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Goodell bristles at suggestion NFL has gone “soft”

Roger Goodell AP

During a Wednesday visit to Panthers training camp, Commissioner Roger Goodell answered a wide range of questions from fans.

On one topic, a fan apparently struck a nerve.

The fan asked whether Goodell’s imposition of fines for illegal hits has caused the game to go “too soft.”  Per Steve Reed of CarolinaGrowl.com, Goodell was blunt.

“I tell you what, put your pads on and come out and play with those guys,” Goodell said.  “You think it’s too soft.  Look at those guys [on the field warming up].  You still think it’s too soft?  I don’t buy that for one second.  Those players play a very tough game and they play it at an extremely high level.”

He’s right.  The game isn’t soft, at all.  The fact that players resist efforts to make the game safer proves how tough they are.

But Goodell is thinking long term here.  With more and more being learned about the dangers of chronic head trauma, the sport will have a hard time surviving — and thriving — absent greater sensitivity to those issues, and greater efforts to eliminate them from the game.

Besides, it’s the right thing to do, despite the fans’ desire to see large men knock each other out.

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34 Responses to “Goodell bristles at suggestion NFL has gone “soft””
  1. tomsd1 says: Aug 4, 2011 8:09 AM

    So was there an audible silence?

    Totally agree that with today’s players, bigger, faster, stronger, the hits to the head are way to damaging.

    The ole noggin is about the same (and the helmets are not that greatly improved) – whereas the shock delivered to it is increasing.

  2. jnbnet says: Aug 4, 2011 8:15 AM

    He’s right. The game isn’t soft, at all. The fact that players resist efforts to make the game safer proves how tough they are.

    =================================

    Actually, the fact tthat they resist efforts to make the game safer proves how unwilling they are to adapt. Most of the whinning you hear about new saftey rules are from the malcontents.

  3. salmen76 says: Aug 4, 2011 8:19 AM

    The NFL has NOT gone soft but Goodell has. In fact, he was always soft. I’ve never liked him. He’s a whimpy scaredy-cat. I bet you could say “BOO” and he’d jump 10 feet in the sky and crap his pants. The sooner he’s gone the sooner the league can reverse all of his numbskull decisions like changing the overtime rules for the playoffs. And now he’s fining players for knocking the snot out of other players which is what they get paid to do and is why i and most fans watch the game anyway. I like the violent aspect of the game. Goodell is trying to turn the NFL into flag football. And i’m NOT the only one that thinks that. Geaus Saints!

  4. malthor says: Aug 4, 2011 8:24 AM

    This is confusing 2 different issues.

    I agree, the fines for those kinds of hits are absolutely correct and necessary, stupid players are wrong and for some odd reason seem to be nearly exclusively steelers…..

    On the other hand, since Goodell became commissioner the game has definitely softened a lot.

    This is not the NFL of the 80s and first half of the 90s, it’s a game geared to females at least as much as males and possibly more.

    The NFL’s concerted efforts to get my girlfriend to watch from pink jerseys to much smaller rules and marketing changes designed to make it more appealing are backfiring.

    Today the NFL is spending it’s time in many ways ignoring its fan base to pursue a fan base that 1) does not exist for the NFL, 2) has a direct conflict with the core fans and will cause the NFL to lose core fans.

    I am not “done watching” yet, but i also don’t spend my extra time watching regional games anymore. I used to, when the league and game were a lot better.

  5. redguy12588 says: Aug 4, 2011 8:30 AM

    Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

  6. tharealest0431 says: Aug 4, 2011 8:32 AM

    “its the right thing to do” ha give me a break! this post is a joke. He’s not only making the league soft, he’s ruining the d*mn game! SMH at whoever supports this clown…..

  7. chizzle20 says: Aug 4, 2011 8:34 AM

    B.S. more contact is allowed in my flag football league. And if a player brushes a QB’s shoulder…THERE’S NO PENALTY!!!

  8. mshu7 says: Aug 4, 2011 8:47 AM

    That situation would have made for a great “Want to get away?” Southwest Airlines commercial.

