing added was to delineate between questions from the media (Q:) and Goodell's responses (RG:).
 

--Q: If any of these victims had been someone you loved, would you be satisfied with the way the league has handled this crisis and what would you say to them?
 

--RG: I'm not satisfied with the way we've handled it from the get-go. As I told you, and this statement indicates, I made a mistake. I'm not satisfied with the process we went through, I'm not satisfied with the conclusions. And that's why we came out last month and said: we're going to make changes to our policies. We made changes to our discipline. We acknowledge the mistake, my mistake. And we said we're going to do better moving forward. We have a set of very complex issues that we have to deal with. That's no excuse. What we need to do is go and get some experts to help us. How do we do this better? How do we restructure our personal conduct policy? To make sure that we educate, we train, we do everything possible to kick that mark for all of us. And when don't' there'll have to be consequences for that. So I'm not satisfied with what we did. I let myself down, I let everybody else down. And for that I'm sorry as I mentioned earlier. That's what we're going to correct and that's what we're going to fix.
 

--Q: Roger, you've had pretty extreme unilateral power in deciding discipline. But as you've said a few times, you've gotten it wrong in a few cases and that tends to happen when there's not checks and balances. How willing are you to give up some of that power and do you think that that would be the right thing to do?
 

--RG: Rachel, as I said in my statement, everything is on the table. We're going to make sure that we look at every aspect of the process of how we gather information to make decision, how we make that decision and then the appeals process. All of that is on the table and all of that is important information that we want outside experts to give us some perspective on. And see if there is a better way to do it. We believe there is and we believe we need it. We can't continue to operate like this.
 

--Q: Also you've mentioned on TV last week that you guys checked and tried to get the Ray Rice video and any information. The AC prosecutor's office in an open records check says that they don't have any electronic communication from the NFL asking for those kinds of documentation or the video. Can you give us sort of the trail of how you guys did that investigation so that people can know really what you put into it?
 

--RG: Certainly our security department works with law enforcement. They are fully cooperative. We gather almost entirely all of our information through law enforcement. And that's something else we're going to look at, Rachel, is that the right process? Should all of our information be gathered simply through law enforcement? We understand and respect what they go through and what job they have to do. And there are certain restrictions that they may be under.
 

--Q: But they're saying they don't have a record of you guys asking for it.
 

--RG: We asked for it on several occasions, according to our security department. We went through it. We asked for it on several occasions over the spring all the way through June. From February through June. So I'm confident that our people did that and so that's something that we'll have to discuss directly with them.
 

--Q: I was in Minnesota on Sunday and I saw a mother with her two kids, both wearing Adrian Peterson jerseys. And she said, "I'm conflicted about this, I don't know what I should do. He's their favorite player." Obviously we had similar situation in Baltimore with Ray Rice. We've heard from the sponsors, they voiced. What is your message to the mother with the two kids who has Peterson jerseys and doesn't know what to tell them?
 

--RG: The first thing is that we're like the broader society in several ways. We're like a microcosm of society. We have a lot of young men, a lot of individuals that play or coach or executives. Other individuals in the league that -- they make mistakes. And that is something that, while I'm disappointed in what Adrian Peterson was involved with, we want to see the facts. But I think what we've seen so far is tragic -- it's hard to look at. I have two daughters who are 13. It's very difficult to see and I think what we have to do is allow those facts to proceed. But the important message, I think for all of us as parents is that our children are going to make mistakes. They need to learn how to take responsibility and be accountable for those mistakes and deal with those. That's something that I and my wife Jane, we work very hard on with our kids. When you make a mistake, be accountable for it.
 

--Q: In 2012 after Bounty-gate, you suspended Sean Payton for a year. You said "ignorance is not an excuse." A lot of people think you're not holding yourself to that same standard. Have you considered resigning at any point throughout this?
 

--RG: I have not. I'm focused on doing my job to the best of my ability. I understand when people are critical of your performance. But we have a lot of work to do that's my focus. We've been busy in the last couple of weeks, we have results to show for it. We talked about some of them in my statement. But I'm proud of the opportunity that we have to try to make a difference here and do the right thing. We've acknowledged that we need to change what we're doing, now we have to get to what are those changes going to be?
 

--Q: There's been a lot of high-profile, high level calls for your resignation. Following up on that question, what would you say to those people? Why do you feel that you should be able to continue in this role?
 

--RG: Because I acknowledged my mistake. August 28th, I said: "we didn't get this right." We're going to make changes and are making those changes. We have a lot more work to be done but we're moving in a very important direction by getting expertise to say how do we do this better? We're all as a society having difficulty being able to deal with this. The NFL's got to take care of its house as I said. That's my focus is how do we do this better as the NFL and make sure that we keep everything on the table. We're going to make sure that we look at every aspect from the collection of evidence to how we go through the process, to who makes the determination and what the appeal process is. We'll make those changes that I feel will be beneficial to the league long-term. In addition, I think we can make some change and I think they'll be positive in the domestic violence and sexual assault areas, child abuse areas. Those are things that we think we can make a big difference on at some point in time. But we've better get our house in order first.
 

-Q: You mentioned due process in your statement. Right now there is a lot of inconsistency. Ray McDonald is playing, Greg Hardy is not, Adrian Peterson is not, Jonathan Dwyer is not. You've got some guys on the exempt list, you've got some guys on the non-football illness list. Again I know you mentioned that you want to take a look at due process and when to act. That's a bit of slippery slope. How do you plan to handle that and do you have a list of what these guys are?
 

