NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gave his state of the league address on Wednesday in Arizona with Super Bowl LVII set to kick off, and had plenty of interesting tidbits about the future of the league. Goodell addressed the league's officiating situation, the NFL's flex scheduling for "Thursday Night Football," more international games in Germany, future Super Bowl sites, and a reveal of one of the influential voices that led to the Pro Bowl becoming a flag football game. 

Here's a rundown of Goodell's press conference regarding the state of the NFL.

On the state of officiating: Everything is great

"I don't think it's ever been better," Goodell said Wednesday when asked about how he views the performance of the league's referees amidst the controversy and continual social media outrage about blown calls in big games. 

That response from the commissioner contrasts with recent public sentiment surrounding the league's standard of officiating. There were multiple components of one of the final plays in this season's AFC Championship Game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs that resulted in a late-hit penalty on Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai as Patrick Mahomes scrambled out of bounds. Many Cincinnati fans screamed for a holding call on the Chiefs at the start of the play, and were also taken aback by the decision to flag Ossai on the Chiefs' last offensive play.  

The criticism of the NFL's officiating situation reached an inflection point as retired, four-time Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster fanned flames for the conspiracy theory that the league is rigged as he alluded to "scripts" being handed out to players and teams on Barstool's "Macrodosing" podcast. 

One of the NFL's most decorated active players, Aaron Rodgers, said one of the issues plaguing officiating today is that the best referees aren't referees anymore because they get compensated better as game analysts for the league's broadcast partners. 

"Listen, the best refs we've had in the league are on TV now," the four-time NFL MVP said Tuesday on the "Pat McAfee Show." "They're not working in the league office. They're on TV. Gene Steratore, my favorite ref of all-time. I think one of the best guys at understanding how to interact with guys and how to communicate with them, and then how to control a game without being a part of it. Gene was incredible at that, but Gene is on TV now. Why? Because they pay more."

"Terry McAulay, also a fantastic referee. He's not working as the head of refs for the league office. He's on TV. John Parry, another great referee. What is he doing? He's working on TV. All of these guys who were fantastic whitecaps, and all who've left in probably the last five years. You've had eight or nine really good whitecap longtime referees. Are any of them working at the league office? No."

The NFL's referees serve as part-time employees, and making them full-time could potentially help improve their on-field performance since practice makes perfect. The shift to full-time employment of refs could also lead to better pay, something that would potentially incentivize the game's best refs to stay on the field instead of going up to the broadcast booth. Rodgers said finding a way to keep the game's best officials in a hands-on role could help improve the quality of the officiating going forward.

"If the league was smart, they would go grab one of those guys, pay them whatever they want, and make this a little easier for the refs. They have a tough job to do, but there's some things to be simplified."

On flex scheduling for 'Thursday Night Football': It's possible

Later in the NFL season, the league's broadcast rights holders, CBS, Fox, ESPN, and NBC, have utilized a process called flex scheduling, re-shuffling their game time slots in order to have the biggest matchups in their best viewing windows. Networks have utilized this process for games on Sundays in the past on CBS, the AFC rights holder, and Fox, the NFC rights holder, in the past, but now Goodell said Amazon, the league's new "Thursday Night Football" rights holder as of the 2022 season could also have that ability down the line. Amazon's play-by-play announcer, the legendary Al Michaels, openly degraded the quality of some of the games he called this season. Goodell also noted that NBC will have that ability for "Sunday Night Football" and ESPN will as well for "Monday Night Football" starting in the 2023 season. 

During the Week 5 broadcast of the Indianapolis Colts at the Denver Broncos, a 12-9 overtime road win for the Colts that featured four interceptions with two being tossed by both quarterbacks -- the Colts' Matt Ryan and the Broncos' Russell Wilson -- and no touchdowns, Michaels ripped into the on-field performance while talking to his broadcast partner Kirk Herbstreit by saying, "Sometimes a game can bad it's almost good. You know what I'm saying?"

Herbstreit tried to save face by replying, "No! I'm not feeling that just yet over here!"

Likely unhappy to see announcers denigrating the quality of the NFL's on-field product, Goodell is now open to the idea of flexing better matchups into the Thursday primetime slot down the road. 

"Not today, but it'll certainly be something that's on our horizon," Goodell said.

However, flexing a team into a Thursday night slot will require a lot more logistics than moving a game already scheduled on a Sunday to a later time that day or one day later to Monday. Teams would likely have to be given some kind of advance warning they could be flexed into Thursday in order to start preparing their players and coaches to get ramped up to play again in half the time they usually do when playing on Sundays or Mondays. How the league handles that development in regards to competitive advantage will be something to monitor in the future. 

On listening to player input for Pro Bowl format alteration 

The quality of the NFL's all-star game, the Pro Bowl, has declined over the years with the top stars bowing out due to injuries or for a lack of a desire to participate as the game's location shifted from Hawaii to Orlando and most recently Las Vegas. With the league looking to juice both the ratings and player participation, Goodell opened himself up to listen to a nine-time Pro Bowler's advice on what to do to spice things up. That player was Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson. 

"Russell Wilson called me the Tuesday after [last year's Pro Bowl] and said 'Let's play a flag game,'" Goodell said when asked about some of the driving factors to shift the all-star game to a different set-up.

With Goodell open to listening to Wilson about the Pro Bowl, perhaps he might pick up the phone if Rodgers gave him a ring about how to improve the quality of the NFL's officiating. 

On a bigger international presence

"Whether it's in the UK or Germany, it's just extraordinary to see the reaction of the fans," Goodell said when asked about the potential for NFL games overseas. "When we went to Germany...I don't think any of us would have anticipated the reaction we [the NFL] got there. For our first game there and being somebody who was involved with American football in Germany through the NFL since 1989, to me it was really rewarding to see how our fanbase has expanded. We want to make NFL football a global sport." 

He then went on to confirm there will be four games in total in Germany across the next four years, two in Frankfurt and two in Munich. The NFL played its first regular season game in Germany, Munich specifically,  during Week 10 this season, a game Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers won 21-16 over the Seattle Seahawks. There were 69,811 fans officially in attendance in Allianz Arena, a venue that has a capacity of 75,000, meaning the stadium was about 93% full. Goodell went on to note the NFL will continue playing games in London and Mexico City as it has in years past. 

The league has dominated the American television landscape and sports content world for years and now looks to do the same across Europe. 

On future Super Bowl locations

The Super Bowl locations for the next two seasons are set in stone. 

Super Bowl LVIII: February 10, 2024, Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada

Super Bowl LIX: February 9, 2025, Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

However, the locations for the league's 60th, LX, and 61st, LXI, Super Bowls are up for grabs. Goodell noted that selection for LX in 2026 will be made later this year, and that LXI's location in 2027 could also be determined sometime in 2023. 

Miami has been the location for the most Super Bowls, 11, and the big game's second-most frequent locale of New Orleans, 10 times, is already slotted for Super Bowl LIX. Los Angeles, the third-most utilized location, was the home of last season's Super Bowl, so those locations truly are up for grabs. The NFL typically prefers warmer weather cities, but areas with colder weather like East Rutherford, New Jersey, Indianapolis and Minneapolis have all been selected as host venues since 2010 with the installation of new stadiums.