  9. broncobeta says: Aug 4, 2011 8:49 AM

    Yeah I’m pretty sick of hearing:

    “JUST LET THESE MEN PLAY GODDELL!!1!! STOP BEING SUCH A SISSY!1!!!1! THIS IS FOOTBALL NOT TEA TIME!!1!111!!! GO STEELERS SICKS RINGS BABY!”

  10. vdogg says: Aug 4, 2011 8:51 AM

    I would have loved for the guy Goodell called out to strap some pads on and head out there…he may have had a decent shot at making the Panthers roster

  11. bertilfox says: Aug 4, 2011 8:51 AM

    “Methinks he doth protest TOO much…”

    That’s Shakespeare for “That’s total B.S.!”.

    Again I say, he is softening the style of play in order to foster a basis for the enhancement of the Schedule (aka; the 18 Game Season) to wring more milk from the Cash Cow.

  12. cowboyfan45 says: Aug 4, 2011 8:52 AM

    I believe the problem has been that these players feel over protected by the armour they wear. Do you think there would be as many head injuries if the helmet wasn’t hard plastic with alot of padding and the shoulder pads over designed with so much padding and plastic. By the advancement of these new amoured gear the players wear, injuries seem to be on the increased, not decreased, personally I think the gear they wear is the problem, players wouldn’t be launching themselves with their head if they didn’t feel so well protected by the armoured gear they wear

  13. jpmelon says: Aug 4, 2011 8:56 AM

    I think that the HBO special that publicized the link between concussions and lou gehrigs disease is what prompted the change.

    It’s unreal to see what the disease does to people. You appear to be in a vegetative state, but your mind is still 100% aware of everything; you just can’t control your body (not even your face). I can’t say I blame the NFL for trying to prevent it from happening.

  14. steelersmichele says: Aug 4, 2011 8:59 AM

    Part of me wants Goodell to put some pads on and go out a play–and see how he reacts to situations when he has a second or two to make a decision on tackling a guy.

  15. redrew says: Aug 4, 2011 9:00 AM

    The pussification of football goes beyond the helmet hits. Training camps are tea parties now. Gym shorts and lemonade breaks. I’m predicting Keystone cop-like fiascos all over my TV screen. This is why it is important to remember….the NFL is no longer a sport, it’s Entertainment

  16. gbwally says: Aug 4, 2011 9:04 AM

    Moving the kickoffs to the 35 is lame. Probably done for player safety, but will be more touchbacks (boring) and less safe when they actually do decide to bring it out with where the defense starts.

    Also, Goodell being the only one who has the right to decide on player fines isn’t right. There should be some kind of committee to decide that instead of the almighty commissioner.

    Leaning down the slippery slope of pussifying, although still a long way from soft.

  17. axespray says: Aug 4, 2011 9:07 AM

    man, just let Brandon Merriweather play tha’ game tha’ way it’s suppose to be played!
    (15 years later)
    I’m gonna sue tha’ league for not lookin’ after me…

  18. hank10 says: Aug 4, 2011 9:07 AM

    Players are getting concussions without being hit directly in the head.

    -A hard body hit/tackle can snap a player’s head back, or being tackled to the ground can cause a player’s head to strike the ground so hard to cause a concussion.

    -Does the league start looking into limiting the size (i.e. weight) of players?

    -There are better helmets being developed but getting players to switch can be a problem because of the endorsement deals teams/players have with the manufacturers and switching brands. Or, some players wear their college helmets as they are more ‘comfortable’.

    -Helmets should be replaced after a few years, or after being damaged as their integrity is compromised. How many players do you see with beat-up helmets being worn as a badge of honor, or the TV folks admiring all the dents, scratches and gouges in them?

  19. pappysarcasm says: Aug 4, 2011 9:10 AM

    Besides, it’s the right thing to do, despite the fans’ desire to see large men knock each other out.

    hrrrrrmmmmppphhhh!

  20. chickey2010 says: Aug 4, 2011 9:14 AM

    tomsd1, the helmets haven’t improved that greatly? I’m just curious when the last time you played was or tried on one of these new helmets? The Rev’s, DNA’s, and Ion’s are lightyears ahead of where they used to be….