--RG: You're highlighting exactly the point, Mike. That we need to change our policies and our procedures and we need to get some help in trying to identify how to do that. We have state laws that are different from state-to-state, and even locally. We need to make sure that we have looked at when the NFL should be involved in the investigative process. We need to know how much reliance we should have on the law enforcement information. And so you're highlighting exactly this issue which is that we aren't -- we do not have a clear and consistent policy that allows us to deal with all of the different issues that are arising and that's why we talked last month about 'we need to change our policies.' We need to go and get some experts to help us deal with some of those issues that are very complex about due process and making sure that we allow our employees the opportunity to be able to defend themselves but also make sure we're maintaining the integrity of the league and what we're doing. We have an obligation there and we're prepared to do that and we are going to do that.
 

--Q: In your interview with CBS News almost two weeks ago you said Ray Rice was ambiguous about his description about what happened in the elevator and that is why you went back and suspended him further after the video came out. What exactly did Ray Rice tell you happened in the elevator? And how did what you thought in your mind happened differ from what we saw on the video?
 

--RG: A couple of things. First off, as I said, we got new information from the first time I met with him to my initial discipline, which three weeks later I acknowledged was not sufficient. It was clear there was an act of domestic violence, but it was inconsistent with the way he described what happened. When we had that new information, we had the ability to say 'we're going to object and we're going to take additional action.' And that's what we did. There was new information that developed because we had not seen that second tape that became public roughly 10 days or so ago and that was not consistent with what he said.
 

--Q: Commissioner, what did he say? What did he tell you?
 

--RG: The one issue with this is this is now a matter of appeal. As you know, the NFLPA has appealed this. So it's a matter that is going to be taken up in the appeal. So without pre-judging or without getting into any specifics on this one I've got to respect the appeals process right now.
 

--Q: But what about transparency? You keep talking about transparency. Why not say what he said?
 

--RG: I'm telling you right now that it's inconsistent with what he told us, what we saw on that video that came out roughly 10 days ago. But we have a process right now. We have an appeals process. That information will come out at some point in time.
 

-Q: The appeals process is not about those details, the appeals process is about multiple punishments for the same crimes. So given that fact that what he in fact did is not what the question is about.
 

RG: Peter, I'm going to have to disagree with you then. That's something that the appeals officer is going to have to determine. We had not seen all of the papers on appeals. It is a fact that there is an appeal and they may be able to raise several issues in the context of that appeal. That's a decision that they have to make. I can't make that.
 

--Q: Commissioner, you mentioned the two women's groups that NFL will be working with, can you tell how you will be assisting them. And to follow that up, if the 32 owners had a vote today about whether or not you should keep your job, what do you think the results would be?
 

RG: That's a hypothetical which I can't deal with. We had 20 owners in the office this week for pre-scheduled committee meetings in preparation for our league meeting next month and we are just focusing on getting our work done. We had very productive meetings with them. The first part of your question was about the different organizations. What we saw in our contact -- because of the attention that was brought by the Ray Rice matter and potentially other issues coming to light -- this is something that became a need for what our experts tell us was happening in the community. What is happening is that it is clear there is a need for people to seek help in all communities. That's why they saw a spike in this. What we want to do is provide assistance to them and that was something we could do. We said to them that we want to be involved. We want to help and we will provide resources and assistance to be able to make sure that you can get the personnel there so that you can be able to answer those questions. We're pleased to be able to do that and we should be providing that type of assistance.
 

--Q: The AP report about the video being sent to your office cites a voice mail where someone confirms receiving it. With that in mind how do you explain the leagues denial that they had the video?
 

--RG: That's exactly why, as I mentioned in my statement, we hired Robert Mueller, the longest-serving FBI director, to make sure that Mueller and his staff go through and find as many facts as they can and they will report. It's independent. I don't know where he is on that. But all of that information will be something that Director Mueller will be dealing with.
 

--Q: You've been clear throughout your tenure that you would be hard on people who committed crimes. Why do you think that the domestic violence crimes, such as Ray Rice, gave you such a difficult time and maybe weren't treated as harshly as some other crimes?
 

--RG: I said early on that we made a mistake in letting our standards fall below where they should be. We should have had our personal conduct policy reviewed more frequently to make the changes necessary to deal with the issues of change. We last changed that policy on a broad perspective in 2007. It's had a positive impact on the overall number of criminal activity. But what we need to do is go back and say, 'Okay. We are in a different age now, with different issues and different challenges. Let's go back and figure out how to do that again.' And then do it in a consistent and fair way.
 

--Q: Was there something about the domestic violence crimes -- these specific ones -- that made it more difficult to adjudicate them?
 

--RG: I think the policy itself was, again, not up to standards. The standard discipline for that was way below what it should be. When we saw the first video it was horrifying. We went through the process and we disciplined it consistent with that policy. That wasn't sufficient, as I said. That was a mistake. We have to go back in our policy to say this isn't sufficient discipline. We met with a variety of experts on this. We came to a conclusion of what the discipline would be, at least as a standard, with aggravating circumstances, that could allow us some flexibility. Also, we would banish on a second offense. We took a strong position saying this is not acceptable. Now we have to get back into the more difficult work. How do we understand when the NFL should get involved in a particular situation with law enforcement with the criminal justice system? And how do we make sure our policies will give us the flexibility to deal with state laws that vary from state to state and to give us the consistency so that is more simple to make those decisions on a fair consistent basis.
 

--Q: Do you still believe, to the best of your knowledge, that no one in the NFL office has seen the Ray Rice video before it surfaced on TMZ?
 

--RG: Yes.
 

--Q: Do you believe that right now, you have the full support of all 32 owners in the NFL, backing you in what you're doing right now?
 

--RG: I believe I have the support of the owners. That has been clear to me. They obviously expect us to do a better job. As I said to several people, I don't' like to let down anybody. It starts with myself. I hold myself to the highest possible standards. So when I make a mistake or I don't get something right, it bother me more than anybody. I think the owners have seen that in me. I think they know that we have always tried to do the right thing. Mistakes happen and I'm sorry for that. We're going to get this right.
 

--Q: You've announced a new personal conduct committee. What will your role be with that? Are you reducing your role or your power in these kinds of cases by having that committee?
 

