Goodell joins Pats for 'Moms Safety Clinic'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell doesn't often have his wife, Jane, by his side on business trips, but Thursday night at the New England Patriots' indoor practice facility provided him a unique opportunity to do so.

Welcome to the NFL- and Patriots-sponsored "Moms Football Safety Clinic."

"She's a big believer," Goodell said prior to the two-and-a-half hour event which drew about 275 mothers from the region. "We have twin girls who are 12 going on 13, and they love sports. They play soccer and they play lacrosse. They've had teammates that have been injured. They've had concussions. They've had other injuries. They recognize there is a risk when they go out on the field, but they love it.

"And we love the values they learn. They're learning about themselves, they're learning about teamwork, they're learning about hard work, they're learning that when they get knocked down how to get up and go. We all want to prepare our kids for the future and we think sports are a big part of that. We're believers in that."

Goodell is obviously also a believer in football, a sport which has come under scrutiny by some, with President Barack Obama previously saying that if he had a son, he wasn't sure if he would allow him to play professionally.

This marked the fifth league-sponsored football clinic targeted to mothers that Goodell has attended. The NFL first started them last October in Chicago, and Thursday's was the 10th of a 25-stop tour through the spring of 2015. The next clinic is scheduled for Sunday in Indianapolis.

"It's talking about the future of our game, and helping moms and parents and families make the important decisions about participating in sports, particularly about football, and giving them the right information to make those decisions," he said.

"There is risk with any sport, but the rewards are overwhelmingly positive. That's why we want our kids playing sports, but playing them safer. We think we have a role in that. We think we have a responsibility to do that."

The clinic included a panel discussion, led by Jane Skinner Goodell, that featured Christine Golic, wife of former NFL player and current ESPN Radio host Mike Golic; Rhoda Tippett, wife of Pro Football Hall of Famer and longtime Patriot Andre Tippett; Bianca Wilfork, wife of current Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork; and 42-year Foxborough resident Deb Cunniff.

Andre Tippett, Kraft and Roger Goodell also delivered remarks, before on-field demonstrations were led by Patriots players Chandler Jones, Devin McCourty, Dont'a Hightower, Matthew Slater, Logan Ryan, Kanorris Davis, Chris White, Jake Bequette, Chris Jones and Marcus Forston. The Patriots' defensive coaching staff, led by coordinator Matt Patricia, also took part.

A focus on safety, including USA Football's "Heads Up" football program, was a consistent theme.

"The biggest thing is giving people information they can understand. It's overwhelming, the information," Goodell said. "We try to tell them places to go to get that information so they can make the right decision for their family. Also, to make sure they understand the rewards of playing sports.

"They hear from a lot of parents that have been through it -- how to ask questions to the coaches, how to get involved in a positive way, how to make sure, if their kids are participating in football, that they are doing so in 'Heads Up' supported leagues so they know their coaches are being trained and certified."