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Goodell: I don’t want to take away the toughness of the game


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has heard all the criticism from NFL players who think he’s going way too far in fining them for on-field hits, but Goodell says he doesn’t want to change the nature of the game.

Instead, Goodell said today on ESPN Radio, he’s simply trying to make moderate changes to the game to make it safer — and he said that for every linebacker or defensive back who doesn’t like his emphasis on protecting defenseless players, there’s a quarterback or receiver who does like it.

“It depends on the player and what position they play,” Goodell said. “We want to make the game safer, but we don’t want to take anything away from the toughness of the game and why we love the game. But there are clearly changes that have happened through the decades where techniques have been taken out of the game and they’ve made the game safer, and they’ve made players safer, and hopefully extend their careers. That’s good for them.”

Goodell said players have long resisted the league’s efforts to make the game safer, going back decades before he became commissioner.

“I recognize the reaction — we had it back in the 70s when we put more protection in for the quarterbacks,” Goodell said. “You saw, ‘We should just let the quarterbacks wear skirts.’ It’s just part of the evolution of the game, but we’re going to continue to do that, to make the game safer, to extend careers, and continue to produce high-quality football.”

According to Goodell, the record ratings the NFL has had in recent years prove that the changes he’s making to the NFL are changes the fans support.

“When you look at the ratings, when you look at the attendance, when you look at the passion for the game, they’re all on the rise,” Goodell said. “So it’s obviously working in a positive way.”

But Goodell’s logic there isn’t necessarily sound: Fans love football and are tuning in to NFL broadcasts in record numbers, but that doesn’t mean they love everything about the way the NFL is being run right now. Emphasizing the safety of players is admirable, but Goodell shouldn’t assume the fans are in his corner on this issue — and he shouldn’t assume they’ll agree with his contention that he hasn’t taken away from the toughness of the game.

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62 Responses to “Goodell: I don’t want to take away the toughness of the game”
  1. pigskinswag says: Sep 6, 2011 10:09 AM

    Feel the furious fury of Fuhrer Goodell

  2. jmphinsfan says: Sep 6, 2011 10:10 AM


  3. Steeler's Will says: Sep 6, 2011 10:11 AM

    Oh the title alone should generate a ton of comments 😉

  4. ticalcaldwell says: Sep 6, 2011 10:12 AM

    really…could of fooled us….We want safety, but the kickoff rule has got to go…..I don’t know anyone who likes it…..

  5. richm2256 says: Sep 6, 2011 10:12 AM

    Goodell: I don’t want to take away the toughness of the game
    Nearly pee’d myself laughing at that quote!!!!!!

  6. touchdownroddywhite says: Sep 6, 2011 10:14 AM

    Goodell: I don’t want to take away the toughness of the game

    Fans: Who’s holding the gun to your head while you’re doing it.

  7. jdreed68 says: Sep 6, 2011 10:14 AM

    Football is a tough game and Injuries are (Sadly) a part of it. I suggest that you but more time and energy in finding equipment that protects players better instead of rules that protect players better. Two players colliding at 15 MPH is bound to cause injuries no matter how they are hit. I have noticed that most concussions are caused by the the way the player hit the “ground” versus the way the player was hit. Better equipment > harsher penalties!

  8. daburgher says: Sep 6, 2011 10:17 AM

    Goodell is delusional and in denial.

  9. trickbunny says: Sep 6, 2011 10:21 AM

    “I don’t want to take away the toughness of the game… but I’m going to anyway.”

  10. andrejohnsonforpresident says: Sep 6, 2011 10:22 AM

    Listen I hate making it safer too. Either way, i’d prefer that they take care of players who refuse to take care of themselves. Especially ones who inflict damage thats not warranted in certain plays. There’s no need for a 260 lb to launch himself at a 180-210 pound wr especially when hes not looking. You can do a good tackle and still hit hard without having to put his career in danger. It’s a dangerous game and everyone knows what they sign up for. Even still i’d rather see good careers last longer than see one obnoxious hit. They still have big hits they just don’t need to indanger anyone.

  11. jw731 says: Sep 6, 2011 10:22 AM

    Yes……The success of the NFL has nothing to do with the brutality of it…..It has to do with you sissyfying the game, everyone knows that Roger….I often wonder if his ears actually work or he can actually read…He forgot to add the “pin the tail on the donkey” way of fining players, also helps ratings….

  12. dickroy says: Sep 6, 2011 10:23 AM

    You already have. Ever know someone that says one thing then does another.
    He is refering to Jack lambert in the skirt statement. At least Jack meant what he said.

  13. raiderlyfe510 says: Sep 6, 2011 10:26 AM

    Of course QBs and WRs like it…QBs can stand brave in the pocket without regard of any real consequences…and soft WRs like Desean Jackson can run crossing routes and roam through zones without fear….it’s leads to bad football…glorified 7 on 7 drills…

    I mean then game is so soft now offensive players barely wear any padding..Goodell is outta touch..he’ll see as the blackouts rise.