--RG: We will have to develop it further to see who will be on it and whether we will have outside expertise that will join that. It's really about what are the standards and what's the conduct we want in the NFL. How do we want to represent ourselves and what's important to us as a league? We want to make sure that we are holding ourselves to that standard and maybe exceed it. That's the right thing, we want to exceed every single standard we set. That's what I expect this conduct committee to do. Similar to the competition committee, how do we improve everything we are doing? Evaluate it on a regular basis. If our personal conduct policy needs to be changed and updated we need to do that and I expect that the conduct committee would do that.
 

--Q: A number of corporate sponsors have put our disapproving statements in the last week. How many difficult conversations have you had with your business partners and how many have suggested that if things did not improve they would pull out and did you specifically talk to Anheuser Bush. Who put out a specifically disapproving comment?
 

--RG: It starts with myself. I am disappointed in myself. I disappointed our fans, our partners and we need to do better. I made that clear on August 28th to our ownership. And I've made it clear since. I made it clear to sponsors directly that we are going to do better in this area. There are things that we need to clean up in our house and make sure that we get right and we will. And we will make a difference in this area. Now we have to deliver.
 

--Q: Were you close to losing a sponsor?
 

--RG: You'll have to speak to the sponsors about that. I don't believe so. No.
 

--Q: Just to piggy back off of that question. What are your thoughts that Procter and Gamble pulled its sponsorship plug today?
 

--RG: We've been in contact with our sponsors. Several of them have promotions in the marketplace that are inconsistent with what's going on here and we understand that. What we said is that we are going to clean up our house. We are going to get this straight and we are going to make a difference and they want to see us make that difference. That's up to deliver on that. They want to see us achieve that. They are not looking for talk they want to see action. That's what we are looking for. That's why we've been focused over that couple weeks so hard on getting it right. Doing the things we said we were going to do and get it right and do the hard work. This is not a quick fix this is something we've got to work hard at and we will.
 

--Q: You talked about establishing a personal conduct committee and you said the goal was to be completed by the Super Bowl. What is to be completed by the Super Bowl? Because aren't these issues constantly evolving personal issues?
 

--RG: Yes and that's why we want to get to work immediately. The conduct committee is not the committee that I would expect to make the changes in the personal conduct policy. What we have to do, and I spoke to De about this, is reach out for experts in the area. Some may be in law enforcement, some may be in the criminal justice system, some may be experts in the domestic violence or sexual assault or child abuse areas and bring all of those experts and their views on this of how we can improve the policy. Everything from how we collect information to when the NFL is involved with law enforcement or do we have a separate investigation? And those are all difficult issues to ensure them due process. Anybody is involved but also make sure we are maintaining the integrity of the NFL.
 

--Q: So the idea is to have the committee in place by the Super Bowl or to start making some of those decisions?
 

--RG: I expect I will have the committee in place by the Super Bowl, yes.
 

--Q: I wondered if you personally have ever been involved in n abuse situation in any capacity and then secondly if you anticipate any personnel changes if not change in commissioner, how can you bring meaningful change and credible change and change the culture and change the attitude without a change in personnel?
 

-RG: The first answer to your question is I have not. The second answer to your question is we are making personnel changes. We announced several of them over the last week. We have more to come. We're looking to see how do we strengthen our team in this area, how do we bring the right voices to the table to make changes not only to what we do, but more broadly. And so I expect personnel changes will continue, that's part of how we get better, that's part of how we evolve and learn from our mistakes and do a better job going forward.
 

--Q: Two things, one is when you made the original suspension two games were any women advising you? And second, in the personal conduct policy that you're revising, are you willing to put that into the CBA?
 

--RG: On the first one I think you are pointing out exactly what we're concerned about. It's that we didn't have the right voices at the table. We need to get better expertise. Some of you know, we announced earlier this week that Lisa Friel is joining us as a former chief of sex crimes in downtown New York. I think she is going to be able to provide a very valuable perspective for us -- an understanding of the criminal justice system, particularly in this area and those are the types of people we want to have as part of our organization, as part of our decision making process.
 

--Q: There's a lot of confusion from fans out there about the mistake you say that you made. You talk about your investigative department at the NFL, regardless of what Mr. Rice said on June 16, regardless of what was on that second video tape, on the initial summons, it clearly says that Mr. Rice struck Janay Palmer with his hand rendering her unconscious. Why wasn't it enough then to put this right?
 

--RG: Well it was, and we saw obviously the original video and it was clear that a domestic violence violation had occurred. That was clear to us and it was horrifying and that's why we took the step we did. We did the two-game suspension and a fine of $500,000. It was not sufficient and that's because our policies, as I indicated earlier, had fallen behind where we need them to be. We needed to get those policies in a position where the standard for that kind of violation has to be much higher. And that's why three weeks later we raised that standard and said this is not going to be acceptable behavior and when it occurs, it's a minimum six-game, or the standard six-game, with aggravating circumstances that we could consider and have additional penalties if necessary.
 

--Q: You mentioned Robert Mueller's investigation as key to solving all of these issues, I'm not going to sit here and discuss the integrity of the ex-Director of the FBI, I could leave it as a given that he's a man of integrity, but the law firm that he works for and that will help him carry out that investigation is a law firm with extremely close ties to the NFL. You guys paid that law firm recently to help you negotiate some television deals, the President of the Ravens will be key in this whole investigation, worked at that law firm for more than 30 years, why hire someone with even the appearance of impropriety and how do you expect this to affect everything?
 

--RG: Well, Rachel, I would respectfully disagree because you now are questioning the integrity of the Director of the FBI. Yes, that firm has represented us in the past, but they have also been on the other side in litigation against the NFL. So, this is a highly respected individual that served as Director of the FBI, the longest-serving Director in the history of that position. His credentials are unparalleled and unquestioned.
 