  21. nothimagain says: Aug 4, 2011 9:23 AM

    The NFL is held financially and publicly accountable when guys retire and become permanently punch drunk later on in life. Hmm, seems like a pretty good idea to crack down on the shots to the head. You know, the sort of hits that are likely to increase the league’s insurance and medical premiums.

    Once again, it just shows that some people will always hate cops, regardless of how good some may be.

  22. sanjosecupcrazy says: Aug 4, 2011 9:24 AM

    It’s sad that some fans don’t understand how much these guys are exposed to physically over the course of their careers. The games are going to be extremely physical — that’s never going to change….. but to take some of the hitting out of practices and the most violent, extreme hits out of games to protect these guys from awful physical maladies that plague them long after we stop cheering for them is the right thing to do. To argue against that is completely selfish and heartless. Essentially, you’re saying that your enjoyment of the biggest, most damaging hits NFL players inflict on each other is more important than their long-term health. Truly think about that.

  23. tommytd says: Aug 4, 2011 9:28 AM

    The NFL has NOT gone soft but Goodell has. In fact, he was always soft. I’ve never liked him. He’s a whimpy scaredy-cat. I bet you could say “BOO” and he’d jump 10 feet in the sky and crap his pants. The sooner he’s gone the sooner the league can reverse all of his numbskull decisions like changing the overtime rules for the playoffs. And now he’s fining players for knocking the snot out of other players which is what they get paid to do and is why i and most fans watch the game anyway. I like the violent aspect of the game. Goodell is trying to turn the NFL into flag football. And i’m NOT the only one that thinks that. Geaus Saints!
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Totally agree. I think he’s bad for the game and should be replaced. P.S., he’s soft on DISCIPLINE too! It’s not about what you did…it’s about who you are! Dump ‘em.

  24. sasquash20 says: Aug 4, 2011 9:43 AM

    If you don’t think the league has gone soft, your a tinkerbell. DL can’t lung at the QB when hes down, you can’t horse collar, you can’t lead with your head, its a joke anymore. But when you really think about it the entire country has gone soft, so we shouldn’t be surprised. We have become a big mound of fleshy soft skin!

  25. axespray says: Aug 4, 2011 9:44 AM

    tharealest0431 says:Aug 4, 2011 8:32 AM
    “its the right thing to do” ha give me a break! this post is a joke. He’s not only making the league soft, he’s ruining the d*mn game! SMH at whoever supports this clown…..

    ^ yea’ totally agree homie g dawg…
    I think we should just let tha’ playaz’ play and not read books and be crippled when they’re 30…Brandon Merriweather was just playin’ tha’ game dawg’….ka-durrh!?

  26. daburgher says: Aug 4, 2011 9:53 AM

    Again, if we are worried about head trauma, then require the players to wear the safest helmets possible. Goodell makes zero sense. He’s a fool that has never even played the game, yet he is the commissioner.. cmon. I hate that dude

  27. EJ says: Aug 4, 2011 9:53 AM

    Goodell:You still think it’s too soft? I don’t buy that for one second.

    Moments later, Goodell was seen with Rodney Harrison…

    Joining him for a spot of tea.

    Yes, the NFL has gotten too soft. Crist, the pioneers of the game played without helmets. They played Offense and Defense. Broken finger? Taped it and played. Hell, some of these guys would go to their full time job after playing a three hour mind numbing game. These boys today, even with the increase in size and speed, would be mocked by the men who brought us this sport.

    So yeah, too soft.

  28. steelersmichele says: Aug 4, 2011 9:57 AM

    redrew says: Training camps are tea parties now. Gym shorts and lemonade breaks….the NFL is no longer a sport, it’s Entertainment.

    This season is going to be very interesting. Without a good training camp, I wonder if more players will get hurt because they didn’t have enough conditioning. I also wonder if blocks will be missed and routes ran incorrectly because players haven’t had enough time to practice.

    I don’t want the game to be soft, but I also don’t want it to be sloppy.

