Roger Goodell not popular with NFL players

Published On January 28, 2013 | By Kimberly Petalas

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has only a 39% approval rate among players (Photo: Frank Franklin II, AP)

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is becoming less and less popular among the players, especially after his rulings in the bounty scandal ruined the New Orleans Saints’ 2012 season.

In a recent poll conducted by USA TODAY Sports, 61% of the 300 active roster players who were surveyed are not happy with the job Goodell has done. Most of these responses were about increased fines on players for dangerous hits on defenseless receivers and quarterbacks and the bounty matter.

The poll was conducted from Dec. 19 to Jan. 12, with a margin of error of plus-minus 5%. Players were granted anonymity if they wanted because some were concerned if their votes went public.

The 39% who did approve of Goodell mostly said that he had a large role in making the game the most popular of U.S. sports, and that it’s a thankless job, no matter who is in charge.

Though some players voted anonymously, others had no problem saying just how they feel about Goodell.

“I think it’s obvious that I disapprove,” said Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James HarrisonI feel like what he’s doing is not totally for the safety of players. … A lot of stuff they’ve done, [such as] fining guys crazy amounts of money for helmet-to-helmet hits and all that and saying you’re doing this for the safety of players. But yet you want to add extra games to the regular season.”

Harrison has been fined more than $100,000 for hard hits during his career and has been a big critic of Goodell.

“In the true interest of player safety, I would have no issue with it. But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about money. Who hired Roger Goodell?” said Harrison.

Buffalo Bills linebacker Kirk Morrison noted that Goodell serving as the face of the owners would always lead to a strained relationship with the players, because he’s the “ultimate liaison between employers and employees.”

Although the owners were responsible for the league’s official’s lockout at first, Goodell was perceived by many of the players as being the roadblock in negotiations.

“Roger Goodell has tremendous respect for NFL players and always seeks their views on a wide range of issues,” league spokesman Greg Aiello said in response to the poll. “He values their input tremendously in working to make the game better. Roger broke into the league 30 years ago working closely with players, and he hasn’t changed that approach”

Saints quarterback Drew Brees is another player who is not afraid to say how he feels. Even though he didn’t name Goodell specifically  it was clear that Goodell was who this tweet was aimed at.

Brees tweeted, “Ironic that our league punishes those based on conduct detrimental. Whose CONDUCT is DETRIMENTAL now?”

It was solely Goodell who was responsible for suspending Saints players and coaches for the bounty system.

“When you create a system where you’re both the judge and the jury and you preside over it in that manner, it seems inherently unfair,” Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely said about Goodell and his position with the bounty scandal.

“Anyone who has that position, who’s trying to protect the league and what it stands for, is going to run into controversy,” said Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who approves of the job Goodell is doing. “There are always going to be positives and negatives that go with it, but I know that Roger in his heart has the best interests of the league. … If you’re appeasing everybody, you might not be doing the job well.”

Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson says that Goodell should stop trying to turn the game into glorified two-hand touch.

“You talk about helmet-to-helmet collisions. I get about 18 to 25 a game; you’re not going to be able to stop that,” said Robinson, who disapproves of Goodell’s performance. “That’s what my job is; it’s what makes us different. Not everybody in America can play this game, can take these hits and keep getting up. I know what I signed up for. If you want to protect us, why not mandate mouthpieces.”

Recently, Goodell and the league have voted to make thigh and knee pads mandatory, starting next season. Of course, this decision will cause some backlash from some players.

“Fines, this and that, that’s part of the business. Everybody has to deal with it; somebody has to do it,” said Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola. “It’s easy for outsiders or people to say this guy ain’t doing a good job, but I think he holds people super accountable for their actions — and that’s not a real bad thing.”

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About The Author

Kimberly graduated from Hofstra University in December 2012. She has been a sports fan her whole life and grew up around sports, whether it was playing or watching them. She started her writing career interning for her local newspaper, The Gardner News, where she currently works as a reporter. In college, Kimberly wrote for Long Island Report, as well as Her Campus Hofstra.