--Q: But part of the idea of this I guess is to restore public trust. So even if he does a flawless investigation, isn't there an element here that you're leaving the door open for doubt?
 

--: RG: Well, Rachel, unfortunately we live in a world where there's a lot of litigation. There's a lot of law firms a lot for people that had maybe some interaction with us in the past. Robert Mueller has not. Law firms may have, but we were hiring Robert Mueller and his credentials, his credibility to do an independent investigation reporting to the owners and I am confident that that will be the case.
 

--Q: Has Robert Mueller interviewed you? It's been a week since you announced it.
 

--RG: That is something that Robert Mueller is going to have to announce. We are not disclosing or involving, he's running an independent investigation. He will meet with anybody he wishes whenever he wishes. He will get full cooperation from me or anybody else in the building. I am not making any comments specifically on the investigation. He has full access. If he feels he wants to speak to anybody, he will do that.
 

--Q: I have to go back into the video and your curiosity to see the video. You suspended Ray Rice after our video, why didn't you have the curiosity to go to the casino yourself?
 

--RG: Two things. We suspended Ray Rice originally after seeing the original video that was disclosed back in February. When the second video came out last week, that's when we increased our discipline because that was inconsistent with the information we had, it was new information. One of the things that I said in my statement, and I've said it repeatedly here, is that that is part of what we want to do with all of our experts, outside, internal, is try to figure out how should we investigate these issues? In the past, we have been almost completely reliant on working with law enforcement and cooperating with them. We do not want to interfere with a criminal investigation. In particular here, when you're dealing with a casino in New Jersey, there are even more restrictions because it's overseen I believe by the Attorney General. So, we have to be very cautious in not interfering with a criminal investigation, but we'll evaluate that. Should we do more to get that information? I would have loved to see that tape. Should we get more to do that information in the future? That's a question I want these experts to do.
 

--Q: We found out by one phone call, you guys have a whole legal department. Can you explain that?
 

--RG: I can't explain how you got the information, only you can do that.
 

--Q: Do you regret having Ray and Janay Rice in the same room together when you met with them and secondly, have you decided who will be hearing the appeal for Ray Rice in your office?
 

--RG: I have not on the second part of your question. I'll be making that decision shortly. Someone else will be hearing that case. On your first part is, yes. Its part of the learnings that we've had throughout this is that there are certain proper ways of having those kinds of discussions when couples are going through domestic violence issues and we have learned that. And we have learned that from our experts, they said we shouldn't have them in the same room or we should give them the opportunity to speak separately also. And that's something that we have learned from this and we will correct going forward.
 

--Q: What do you say to the one individual in the NFL right now under scrutiny who has been convicted of attacking his girlfriend? What's your language that you would say to him if he were standing in front t of you?
 

--RG: We're disappointed in where he is. We think what he did and what he was involved with, at least what's alleged in the court records -- he was convicted and then what happens when he appeals that is it's wiped out until he goes to a jury trial. Again, you're highlighting exactly the issue that we're concerned about, which is when do we engage? There was a conviction, it then gets removed until the jury trial and then should we let that go all the way through?
 

--Q: It's obvious when you look out on the field, a lot of these players, it's a diverse crowd, a lot of the players that have been highlighted recently are African-American. Can you justify not having an African-American as part of that group of women that you hired to look into sexual assault and domestic violence?
 

--RG: That's not true. We have internal experts that have been working on this that are people of color, that are women and men and they have been involved in this process from the beginning. In addition, as I've said in my statement, is that we will continually evaluate. Do we need other resources, do we need other individuals, do we need other organizations?
 

--Q: Can you talk about that organization that's supposed to be the forefront of domestic violence and sexual assault, was there any consideration talking about the women who are at the forefront advising on those issues?
 

--RG: Those three women are advising us, as well as we have full-time staff including an African-American woman who has great experience in this area and has been involved in this for several years with the NFL and has been on the NCAA level. So we understand the need for diversity, it's important for us and we will always look to do whatever we can to improve on that.


NFL: Training Day

NEW YORK, September 19, 2014 -- Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to team owners that all NFL personnel will undergo domestic violence awareness training. The letter stated that personnel and staff will be required to undergo training on the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault starting within 30 days.

"These initial sessions will begin to provide the men and women of the NFL with information and tools to understand and recognize domestic violence and sexual assault," Goodell's letter sent on Thursday stated. "We will work with the NFL Players Association to develop and present this training in the most effective way."

The training is the latest effort by Goodell to address public and sponsor strong criticism of the league's response to domestic violence and child abuse in the wake of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice's suspension and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's arrest.

The letter also informs owners of new partnerships with several groups, including funding for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, an online forum for teens called Loveisrespect that offers chat advice on dating abuse and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

"These are by no means final steps," Goodell concluded in the letter. "We will continue to work with experts to expand and develop long-term programs that raise awareness, educate, and prevent domestic violence and sexual assault both within the NFL and in our society in general."
NFL sponsors have become louder with their criticism this week. The Radisson hotel chain put its support of the Vikings on hiatus after the team reinstated Peterson following an indictment for child abuse. The team has since placed him on the exempt/commissioner's permission list.

Radisson said Wednesday that it was sticking with its earlier decision to back away from team sponsorship.

Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, said she was "deeply disturbed" by the recent events around the league.

According to CBS Sports, Procter & Gamble has pulled out of the league's plans for breast cancer awareness in October. Each year, the NFL dons pink to celebrate women in October.


NE Patriots Report:

FOXBOROUGH, September 15, 2014 -- The New England Patriots returned from Minnesota on Sunday night with a 1-1 record following a 30-7 victory, but not as many questions were answered against the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings as the final score might seem to indicate.

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    A week after earning nine penalties in a loss to the Miami Dolphins, New England more than doubled that with 15 enforced penalties in Minnesota, most ever for the Patriots under coach Bill Belichick.

