Goodell fielded a number of notable questions on the state of professional football. Most of them came from credentialed reporters.
However, the NFL commissioner would later receive a hard-hitting question from
Midway through the press conference, the 49ers tight end stood up and spoke up from the back of the room.
“Hey, Roger, Vernon Davis here, tight end for the San Francisco 49ers."
Goodell smiled and said, "I know who you are, Vernon. I’m glad to have you here.”
Goodell offered a lengthy thoughtful response:
“Vernon, first off, we had lots of discussions about that in the collective bargaining process. We went back and improved a lot of our health benefits, both for former players and for current players, to the point where I think the health benefits that are provided to current NFL players are the best in the world. And so I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do with the union in approving those benefits.
“We all still have a lot of work to do for former players. The cost of trying to provide health care for every player that’s ever played in the league was discussed with the union. It was determined that these changes were the best changes. And that’s what we negotiated. But we’re all proud of the efforts that we made. We will continue to make more efforts and do a better job, particularly with our former players in providing them opportunities and to give them the proper health care.
“And our programs, as an example, the ‘88 Plan’ for anyone who has dementia or any other kind of neurological disorder, that’s there for the players and their families for lifetime. So we have programs that are addressing those issues that we have created, or the owners have created, on their own. And we also have several of them that were created with the union.”
Following Davis' question, MMQB.com, the Peter King-led web site, proudly noted the 49ers tight end was working for them moments after he chimed in at the press conference.