NFL Player poll: 61 percent disapprove of Commissioner

USA Today poll of 300 gives Roger Goodell a 39 percent approval rating
01/28/2013 2:02 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Roger Goodell became NFL Commissioner in 2006.(AP)
It appears as if NFL players are still less than enamored with league Commissioner Roger Goodell overall, as a recent USA Today poll of 300 NFL players saw 61 percent of those surveyed say they disapprove of the Commish.

While 300 players is just a small sampling of the league, accounting for roughly 18 percent of the league’s active rosters at any given time, it’s still a large disparity of dissent against Goodell, who took over the position from Paul Tagliabue in 2006.

Players were granted anonymity if they chose it in answering the poll, but many, including Pittsburgh’s James Harrison, a man who has had frequent clashes with Goodell over the years, chose to eschew it, instead speaking openly about their issues with the boss.

In Harrison’s case, player safety issues seemed to be the big onus for his vote in this poll.

“I think it's obvious that I disapprove; I feel like what he's doing is not totally for the safety of players,” Harrison said. “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? … 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?"

Some, however, like Seattle fullback Michael Robinson, who also disapproved of Goodell, felt he was at least making strides in that department.

"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. "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.”

That said, Robinson had an idea along the lines of the league’s recent vote to make thigh and knee pads, which have been optional equipment since 1994, mandatory as of next season.

"I know what I signed up for. If you want to protect us, why not mandate mouthpieces?”

According to the poll, the many polarizing events of the last 18 months – including both the players and officials being locked out, the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal, and the numerous discussions on concussions – all contributed to the negative view of the Commissioner, but some among the 39 percent who responded favorably cited issues like those as part of the game.

"Anyone who has that position, who's trying to protect the league and what it stands for, is going to run into controversy," Romo, who approved of Goodell in the poll, said. "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."

Others, like Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola, cited the “good” side of Goodell’s player safety crackdown as reason for their approval.

"Fines, this and that, that's part of the business. Everybody has to deal with it; somebody has to do it," Raiola, a 12-year veteran, said. "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."USA Today that it won’t be dismissed.

"Roger Goodell has tremendous respect for NFL players and always seeks their views on a wide range of issues," Aiello told the newspaper 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."

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