    The flags were spread pretty well amongst the team, and on both sides of the ball. Things were so bad at one point that left tackle Nate Solder was called for three penalties on a two-play stretch, obviously including two on one snap.

    Through two weeks of NFL action, with only the Monday Night Football game to be played, New England had an NFL-worst minus-179 penalty yards differential. The second-worst team was the Jets at minus-132, and the two AFC East foes with very different coaches were the only NFL squads at minus-100 or worse.

    So after breaking down the film from the win, Belichick made it clear that the penalties were one of the major areas of concern moving forward, one that he "absolutely" was focused on cleaning up.

    "Fifteen penalties accepted and there were several early ones where we had multiple fouls on the same play and (163) yards, it's way too much. We can't keep doing that," Belichick said. "We had a lot of penalties last week, we had a lot of penalties this week and it's not just the penalties it's the yardage, it's too many personal fouls. We had two interference penalties on their last drive that got them almost down there the whole length of the field. It must have been almost 60 yards in penalties it seemed like. Things like that, we just can't afford them.

    While Solder leads the team with four penalties, 19 different New England players have had a penalty thus far. Six have had multiple.

    It's a team-wide, 53-man issue.

    "One is too many. If each player gets one penalty, we'd set an all-time record," Belichick said. "It can't be well, 'I just had one penalty.' We have to play penalty-free. We have to do a better job of that. We have to coach it better. We have to, not that we haven't spent a lot of time on it because we have, but that's certainly an area that we need to improve in."

    It was a problem that played a role in defeat in Miami in Week 1. It wasn't as big an issue in Week 2, thanks in large part to Minnesota playing without Peterson while quarterback Matt Cassel was throwing four interceptions.

    But Belichick knows that as the season rolls on and the games get tighter against some of the more talented completion on the New England schedule the flurry of flags on his team could be a major factor in the squad failing to live up to its still-high expectations.

    REPORT CARD VS. VIKINGS

    PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus - It certainly wasn't a banner day for Tom Brady's passing attack. The quarterback completed an efficient 15 of his 22 attempts for 149 yards with one touchdowns and no picks for a 102.9 rating. Julian Edelman was once again Brady's top target, catching six passes for 81 yards and the only aerial touchdown. Rob Gronkowski continues his slow return to effectiveness, hauling in four passes for 32 yards. But the passing game continues to lack complementary options to the Edelman/Gronkowski duo. Aaron Dobson's one catch for 13 yards in his debut made him the only receiver other than Edelman to catch a pass. Brandon LaFell did not have a ball thrown his way. Danny Amendola had one target and no catches, although a 26-yard play was wiped out by a Dobson offensive pass interference call. Expectations for the Patriots passing game are always high but right now the unit isn't close to living up to its reputation.

    RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus - A big part of New England's game plan against the Vikings was to come out in run sets - including a fullback in front of Stevan Ridley as well as rookie tackle Cameron Fleming as a blocking tight end - and establish the ground game. The yards came slowly in the first half, but by the time the visitors had run the clock out on the win the numbers included 37 rushing attempts for 150 yards and one touchdown. Ridley led the way with 25 carries for 101 yards and a score. Given how much focus coordinator Josh McDaniels unit put on the ground game, the performance wasn't as dominant as might be hoped for, especially early on. But it was enough to stay balanced, to create some play-action chances and to control the game on the way to victory.

    PASS DEFENSE: B - Matt Cassel completed his first five throws of the day for 79 yards on an opening scoring march that concluded with a 25-yard catch-and-run score for Adrian Peterson replacement Matt Asiata. That was clearly the high for the home team's passing game on the day. Cassel would go on to be sacked six times and throw four interceptions - one in each quarter - on the way to a 39.1 passer rating and 30-7 loss. New England did a nice job keeping Minnesota's top two receiving options in check as Darrelle Revis matched up with Greg Jennings and allowed just one catch for four yards, while the rest of the secondary held its own with Cordarrelle Patterson. The second-year playmaker had four catches for 56 yards, but 26 came on one nice run after catch. The combination of the pass rush and the coverage worked well in concert against New England's own former backup in Cassel, as the Minnesota offense tried without success to find its groove playing without its best player in Peterson.

    RUSH DEFENSE: A - A defense can only defend the players it plays against. So the fact that Peterson was deactivated can't be held against New England. Asiata had 13 carries for 36 yards (2.8 avg.). Overall the Vikings had a mere 54 yards, with 16 coming on Cassel scrambles. That's a marked improvement from the 191 the Patriots allowed to Knowshon Moreno and the Dolphins on opening weekend. Vince Wilfork admitted that he'd hoped the Patriots could show improvement and test themselves against Peterson, but the unit certainly got the job done against the limited Vikings attack that actually took the field.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus - The biggest play came in the kicking game and it was made by New England. Chandler Jones' second-quarter block of Brandon Walsh's 48-yard field-goal attempt and subsequent 58-yard return for a touchdown was a potential 10-point swing turning a possible 17-10 New England lead into a 24-7 reality. Stephen Gostkowski was very impressive in his kicking duties hitting three field goals (48, 47, 27) and knocking four of his seven kickoffs for touchbacks. Edelman had a nice day on punt returns, averaging 16.5 on four chances with a long of 34. Even punter Ryan Allen got into the action with a 40-yard net while putting four of his five chances inside the 20. A week after getting a punt blocked and serving as a part of the problem in the loss in Miami, New England's kicking game bounced back to be a part of the solution.

    COACHING: B - Bill Belichick and his staff contributed to the opening day loss with some questionable game plan decisions in Miami. Like the players on the field, the staff bounced back in Week 2. Facing an undermanned Vikings team and looking to deal with problems on the offensive and defensive lines coming out of the loss to the Dolphins, Belichick shored things up on both sides of the ball. Defensively that included moving Chandler Jones back to the right edge, rather than as a 3-4 end. It saw more variety of fronts on defense and Revis matching up rather than seeing time in zone. It all worked. Offensively the changes included a focus on balance and the running game from the onset. That set up play-action passes and probably helped the tackles in their protection after a horrendous week in Miami. Put it all together and it was a solid victory on the road. That said, the two-week problem with penalties, including a Belichick-era high of 15 against Minnesota, just can't continue if the Patriots are to be the team they think they can be.


