NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the biggest challenge facing the league is how to keep the game of football exciting while continuing to make it more safe.
Safety for football players at the national and collegiate levels has become a widespread concern, and Goodell touched on the strides he and others — including faculty at UNC — have taken to prioritize safety as he delivered the 28th annual Carl Blyth Lecture.
“Football unifies communities and connects generations, and the game is thriving,” Goodell said Wednesday to hundreds of attendees in the George Watts Hill Alumni Center. “But for any organization to grow, to thrive and to remain relevant, it must evolve and prove and face up to its challenges.”
Kevin Guskiewicz, chairman of the UNC department of exercise and sport science and director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center, has worked alongside Goodell in researching concussions and the newest technologies to monitor safety on and off the field.
Goodell said many of Guskiewicz’s findings have been applied at the league level, such as moving the kickoff back to the 35-yard line when it was found that kickoff returns produced the most severe injuries. Goodell said this has resulted in a 40 percent reduction to concussions, because the move has caused more touchbacks.