NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at the 2021 NFL draft. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL made some significant changes to the annual commissioner’s press conference, making it invite-only to only select media members moving it from the Wednesday before the Super Bowl to the Monday, where it will serve as the opener for Opening Night of Super Bowl week. To many, the changes seem like an attempt from Roger Goodell to avoid potential tough questions, And NFL insider Peter King is not happy about the moves.

In his Football Morning in America column on Monday, King called out the league and Goodell for what he feels is a strategic move to hold the press conference on Monday instead of Wednesday, as well as to hold it at the same time that Kansas City Chiefs players and coaches will also be available to the media.

“I think there’s a good reason why the NFL, which used to have the commissioner’s press conference at midday Friday, when it would be the event of the day and very widely covered, will now have it on Monday afternoon,” King wrote. “It’s by invitation now, which is very bad form, because it allows the league to keep out muckrakers like Mike Florio, who was not invited. Having it Monday afternoon does these things: Many reporters covering the Super Bowl arrive on Monday (I’m one) and thus won’t be in position to cover it, minimizing the amount of attention it gets.

“Further minimizing it is the fact that at 5 p.m. local time, Kansas City players and coaches will be available, followed by San Francisco players and coaches at 7. By dusk, Goodell’s words, barring a headline-producing answer, will be secondary or tertiary as news of the day shifts to Travis Kelce getting lobbed his first Taylor Swift question, and Kyle Shanahan defending his QB from the he’s-just-a-game-manager crowd.”

King criticized Goodell for the changes to the schedule, calling it “a bad look” for the commissioner, accusing him of ducking tough questions.

“I think the whole thing is a bad look for Goodell. Very bad,” King wrote. “Either he’s got thinner skin than he likes people to think he has, or he’s afraid of answering tough questions about how far the league’s gotten into bed with sports betting interest after saying for years legalized sports gambling would be a pox on the NFL. It’s a pox, until you can make billions on it.”

King was also critical of the decision to make the press conference invite-only as it deprives many who spend their entire professional lives covering the NFL a chance to ask the commissioner of the league a question.

“Way back in the day, [former NFL commissioner] Pete Rozelle would come off the podium and spend 20 minutes doing sidebar stuff with the people who covered the league. If you cover the league, it’s great to be able to have the occasional back-and-forth with the commissioner,” King wrote. “What’s the worst thing that can happen in a one-hour, all-comers press conference? Some media person goes on a harangue about some issue that’s not very important? So what? Give the people who spend their professional lives writing and reporting and commenting on the biggest sport in America an hour, once a year, to ask anything and everything. Tell me: What’s so dangerous about that?”

Goodell’s press conference is set to begin at 5 p.m. local time, 8 p.m. E.T. It will certainly be interesting to see what sort of questions Goodell faces after all of this backlash.

[Peter King]