Now in his fourth year, Goodell will emcee the opening round of the draft on Thursday, which, for the first time, will be held in prime time
DP:Any names you're worried about pronouncing?
RG: No, we've got some great names and some great players. There are a couple of challenges in there, but that's always the fun part.
DP:How do you decide who to invite?
RG: We talk to a lot of our draft experts at NFL.com and identify some of the key people we think will be selected in the first couple of rounds, since we'll be in prime time both Thursday and Friday night. We have more players than ever joining us this year.
DP:Is Jimmy Clausen going?
RG: Jimmy's not coming. He just lost his grandmother in the last month, and his grandfather can't travel and he wanted to be with him. I think that's a great thing.
DP:How concerned are you that you've invited a guy who's going to slide way down the draft this year, like Aaron Rogers and Brady Quinn?
RG: When they come in here the day before the draft, they always ask me, "Is there anything you can advise us on?" And I say, "Yes, one of you will go last. And when you're sitting back in that draft room, you will think that it's 10 years of your life. It's not. You're still a high draft choice."
DP:Clear up something if you can. Some coaches said that they went out to play golf at the owners' meetings in March, and while they were out, the vote to change the playoff overtime rules was called. Is that true?
RG: It is true, but we had at least three different sessions that the coaches participated in prior to that. So all of their input was considered when we took the vote. But ownership felt strongly that this was good for the game and good for our fans. It was the Number 1 issue that fans had raised with me.
DP:Why not change the rule [which guarantees the team losing the coin toss will get the ball if the first possession ends in a field goal] in the regular season as well?
RG: The focus was on making sure we had overtime procedures for the one game, win-or-you're-out. The clubs felt that that was appropriate. We are looking to see if we should put it in for the regular season, and we'll probably reconsider it as early as the May [owners'] meetings.
DP:Do you have veto power?
RG: I do not have veto power.
DP:Where do we stand on expanding the season?
RG: We're not expanding the season. We have a 20-game season: 16 regular season and four preseason. What we've been talking about doing is flipping two of those preseason games and making them regular-season games. So we'd stay within our 20-game format, but we'd improve the quality of what we're doing.
DP:What kind of time frame?
RG: Well, we hope to get a collective bargaining agreement as soon as possible. It would be part of that.
DP:Did Ben Roethlisberger violate the league's personal-conduct policy?
RG: Yes. The issue here is with respect to a pattern of behavior and bad judgments. You do not have to be convicted or even charged with a crime to reflect poorly not only on themselves, but on ... everyone associated with the NFL. And that is my concern.
Shortly before his first-round playoff series with the Thunder, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (above) is getting too many calls from NBA refs. Chris Webber said Jackson did it for a reason. "He plants seeds much earlier than other coaches," Webber told me. "Maybe it will cause [Durant] to go a little wild." It might be working: Durant was 7 for 24 from the floor in L.A.'s Game 1 win.
When I asked South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier if he was going to miss Lane Kiffin, who left Tennessee for USC after one season, he said, "I think our commissioner is happy he left. But he didn't bother me." That led to a discussion about secondary rules violations, and Spurrier argued for more stringent penalties. "They ought to add them up," he said. "If you commit a whole bunch of them and maybe [have to] sit out a year of coaching, that would get people's attention."
Line of the week
Darrell Waltrip had a simple take on Ben Roethlisberger: "Riding around on his motorcycle with no helmet.... That pretty much defines him."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. QBs Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen discuss the draft.
2. Reggie Miller breaks down the NBA playoffs.
THE FINE PRINT: The Indians gave out caps made completely from recycled materials. Does that mean plastic, or Mark Grudzielanek?
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
GREG NELSON (DURANT)
NIGEL KINRADE/AUTOSTOCK (WALTRIP)
LARRY MARANO/GETTY IMAGES (GOODELL)