  29. joetorious says: Aug 4, 2011 10:00 AM

    I’m all for protecting the players, but what Goodell has done (either directly or through influencing others such as the refs and competition committee) is:

    – killed the flow of games, making them take much longer to be played (due to the excessive amount of flags being thrown).

    – dramatically tilted the table against physical teams due to the excessive yardage associated with some of these calls (if you’re going to throw flags every play, they can’t be 10- or 15-yarders all the time).

    I’m giving the NFL one more year. If it resembles any bit of its 2010 self this year, I’m out. NCAA was way more physical, penalty-free and fun to watch last year, and I have no doubt that it will be this year too.

  30. broncobeta says: Aug 4, 2011 10:26 AM

    redrew says:
    Aug 4, 2011 9:00 AM
    The pussification of football goes beyond the helmet hits. Training camps are tea parties now. Gym shorts and lemonade breaks. I’m predicting Keystone cop-like fiascos all over my TV screen. This is why it is important to remember….the NFL is no longer a sport, it’s Entertainment
    ——————————–

    Yeah, you’re a moron.

    I hope your couch is comfy.

    Sincerely,

    Dave Duerson

  31. billygoat says: Aug 4, 2011 10:30 AM

    I will believe the league is concerned about safety when they start worrying about the linemen and not just the star players. Lineman bash heads all game long.

    Here is another one. Why is there no ban on a RB lowering his head to hit a defender.

  32. polishkingski says: Aug 4, 2011 12:19 PM

    i only played pop warner up thru high school (plus tons of sand lot) and still to this day have a knee and an elbow that are royal pains in my ass. it does not take a whole lot of common sense to see that as the men become stronger, faster and much bigger, steps MUST be implimented to at least try to reduce risks of serious injury. to say the game is soft deserved the exact comment mr goodell made as a rebuttal.

  33. Deb says: Aug 4, 2011 1:17 PM

    Mike, you’re being simplistic. Many of us want to see a safer game with fewer head injuries. But we question whether Goodell approached the issue in a responsible matter.

    He didn’t give it careful consideration in the off season. He didn’t open the season by informing players rules would be enforced more aggressively. He didn’t implement the ejection rule that’s been on the books for several years. He certainly didn’t make any effort to better educate officials about what is or isn’t proper tackling technique so they could flag (remember those?) players for improper hits at the time they occurred.

    No, he went off half-c*cked on a week when there were several dramatic hits because he feared Congressional intervention and imposed idiotic fines that have ZERO impact on the game. He made no effort to have an intelligent discussion about tackling technique. Several of those fines were reduced on appeal, and fines don’t help anyone on the field of play anyway.

    Not one study was conducted to determine whether the fining was reducing the incidence or severity of head injuries. Officials blatantly ignored one player punching another in the face with enough force to break his nose. The whole thing was a farce. And it’s a farce for sportswriters to claim any of that moved the NFL one hair’s breadth closer to a safer game.

    Insist on proper tackling technique, train officials to do their jobs, flag players on the field when it counts.

  34. CKL says: Aug 4, 2011 2:21 PM

    steelersmichele says:
    Aug 4, 2011 9:57 AM
    redrew says: Training camps are tea parties now. Gym shorts and lemonade breaks….the NFL is no longer a sport, it’s Entertainment.

    This season is going to be very interesting. Without a good training camp, I wonder if more players will get hurt because they didn’t have enough conditioning. I also wonder if blocks will be missed and routes ran incorrectly because players haven’t had enough time to practice.

    I don’t want the game to be soft, but I also don’t want it to be sloppy.

    __________________________________
    I agree and think that this year will not be a good indicator of new safety rules correlation with injuries due to the lack of team work before the season starts.
    Mike Mayock was on NFL channel yesterday and he feels just like I do: that it’s wrong to take so many practices away from coaches. Even Willie McGinest was on today and said that when he was with Parcells early on in his career Parcells would run 2 a days in pads both times and they would hate it but they would be more conditioned for the beating late in the year. I think 2 a days in pads probably is a bit too much but taking the padded practices allowed down to 14, with 11 of them having to occur week 1-11 sucks royally.
    So there are two former players right there Goodell who probably WOULD think the league is going a bit soft.

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