  14. minkytails says: Sep 6, 2011 10:28 AM

    The problem is, the definition of a “defenseless receiver” is whether or not he caught the ball. This is true even if it is a perfectly legal, text-book tackle. If a DB timed his hit to be 1/2 second after the ball touches the receivers hands, he has 1/2 second to notice whether the receiver caught the ball, and change his trajectory. If the receiver drops the ball, the hit is fined $10,000. If he catches it, the hit is legal. If the hit causes the receiver to drop the ball, a fine is determined by how Goodell feels when he wakes up on Monday, at least it seems that way.

  15. derekjetersmansion says: Sep 6, 2011 10:28 AM

    @ touchdownroddywhite

    Who’s holding a gun? Sadly, the lawyers of former players.

  16. steelernationlolzatyouremptytrophycase6 says: Sep 6, 2011 10:28 AM

    Goodell is a liar and a dictator! Get him out of there! He wants to stop the Steel train! Not happening!

  17. breeshasasprole says: Sep 6, 2011 10:29 AM

    dont kid yourself Roger, you’ve already taken the toughness away.

  18. derekjetersmansion says: Sep 6, 2011 10:29 AM

    @ jdreed68

    Some players refuse to wear better equipment because it doesn’t look good. Seriously.

  19. hawkjuice says: Sep 6, 2011 10:31 AM

    I think the popularity of the nfl is growing in spite of all these changes. I’m not out asking thousands of people what they think but the general opinion I’ve heard is people don’t like the new rules.

  20. godzilla68 says: Sep 6, 2011 10:35 AM

    “Goodell: I don’t want to take away the toughness of the game”….

    Too late, you already have….

  21. touchdownroddywhite says: Sep 6, 2011 10:36 AM

    @derekjetersmansion –

    Fair enough, but these former players don’t really care about the safety of current players. They’re trying to find a back door to a paycheck they thought they were in line to get other ways.

  22. ossipeepats says: Sep 6, 2011 10:40 AM


    You’re absolutely 100% incorrect.

    Unless you can show me a link that says otherwise.

  23. raiderlyfe510 says: Sep 6, 2011 10:40 AM

    I know it’s nothing better than watching a Raider defender knocking a defenseless player’s headoff.

    My two favorite plays last year was Rolando McClain slamming a Rams player on his head then saluting the black hole. And knocking Darren Sproles into a concussion and laughing about it..

    My favorite game of the 2000s is the 2002 Bronco game when Bresnahan brought out the Big-Nickle defense and 7 Donkies got carted off the field.

    Goodell is Trippin..Football is a physical game…let’s keep it that way.

  24. 0 degrees Kelvin says: Sep 6, 2011 10:41 AM

    Roger quoting Jack Lambert. Roger dreams about the fines he could’ve given Lambert.

  25. 3octaveFart says: Sep 6, 2011 10:43 AM

    “I just to hand out wildly random and inconsistent fines for hitting people too hard, in a contact sport.”

    – Roger

  26. sterilizecromartie says: Sep 6, 2011 10:50 AM

    “When you look at the ratings, when you look at the attendance, when you look at the passion for the game, they’re all on the rise,” Goodell said.
    Attendance is down. Just look at the rising amount of blackouts. And don’t try to take credit for the ratings and passion for the game being up.. Thank fantasy football for that.

  27. joewilly says: Sep 6, 2011 10:51 AM

    Fine, if Goodell wants to protect QBs there is an easy solution. LEGALIZE INTENTIONAL GROUNDING! Allow QBs to protect themselves by ditching the ball when they’re in trouble but don’t change the game so QBs wear red jerseys and can’t be touched and then pretend it’s the only way.

    You can’t tell a guy playing defense to slow up, to not hit as hard as he can, etc. because you simply cannot play the game that way- these guys are fighting for millions of dollars and there is just no way to ask them to slow down and not have it affect the game.

  28. billinva says: Sep 6, 2011 10:53 AM

    Too late.

  29. dayumyou says: Sep 6, 2011 10:55 AM

    I think it’s time to drug test Goodell!

  30. KIR says: Sep 6, 2011 10:58 AM

    Is Taking away the the kill shot on receivers is like thing away knockouts in boxing.

  31. derekjetersmansion says: Sep 6, 2011 10:58 AM

    @ touchdownroddywhite

    What you’re talking about could be just jealousy of the fact of being born at the wrong time.

  32. GG Eden says: Sep 6, 2011 11:04 AM

    Goodell isn’t a good listener. A perfect example of that is he ALWAYS resorts to the line “the popularity of the game is at an all-time high” whenever trying to justify his stance on anything.

