As Super Bowl Kicks Off, NFL Looks Ahead

The Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophy sits on display between Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears helmets before team press conferences at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Fla., Friday, Feb. 2, 2007. The Colts will play the Bears in Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) AP Photo/Michael Conroy

The Super Bowl is the NFL's day to shine. History is made during Super Bowls. For the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears, there's no more practice and no more hype.

The Colts are trying for the franchise's first championship since Super Bowl V in 1970 when the team was based in Baltimore. The Bears are trying to replicate the tough defense that produced a championship in their storied 1985 season.

According to Forbes magazine, the Super Bowl is the most valuable sporting event in the entire world. The new NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, said he expects South Florida to make more that $300 million this year because of the Super Bowl, which is being held in Miami. The hope, he said, is next to take the NFL franchise further around the world.

But while the business of football seems all but unstoppable, a number of legal problems off the field have marred the NFL's image.

"We want to try to eliminate that," Goodell told Face the Nation moderator Bob Schieffer. "So we have a number of programs that we've put in place that make sure that the players understand their responsibility. We have tried to educate them, that they're in a position of great focus, and they have to conduct themselves appropriately. Obviously, when you're dealing with this many people, sometimes you're going to get some people that stray. When they do, we will deal with that by our enforcement procedures."

In fairness, there are more than 1,600 players in the league, so 35 arrests is a small percentage, but on Friday, Goodell held a news conference and announced that he plans to hold meetings with the players during the off-season.

"We've increased our suspensions and our discipline this past year," he said. "I expect to continue that. We also want to talk to our coaches and our players to understand what's going on so that we can make the right adjustments to our very aggressive programs and policies that we do have in place right now."

In addition to bad behavior, the NFL is also grappling with accusations from former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson, that his team didn't give him the full medical attention he deserved after suffering multiple concussions.

"Medical care is extremely important to us for our players' safety," Goodell said. "We have rule changes. We have a concussion study that's been going on for approximately ten years. And they've made great modifications to equipment and to playing rules to make it safer for our players. We didn't know about the Ted Johnson issue until last week or early this week. We want to look into that. We want to make sure we understand the circumstances, what may have contributed to that, and see what we can do to try to make it safer for our players."

Meanwhile, the NFL is also looking for more ways to stamp out performance enhancing drugs like steroids and is looking for a reliable test for human growth hormone. One of the league's star players, Shawne Merriman, tested positive for steroids and was suspended for four games (but was allowed to play in the Pro Bowl).

"I believe that we'll be able to make small changes in the off season, and that players that violate our steroid policy will not be permitted to play in the post-season games," Goodell said. "I think we'll be able to make some changes in our policy so that players will not be able to make the Pro Bowl roster going forward, and they won't be able to do that because we will not permit them to be eligible."

With all eyes on Miami, the weatherman says there's a 40 percent chance of showers in South Florida.

And for those not terribly interested in football, there's always the commercials. Billy Joel sings the national anthem. Prince is the halftime show.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6:25 p.m. EST.
  • Caitlin Johnson

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