NFL Week 2:

Sunday Night Football a Tale or Two 

(Staff and wire service report)

SANTA CLARA, September 15, 2014 -- An injury couldn't stop Chicago wide receiver Brandon Marshall on Sunday night, but one certainly propelled Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller.

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    Marshall caught three of quarterback Jay Cutler's four touchdown passes, and Fuller came off the bench to set up two fourth-quarter scores with interceptions as the Bears rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the San Francisco 49ers 28-20.

    The result spoiled the 49ers' regular-season debut at Levi's Stadium.

    The Bears intercepted San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick three times, then stopped the 49ers on downs at the Chicago 17 with 1:10 to go to record their first win of the season after a disappointing loss to the Buffalo Bills in the opener.

    "Jay kept telling us we were still in it," said Bears tight end Martellus Bennett, who caught one of Cutler's touchdown passes. "He did a great job of controlling the emotions of each player on offense.

    "He did a great job with the coaches, worrying about the next drive and not what just happened. When your quarterback does that, then everyone does."

    Cutler completed 23 of 34 passes for 176 yards with no interceptions, helping the Bears bounce back after they fell behind 17-0 in the second quarter.

    Coming off a road win over the Dallas Cowboys, the 49ers (1-1) couldn't hold on Sunday in front of 70,799 at Levi's Stadium.

    "It's very disappointing in the sense that knowing the first home game here at the new stadium, all of the events and stuff that was going on and then us needing the win, that's what we wanted," 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said. "It doesn't feel good."

    Fuller, subbing for Charles Tillman (triceps), intercepted Kaepernick twice in a span of 4:09, setting up the scores that turned a 20-14 deficit into the eventual eight-point margin of victory.

    "I was just in the right place at the right time," the eight-year veteran said. "There's always adversity in this game. Guys had to step up, and I felt we did that tonight."

    Fuller's first pick came on the 49ers' first offensive play after Cutler hit Marshall for a 5-yard score with 13:35 to go, cutting the 49ers' lead to 20-14.

    A 20-yard return set up the Bears on the San Francisco 3, from where Cutler found Bennett in the right side of the end zone for the go-ahead score.

    Fuller struck again six plays later, leaving his man to intercept Kaepernick at the Chicago 40.

    This time, an 18-yard return put the Bears in business at the 49ers' 42. On the second play after a 29-yard Cutler connection to wideout Alshon Jeffery advanced the ball inside the San Francisco 10, Cutler connected with Marshall from 3 yards out for the touchdown.

    Robbie Gould's extra point made it 28-20 with 6:55 to go.

    What the Bears said:

    "It is kind of like when you think your girlfriend is about to break up with you, and then she changes her mind. That is what it feels like." -- Bears tight end Martellus Bennett, on Chicago turning around a 17-0 deficit to beat the 49ers 28-20 Sunday night.

    What the 49ers said:

    "That's unacceptable. Turnovers and penalties, especially the point in the game where they were made, that's losing football." -- Fullback Bruce Miller, on the 49ers' three interceptions, one lost fumble and 118 yards in penalties in their loss to the Bears.

    Addressing the Bears:

    Chicago's injury report was a best-selling fiction novel. Wide-outs Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) were listed as questionable all week. Jeffery hardly practiced while Marshall didn't participate in team drills at all. All they did Sunday was combine for eight catches for 95 yards, with Marshall hauling in three TDs at 17,  five and three-yard intervals.

    Bears are better against the run than they were last season. No team gave up more rushing yards than Chicago last year, but that wasn't apparent given the way they shut down what was supposed to be a versatile San Francisco running game. Chicago limited quarterback Colin Kaepernick (66 yards), running backs Frank Gore (63) and Carlos Hyde (0) and fullback Bruce Miller (0) to 129 yards on 27 carries, many of which were unplanned scrambles by Kaepernick.

    --QB Jay Cutler threw four touchdown passes in the Bears' 28-20 victory over the 49ers on Sunday night. It was his first four-touchdown game since Nov. 28, 2010, against the Philadelphia Eagles. He completed 23 of 34 passes for 176 yards with no interceptions.

    --WR Brandon Marshall did not practice all week because of an ankle injury, then had three touchdown catches in Sunday's win. Marshall wasn't nearly as effective when he wasn't around the goal line, catching only two other passes for 23 yards.

    --TE Martellus Bennett was Jay Cutler's favorite target in Sunday's win over the 49ers, catching seven of the eight balls thrown in his direction. Bennett's biggest catch came when he beat one-on-one coverage for a 3-yard touchdown with 13:14 to play, giving Chicago its first lead of the night.


  • Hot Turf, Hot Chargers

    (Staff and Wire Service Report)

  • SAN DIEGO, September 14, 2014 -- It was a toss-up on which was hotter on Sunday.


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    • The Qualcomm Stadium turf or Chargers tight end Antonio Gates?

      It was 94 degrees at kickoff and some 20 degrees warmer on the field. No matter, Gates trumped that.

      Gates' three touchdown catches lifted the San Diego Chargers over the Seattle Seahawks, 30-21, on a scorcher of an afternoon.

      Philip Rivers clicked with Gates for two scoring receptions of 8 yards and one of 21 as the Chargers (1-1) evened their record.

      "Seeing the connection of Philip and Antonio today, that is one of the most, if not the most, prolific tandems in the history of the game," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said.

      The Seahawks' (1-1) only lead came in the first quarter as they failed to overcome what Rivers and Gates were producing.

      Gates finished with seven receptions for a team-high 96 yards.

