NFL commissioner on concussion settlement: "There was no admission of guilt"

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by CBS News

CBS News

Posted on September 4, 2013 at 8:56 AM

(CBS News) The NFL season kicks off Thursday night, with the Denver Broncos hosting defending Super Bowl Champions, the Baltimore Ravens. The season opens a week after a $765 million landmark concussion settlement was reached between the NFL and more than 4,500 retired players who sued the league on claims that it had hidden information related to head trauma and related health repercussions.

There has been speculation that the league was anxious to settle and appear ahead of the concussion issue before the start of the new season and Wednesday on "CBS This Morning," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell insisted that despite the settlement, "there was no admission of guilt [on the part of the NFL]. There was no recognition that anything was caused by football."

Goodell continued: "The most important thing for us was to be able to resolve the differences and get relief to the players as soon as possible, and their families...the reality is we want to help our players. When we see dangerous techniques, we take them out of the game...and it's made the game safer."

Even with the settlement, there could be more lawsuits from other players in the future, Goodell admitted.

"Litigation is never over," Goodell said. "There are lawyers and they're going to continue to bring the litigation. We believe...that we've reached an agreement here that resolves these issues."

Touching on concerns about head trauma within the youth football league community, Goodell said from a parent's standpoint, it comes to "making sure the rules are properly enforced, making sure that we get the best possible equipment" and added that the NFL is "investing in research" and said, "I believe that the game is safer and better than ever."

NFL fans' experience will remain the same despite new regulations aimed at making the game safer for players, Goodell said.

"Our game always remains a physical game. It's a tough game...I spoke to John Madden last week, John Madden said the players and the coaches are adjusting and the game is getting back to fundamentals and the game has never been safer and that's a good thing for players...but it's also great for fans," Goodell said. "What they're seeing is great competition and their players are healthier on the field, longer."

Turning to another health issue within the league, Goodell acknowledged that drug testing in the NFL -- specifically for human growth hormone or HGH -- lags behind other major sports leagues.

"We began steroid testing in the NFL...back in the early 90's. We've been a leader in that area. Where I am unfortunately disappointed is that we're not testing for HGH right now. We agreed to that in our collective bargaining agreement two years ago have not been able to implement that" due to disputes with the player's union over how to do so," he said. "We've been working with the union, we've tried to address their issues, we've compromised on several issues. We believe we have a program that's ready to be implemented and it's up to the union right now to accept that program."

Goodell was joined on the broadcast by Under Armour Founder and CEO John Plank to announce the second $10 million Head Health innovation challenge -- a partnership between the NFL, Under Armour and General Electric, to "find better ways to protect the brain from injuries."

"First and foremost, we want to be able to challenge people, with the money raised -- up to $10 million -- to come back and help us find solutions to identify and help with measuring the problems," Plank explained. "Number two, ideas for safer helmets or other protective devices that kids can wear while they play. And number three, the idea of heads-up football...training and teaching kids the proper way to play the game [to prevent injuries]."

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