“The number of concussions went up this year and they're going to go up and they're going to go down in any given season, but screenings went up by 108 percent and also we saw more self-reporting in the players and teammates,” Goodell told “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts. “That’s what I call the culture change.”
“It used to be, as you know, ‘It’s just a ding.’ Those days are long gone and that's a positive thing for our game,” Goodell said.
Goodell, who has two daughters, said he would encourage a son to play the sport because of the "tremendous values" that come from playing football.
"I would not only want him to play football, I would certainly encourage him to do it and I would let him do it," he said. “There is risk involved in anything in life but what we need to do is to make sure we show people how to get the most out of playing sports and do it safely.”
This week, as buzz for Sunday’s Super Bowl was building, it was announced that former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, who died last year, also suffered from the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
The issue of CTE has also been put in the public spotlight with the Will Smith-starring movie “Concussion.” Goodell says the league is now “leading the way” in protecting its players and investing in research.
“If I had known that I could have we could have done things different we could have made more changes but the league has a history of changing the game,” he said. “We're over 100 million dollars in research going not just to make football safer, this is going to make all sports safer, the military safer, and quite frankly will probably have an impact on brain disease in general.”
Goodell has also navigated the NFL in recent years through a series of high-profile domestic violence charges against some players, an issue Goodell says the league is addressing.
“When our policies haven't met the types of standards that we think should be upheld, we acknowledge that [and] in the domestic violence, and sexual assault area, we changed that,” Goodell said. “In this past 12 month cycle, we had the lowest amount of arrests in the history of the NFL.”
Super Bowl 50 will be played on Sunday at Levi's Stadium with the Carolina Panthers facing the Denver Broncos. Goodell sat down with Roberts Thursday in the San Francisco area just after attending the NFL’s first-ever “Women’s Summit.”
The commissioner announced Thursday the league will institute a “Rooney Rule” for women, meaning NFL teams will be required to interview women for executive positions.
The rule has previously been applied to minorities and the NFL now has five African-American coaches and one Latino coach, the Panthers Ron Rivera, who led his team to the Super Bowl this year.
“We want to make sure that when we have an opening we're making sure we not only have a diverse slate of candidates but we also have women we believe can do this job and give them the opportunity,” Goodell said. “I always think diversity is still an issue we're not finished we're not done and so much of what we do is incomplete so we're going to continue to make progress here.”
When the Panthers and Broncos kick off at Levi's Stadium in Sunday's Super Bowl, Goodell says he hopes the game can bring everyone together.
"When I see a world that we live in right now, there's so much division. There's so much discourse and concern," Goodell said. "The whole world is going to gather around their television sets this weekend, around NFL football and Super Bowl and celebrate the game, and celebrate everyone coming together."
"When you can be involved with that, that's a good moment."