      Rivers was 28 of 37 for 284 yards and three scores.

      Russell Wilson threw for two touchdowns in completing 17 of 25 for 202 yards.

      The win, which included three Nick Novak field goals, could be costly. Running back Ryan Mathews exited on a cart in the fourth quarter, with what appeared to be a serious leg injury.

      The key for the Chargers was playing keep-away from Seattle, winning the time of possession battle, 42:15 to 17:45.

      "The game got weighted so much in the favor of them controlling it," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. "They had twice as many plans as we did. It was a great job by Philip and their offense."

      Wilson agreed.

      "They kept us from controlling the clock," he said. "They just sustained drives and kept us off the field offensively. Normally our offense does a great job."

      Nothing was better than Rivers and Gates.

      "He had a great game all the way around, not only the touchdown catches but big third-down conversions and other catches," Rivers said. "It doesn't surprise me, but I will say that the touchdown catches for the most part didn't come up exactly the way they were drawn. It's just two guys who have been together a long time."

      Any time is a good time for Rivers to look for No. 85, even against Seattle.

      “The Legion of Boom is what I've been hearing about all week,” Gates said. “Obviously, they believe in their skills to cover. It was a situation where fortunately I was matched up on linebackers at times, and I was able to come away with the win, and Philip (Rivers) was able to put the ball basically where no other player could get it."

      The Seahawks pulled to within 27-21 on a 14-yard pass from Wilson to Marshawn Lynch. The Chargers busted a coverage on the play as Lynch cruised in untouched with not a Charger around him.

      Gates added his third touchdown to tie a career high when he made a sensational one-handed catch on a third-quarter, 21-yard pass from Rivers. With Kam Chancellor and K.J. Wright covering, Gates reached out with his left hand and made a diving reception to give the Chargers a 27-14 lead.

      Seattle tackled on a touchdown in the first half's closing seconds on a 3-yard pass from Wilson to Robert Turbin, cutting its deficit to 20-14.

      Rivers and Gates connected for their second 8-yard touchdown in the half's final minute, giving the Chargers a 20-7 lead. Rivers sidestepped pressure in floating the pass to Gates deep in the end zone.

      Novak's second field goal was from 43 yards, supplying the Chargers with a 13-7 edge with 4:40 left in the half. The Chargers were derailed on a critical holding penalty by Rich Ohrnberger at the Seattle 26.

      Rivers clicked with Gates on an 8-yard strike as Gates slipped behind Chancellor in single coverage. That pushed the Chargers' cushion to 10-7.

      Percy Harvin's 51-yard scoring run put the Seahawks ahead, 7-3 with about two minutes left in the first quarter. Harvin took a pitch from Wilson around the left end, and when linebacker Jerry Attaochu didn't set the perimeter on that side, Harvin sprinted in easily.

      "Wilson thought I could get to the edge so he flipped it," Harvin said.

      The NFL sent word postgame that the touchdown should have been reviewed. The NFL confirmed that Harvin stepped out of bounds at the 21-yard line.

      The Chargers struck first when Novak kicked a 50-yard field goal late in the first quarter.

      NOTES: Chargers CB Brandon Flowers was inactive with a groin injury. ... OLB Jarret Johnson was absent as he attended the birth of his child. ... OLB Dwight Freeney recorded the 109th sack of his career when bringing Russell Wilson down for a 13-yard loss in the first quarter. ... Seattle has a Super Bowl rematch at Denver next week before its bye. ... It was the third time that Antonio Gates has had three scoring catches in a game.


BC Upsets USC

Boston College 37, No. 10 USC 31: Tyler Murphy rushed for 191 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries as the Eagles totaled 452 yards on the ground while overrunning the visiting Trojans.

Myles Willis and Jon Hilliman each finished with 89 rushing yards for Boston College, which limited USC to 20 yards on the ground thanks to five sacks. Hilliman scored two of the five rushing touchdowns for BC (2-1).

Cody Kessler completed 31-of-41 passes for 317 yards and four touchdowns, but USC didn’t have a player with more than 31 rushing yards. Starting running back Javorius Allen was the leading receiver for USC (2-1) with nine catches for 118 yards and a TD.

The Eagles scored 24 unanswered points after falling behind 17-6 early in the second quarter, maintained a two-score cushion with Murphy’s 66-yard run with 3:30 left and sealed the win by recovering an onside kick with just over a minute remaining. Hilliman scored on a 3-yard run, Sherman Alston broke loose for a 54-yard score and Hilliman added a 1-yard touchdown to move Boston College ahead 27-17 with 7:06 left in third quarter.

The Trojans surged to a 10-0 lead behind an 8-yard touchdown pass from Kessler to George Farmer and Andre Heidari’s 52-yard field goal. Tyler Rouse scored on a 4-yard run to get the Eagles on the board, but they missed the extra point and USC moved ahead 17-6 on a middle screen to Allen that went for a 51-yard touchdown.

GAME NOTEBOOK: USC finished 5-for-16 on third-down conversions while the Eagles were 2-for-11. … Trojans LB Hayes Pullard sat out the first half after he was ejected from last weekend’s win over Stanford for targeting. … The Trojans had won their previous four meetings with Boston College.


When the Game Stands Tall

By TERRY LYONS (Special to Digital Sports Desk)

During these past few lazy days of summer, there's been a lot going on in the New England sports scene. The New England Patriots are firing up their preseason engines with coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady leading the way. The Boston Bruins and Celtics are scouring the earth for some added scoring, as each approach the 2014-15 season on opposite ends of the projected ladder. Over on Yawkey Way, Ben Cherington, the GM of the Boston Red Sox orchestrated a midseason coup, trading pitching ace Jon Lester and a slew of role-playing World Champions for some hope and home runs as a strategic first step in the re-engineering of the BoSox. One of Cherington's bosses, Tom Werner, is on the short list for consideration as Major League Baseball's new Commissioner. And, speaking of Commissioners, over in the western portion of the Commonwealth, the Basketball Hall of Fame is staging its annual tribute and the inductee of honor is former NBA Commissioner David Stern.

