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Goodell talks about settlement

NEW YORK -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday that the league is working to persuade a federal judge that a proposed $765-million concussion settlement will work the way it was intended.

"The No. 1 thing for us right now is to get the money in place so that we can help the players and their families if they need it, and that is our priority," Goodell said during his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference, which was held at a midtown theater.

U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody this month denied preliminary approval of the proposed settlement between the NFL and more than 4,500 retired players because of concerns the money will be insufficient over the life of the deal.

Goodell was asked about a range of topics, among them: marijuana, instant replay, expanding the playoffs and whether the league was considering adoption of a uniform code of conduct that would be posted in locker rooms.

During his opening remarks, Goodell made reference to focus on the weather and said the league was "going to embrace the weather." Fake snow then began to fall onstage, a lighthearted moment in a traditionally business-like address.

Recreational marijuana use is legal in Washington and Colorado, homes of the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. But Goodell said the league is "not actively considering" changing its policy of testing for it.

"Our experts right now are not indicating that we should change our policy in any way," Goodell said, adding, "Down the road sometime that is something we would never take off the table if it could benefit our players at the end of the day."

He said the league's Competition Committee will consider whether to recommend a centralized replay system.

"I do believe there's a possibility that some version of that will occur where our office can at least be involved with the decision," he said.

Goodell said, "We are looking at the idea" of expanding the playoffs from its current 12-team format to 14.

"We think we can do it properly from a competitive standpoint," he said. "This will continue to get very serious consideration by the Competition Committee and then the ownership will have to vote on it."

The Miami Dolphins' situation involving Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin has already sparked discussion, Goodell said.

"We're going to focus on this in the off-season," he said. "Some of it will be education; some of it, possibly, could be policy change.... And I do expect changes as we go forward. Maybe not as much in policy as it is in making sure we provide that professional kind of workplace."

Young leader

Kris Richard, coach for the Seattle Seahawks' "Legion of Boom" secondary, played and coached at USC under Pete Carroll.

Richard, 34, oversees a group that includes cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.

"Not once did I ever envision being here as a coach," he said of childhood dreams about the Super Bowl. "Of course, as a player you dream of it all the time, you're going to be in there. It's going to be your day.

"Here it is as a coach. I've been blessed to be with a group of guys that have been able to bring me here."

On the defensive

Carroll and Denver Broncos Coach John Fox both have defensive backgrounds.

"Maybe it's fitting that we've been fighting our whole life trying to slow this thing down, and we get a chance to do it here on the biggest stage," Carroll said during a news conference for both coaches, adding, "Maybe this gives defensive guys hope."

Quick recovery

Fox had no doubts that he would return quickly from a November heart procedure and coach again this season.

"Really, it was like a sprained ankle," he said. "It was going to be four weeks."

Said Carroll: "What a stud. He's comparing an open-heart surgery and being on his back to an ankle sprain. Congratulations on that."

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

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