The NFL’s upcoming Colin Kaepernick workout has quickly spiraled into a morass of questions around the timing, the lack of notice to Kaepernick’s camp, the debates over which teams’ personnel will attend and how public that will be, and much more. But one man who is very much not answering those questions is NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell appeared in public Thursday in Los Angeles at the Paley Center for Media’s International Council Summit, but didn’t address Kaepernick and took no questions. And moderator James Brown (of CBS’ The NFL Today) added to that by specifically stating at the start of the session that there would be no discussion of Kaepernick, but also mentioning that Goodell wrote the script for this session (which included him attacking journalists):
The subject of Kaepernick was seemingly taken off the table at the start of the session by moderator James Brown, host of The NFL Today on CBS. “I know there’s some pretty salient news, some important news that’s breaking in the world of the NFL,” Brown said, without naming Kaepernick. “Roger and I are going to stick to the topic here: ‘100 Seasons and Counting,’” the official name of the session. “It would take us all day to deal with what the breaking news is,” Brown said. “We’ll deal with that at the appropriate time and we only have 25 minutes.”
It turned out there was one subject Goodell was glad to expound on, and it was (irony alert) the state of sports media. In teeing up the question, Brown read from an index card. “I’m very personally interested in this next topic, the evolution of sportswriters and journalism,” Brown said. “I really want to hear your answer to this one.” Goodell interjected with a chuckle, “I don’t know what’s coming.” Brown, nodding to the highly scripted nature of the session, advised, “You wrote it!”
The audience let out a giggle, and then Goodell proceeded to lodge a general complaint, after first acknowledging that he is married to former Fox News anchor Jane Skinner. “There’s so much out there, so many quote-unquote ‘journalists.’ I think it’s changed dramatically,” he said. “There’s no longer a focus on doing credible pieces that stand the test of time, that are sourced properly and backed up. It’s who gets there first. Who gets it out first, and it doesn’t matter if it’s right. Just get it out.”
Well, if there are ever questions about credibility, the NFL league office is a great place to start, especially with all the drama going on around this Kaepernick workout and the procedures put in place for it. And it wouldn’t take “all day” to get in a question about Kaepernick, James Brown, but given that you seem to be going off Goodell’s script anyway, it’s understandable that that didn’t include anything that could possibly make him look bad.
This whole Kaepernick workout has turned into quite a PR mess for the NFL, one that could easily have been avoided if they’d simply provided more warning for Kaepernick’s camp and a more fair date where actual decision-makers could attend. And Goodell only reinforced that with his remarks Thursday. As Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio noted, Goodell once stated that he’s “available to the media almost every day of my job.” He certainly wasn’t here, and that adds to the drama around this workout, which a PFT source said has become a “complete sh-t show.” From this standpoint, it’s hard to disagree.