NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell opens up about the league’s growing popularity, Taylor Swift’s influence

We all know that Thanksgiving is about turkey, family and football, and the National Football League is working hard to satisfy the nation’s appetite for the latter. A busy NFL lineup is scheduled for the next few days – with three games on Thanksgiving today, the first ever game on Black Friday and a full set of match-ups on Sunday.

“I think people want more football, but I think it’s all calculated,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who spoke exclusively to “CBS Mornings” ahead of the games.

“These are calculated, strategic, and they’re intended to give people bigger events, more events and come together around football,” Goodell said. “That’s why Thanksgiving is so good. It’s people coming together.”

Overall, ratings and revenue are up for the league, which is seeing increasing popularity thanks in part to an unusual off-field source: Pop stardom Taylor Swiftwho recently brought his relationship with him Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce public. Swift has attended some of Kelce’s recent games, even sitting with her family, and fans have been eager to see her in attendance.

Goodell said Swift is an “incredible artist” and that Kelce is an “incredible player.”

“Look, they’re happy. They seem to enjoy their relationship. That’s great in itself. But it’s connected more fans of the Taylors and more fans of the NFL in some ways,” Goodell said. “To see that they have a connection, now they have a connection to our game and to Taylor … I think it’s great for the league to have that kind of attention. So we welcome it.”

The attention comes ahead of a major event for the league: the Super Bowl, which will be held in Las Vegas early next year and broadcast on CBS. It also comes as the league is likely to expand into a new overseas market in 2024, Goodell said.

“We will expand our regular season game series next year. We will play in a new market next year, either Spain or Brazil,” Goodell said.

Another hot topic for the NFL is player safety.

“I don’t think our game has ever been more physical, faster, stronger. Our players are more athletic than they’ve ever been. What we want to do is take out the techniques that lead directly to injuries,” said Goodell.

One thing Goodell said is critical is making sure parents know what they’re doing to improve the league’s safety so young football players can play safely.

“What we want parents to know is what we’ve done to make the game safer, the techniques we take out, how we coach the game, how we use our platform to make all sports safer.” Goodell said. “I think those are the positive things. There’s been a huge transformation that I think is incredibly positive, whether it’s in equipment or whether it’s in rules, whether it’s in techniques and coaching, whether it’s is in the research we’re bringing back. . . .It’s something we’re incredibly proud of, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Goodell said he hopes that at the end of his career he will be remembered for everything he has done for the NFL and the efforts he has made to leave the sport in a better place.

“I came to this as an intern in the NFL. I love it more than I did when I came in,” Goodell said. “I just think it has so many positive qualities. You see how it brings communities together. I think we’ve made the game better for our players, our clubs, our partners and for the fans, most importantly. I think , we see it in the numbers. And that’s what drives us every day to keep trying to get better.”

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