With all of that going on, I thought it was time to step back, maybe escape a bit from the reality that I won't be watching late October baseball at Fenway. So, with that in mind, there was one reliable ole' friend I could reach out to, in order to set my mind on a clear path from the Mass Pike of the depressing local sporting news, so I could look toward the future.

My inside source to all things sports - historical and soon-to-be imagined - provided some fan-friendly perspective as a real New Englander, one with appreciation of the past and the ability to see the future. Fittingly, like Stern, he was someone who had the credentials of a Commissioner but, they were mixed with the passion of a sports fan.

I needed to speak with Michael Chiklis, the actor.

Chiklis was born in Lowell, Mass, and gained wide notoriety as an actor when, from 1991-96, he played Tony Scali - 'The Commish.' Since that career-breaking role, he went on to star in "The Shield," and even played Curly in "The Three Stooges.” More recently, Chiklis starred in "The Fantastic Four" and he is currently filing FXs "American Horror Story: The Freak" in New Orleans. However, it was Chiklis' previous casting that was the more appropriate subject of discussion when we spoke by phone this past weekend, catching up as though we were old friends sitting in my West Village studio watching his "Commish" reruns, but talking about his soon-to-be-released film role, the portrayal of Terry Eidson an assistant coach to Bob Ladouceur in the true story of (Concord, California’s) De La Salle High School's 151-game winning streak, the backdrop for “When The Game Stands Tall,” a SONY Pictures release, hitting theatres nationwide on August 22.

First, Chiklis was sure to set the record straight when I brazenly asked if he continued to have ample time to follow sports, and in particular, Boston sports while he was so busy with life as a famous actor and jaunts between New Orleans and Los Angeles.

"I still am, and will always be, -- until my last breath -- an avid Boston sports fan," said Chiklis with an emphasis that might've been taught in drama class by Kurt Douglas. "I think one of the single greatest things about my celebrity is that it’s gained me access to my beloved Boston teams."

Where you at Fenway last fall, I asked?

"I was there.  I was at Game 6.  My wife and I went with my dear friend and his wife.  We were there for the celebration, and we ended up going to the owner’s box after the game and had the greatest time in the world.  It’s been wonderful. And, one of the most special things was that I lived out a "Jimmy Fallon moment" (noting the motion picture, Fever Pitch) when Curt Schilling brought me out onto the field right after we won in ’07 in Colorado.  I was right on the field right after the win.  To be that close in proximity to those guys, right there. I was standing there, literally, right with Mike Lowell’s brother while they gave him the MVP trophy on the field, I mean that’s incredibly special, it was insane.  You’re right there, it’s historic stuff that’s happening, and you’re privy to it."

Chiklis then opined on the sport of football, being that the role of assistant coach Eidson was fresh in his mind.  What is it about football, anything with the Patriots that made you particularly insightful to your role in the movie?

"Look," Chilkis said. "I’ve always grown up with the mentality that I’d rather be a good player on a championship team than the "franchise" player on a lousy team.  When you see the way Coach B (his nickname for Belichick) coaches the team and the way he picks players, he’s never been about stars.  One of the goose-bump moments of my life as a Patriots fan was in 2001 at the Superbowl when they introduced the (St. Louis Rams) 'Greatest Show on Turf' player by player.  And then, after all of that fanfare, they went 'introducing the New England Patriots.' and they came out just as the Pats team. Every hair on my body stood up and I thought, 'we are winning this game.' Something about being a New Englander, we love the idea of a team, as opposed to the individual.

"We don’t like blow hards much."

"It’s about the way we’re raised, I guess," he continued.  "In New England, if you get too far ahead of yourself, you’re going to get brought down to earth really quickly.  When I was growing up, it was really instilled in me that it’s just a better experience in life to be yourself and not be a narcissist, but rather to be a part of a community.  And our teams are like that.  You look right and left of you and you feel that bond between the people. It’s an incredibly special thing, and you’ll get a feel for it in this movie, When The Game Stands Tall.  You’ll see that camaraderie, that brotherhood that happens on a team.  And you can see that in real life with the Patriots and Belichick when he speaks to the players coming into this team he says, 'You want to succeed? You want a ring on your finger? Then, you’re gonna plug into this system, we’ll all pull our weight, we’ll all do this together.'"

Chiklis was quick to put two-and-two together.

"Of course, superstars have emerged (in the New England Patriots' system) due to their level of commitment and play," said the actor. "Tom Brady couldn’t be a better example of a guy who’s all class, who never would say disparaging words about another player.  But, it’s not about the other guy.  It’s about his personal execution as it relates to the guys right and left of him and his commitment to them as a team.  He knows that they can be relied upon.  These guys can rely upon each other.  They have each other’s backs.  And that’s the kind of thing that makes your chest swell when you’re watching this movie.  You can see that in the context of the picture.

"When you’re watching movies like 'Remember the Titans' or 'Rudy' or 'Miracle,' you’re always threatened by that fine line between 'too corny' and something that doesn’t make a mark. But, what I love about this movie is that it's not about the cliché version of 'two seconds left on the clock and he scores and the game’s over and we win.'  The film we're so proud of doesn’t take it from that place. The De La Salle high school football team won 151 games in a row in twelve years which for anybody who knows sports, that’s ridiculous.  It just doesn’t happen.

"There’s a reason why their formula was successful and they kept winning," noted Chiklis.  "Sure they want to win their games, but the onus and the focus wasn't on winning games. It’s on making these boys into young men.  They are conscionable, responsible, credible human beings and you rely upon them.

"I’m very passionate about the movie, I’m a supporting player in this movie, When the Game Stands Tall, but I love what it says."

You will too.