  33. novasive says: Sep 6, 2011 11:25 AM

    if u want to make game safer pay players the average man salery and u will see them stop hitting each other…and change to flag football…I say let them kill each other that’s why they sign up for…this is like telling a boxer not to hit the other guy….so lame..

  34. kestagg says: Sep 6, 2011 11:28 AM

    goodell is an idiot if he thinks more fans are watching because of his rule changes. a total idiot. i can see him now looking in the mirror saying ” they love ya rog… the absolutely love you”

  35. eduardoandradeiturribarria says: Sep 6, 2011 11:37 AM

    Just get rid of the kick off rule. There is more intensity in a single kick off than in complete games of other sports.
    Was anyone complaining anyway!

  36. thingamajig says: Sep 6, 2011 11:37 AM

    “According to Goodell, the record ratings the NFL has had in recent years prove that the changes he’s making to the NFL are changes the fans support.”

    No matter what the polls say he also thinks the fans want an 18 game season.

  37. gtmann says: Sep 6, 2011 11:38 AM

    To all those who want Goodell’s head on a platter, don’t forget Rodger does not make the rules. That is done by a committee of owners. Rodger only enforces them.

  38. rdrs68 says: Sep 6, 2011 11:38 AM

    I just want to run the NCAA too!

  39. yeti47 says: Sep 6, 2011 11:45 AM

    Strange….i thought football was about tackling hard and punishing hits. Not foo foo qbs, overprotected offensive players, and a penalty everytime gets hit too hard on the field. NFL is a joke. National Flag Football League is more like it.

  40. 52crabcakes says: Sep 6, 2011 11:51 AM

    Then step down, go away, retire, whatever it is you need to go, just do it!

  41. jambrochill says: Sep 6, 2011 11:52 AM

    I bet ya Marc savard of the bruins wishes there were some sort of head shot rule in hockey that would deter one from dishing out cheap shots. The dude can’t even remember what day of the week it is. The NFL has nothing to lose by taking head shots out of the game. It’s easy to talk smack when your 25-30 and you feel like Tony Toughnuts but I bet you When James Harrison can’t tie his shoes in 25 years he’ll reconsider his stance.

  42. vikesfan024 says: Sep 6, 2011 12:08 PM

    The new kickoff rule will be an experiment and if it results in as many touchbacks as is being predicted, and thus lower scoring, the competition committee will likely ax it next year. In regards to fines for hit, as a fan I like it. I think the worst part of the modern game is the loss of form tackling. Football is not supposed to be about killing the other player and taking flying leaps head first. I would much rather see a quality form tackle. Ray Lewis is one of the toughest guys in the league and he has never been fined for a hit, than I know of. I saw him just demolish Dustin Keller last year and it was a very clean, legal hit. Shoulder to the chest, arms wrapped, and Keller dropped like a sack of potatoes. Fans that like seeing helmet first spears and this diving tackle BS should stick to UFC if all they want to see is people beating the life out of each other. I back Goodell on trying to clean up the dirty hits.

  43. sommerday says: Sep 6, 2011 12:15 PM

    Roger Goodell is delusional.
    How does he reconcile his comments with the NFL fining Detroit Lions Suh for “shoving” Jay Cutler down last year?

  44. youdownwithjpp says: Sep 6, 2011 12:15 PM

    Goodell’s argument that fans support his changes because ratings are on the rise is like saying the Jersey Shore is a quality and informing show because their ratings are staggering.

    He is taking two unequivocal aspects of an equation and creating his own summation for personal gain and benefit. This is called PROPAGANDA and is frowned upon in a free individualistic society.

    People watch the Jersey Shore because it has that sense of watching a train wreck occur and our society delves in witnessing people’s lives unwind and founder (as of lately in the NFL it has been Vick, Plax, Pacman, etc).

    In respect to football we all have our own reasons to watching but to say the league is on the rise because we “the fans” want to see the NFL punish players that play and in turn hit hard is irrational.

    Boo for you Mr. Goodell.

  45. buckifan4life says: Sep 6, 2011 12:22 PM

    What he left out was, making it “safer” is pretty profitable for the league. If you are going to fine a player for an “illegal” hit, give the fine money over to the victim instead of lining your own pockets!

    Secondly, if a QB gets sacked, but the defensive player happens to have his arms up (to try and deflect a potential pass (called playing defense)) and comes into contact with the QB’s helmet, THAT’S A PENALTY?!?!?!. That has to change, because frankly, that is BS! They keep woosifying this league and I can tell you, I’ll slow down my interest…

  46. 1upberto says: Sep 6, 2011 12:31 PM

    Did he say when the players will start to wear flags?

  47. pigskinswag says: Sep 6, 2011 12:34 PM

    If we’re not careful, pretty soon, the NFL will come down to the quarterbacks for each team playing their opposing quarterbacks in a game of Madden.

  48. CKL says: Sep 6, 2011 12:48 PM

    gtmann says: Sep 6, 2011 11:38 AM

    To all those who want Goodell’s head on a platter, don’t forget Rodger does not make the rules. That is done by a committee of owners. Rodger only enforces them.
    Despite the thumbs down you are getting, you are right. The Competition Committee is the real villain here. Well them and the owners & team reps (GMs etc) who do everything in their power to keep head coaches out of the room when decisions on rule changes are being made. No one’s job is made harder than the HCs’ jobs when all this fluff BS goes down. They need to revolt. That said, Goodell is HORRIBLE as a spokesman. If he were better spoken and more intelligent (people smart) he could convey the owners’ wishes better IMO.

    derekjetersbigazzhouse ( 😉 ) is also right, players want to look good instead of wearing better equipment.

  49. granadafan says: Sep 6, 2011 12:54 PM

    Hey mein herr Goodell, here are the real reasons why ratings have risen in the NFL and not because the asinine rules you have put in:

    * Flat screen HDTVs
    * Fans deciding whether or not to sacrifice a mortgage payment or rent check just to attend ridiculously over priced games or watch on TV
    * Bad economy, bad economy, bad economy

    How times have we read that fans would rather watch games on TV than shell out $50 for parking, over $100 for tix, $10 beers, $8 hot dogs, etc when they can enjoy games at home or bars? Given the rise in blackouts, when is Roger going to get it?

  50. mark921129 says: Sep 6, 2011 1:01 PM

    Guess that explains the fine on Suh for pushing Cutler too hard…

  51. eduardoandradeiturribarria says: Sep 6, 2011 1:09 PM

    Is there something manly about blindsiding someone? I am all for avoiding anyone to hit someone in obvious disadvantage as a receiver that has to pay attention first to recompose himself from actually grabbing the ball before running again.
    Manly may be a LB colliding with an FB on an isolation play. That’s even. That’s fair.
    Where is the fun in having to worry about a spine breaking tackle on an uneven act of football.
    Now, in kick offs, the field is even for everyone every time. Give us back the kick off action!

  52. dave1961 says: Sep 6, 2011 1:11 PM

    Simply put, Roger Goodell probably never played football in his life. The idea of football is to make a play on the guy carrying the football, that includes receivers and quarterbacks period. You want to make millions to play a violent sport than their are risks associated with the game. If you don’t want to get the heck out of the game. Your fans don’t want some watered down version of tackle football… in other words flag football.

    Fans will stop showing up and watch it on tv. That is why teams can’t sell out anymore. Roger Goodell has turned football into fantasy football for nerds to get rich on. Good luck getting fans Mr. Comissioner we can tell you never suited up or played the game youself.

  53. jimbobobjr says: Sep 6, 2011 1:20 PM

    Make the game safer=avoid future lawsuits. Just say it, instead of insulting everyone’s intelligence. G.M.G. (Goodell must go!)

  54. petedutcher says: Sep 6, 2011 1:39 PM


    Offense sells tickets.


  55. jcjets says: Sep 6, 2011 1:43 PM

    I think Godell’s Point is that they are making these changes for player saftey (from his POV), AND the fan’s are still interested in the product. They’ve made these changes and the NFL is still the most successfull sports league.

    I don’t think he’s saying its successful because of the changes, but despite them its still huge.

  56. philrat says: Sep 6, 2011 1:46 PM

    Of course Goodell is taking the toughness out of the game. He is the worst commissioner in the history of the league. The only commissioner who has made the game worse.

  57. Deb says: Sep 6, 2011 2:02 PM

    I support genuine efforts to make the game safer. But Goodell is doing the lipstick-on-a-pig thing. You don’t come along after the fact and decide this hit is okay, but that identical hit is illegal … then say “There, isn’t Babe beautiful!”

    Officials are supposed to FLAG infractions on the field. If a linebacker deliberately head-spears a defenseless receiver, causing him to drop the ball, a flag will ensure the offense gets the first down anyway. That will deter linebackers from spearing receivers more than fining them after the fact. BUT the official needs to make that call based on whether the linebacker actually lowered his helmet and launched, NOT based on whether the receiver was knocked out or the linebacker’s name was Harrison or Suh.

    Goodell’s fine stuff is subjective and just for show. You want safety? Make rules and follow them consistently, objectively, on the field of play. Start by implementing the NCAA’s booth review system and better training officials.

  58. axespray says: Sep 6, 2011 3:13 PM

    Kickoff Rule and Reviewing all The Scores (cuz brad childress had to throw a tantrum) are some dumb rules, but I don’t have a problem with the Helmet To Helmet Fines.

    I wonder if offensive linemen cried this much back when the “No Cut Blocks” rule came into the league…

    quit crying players, you’re paid millions to play a game.

  59. ron69 says: Sep 6, 2011 5:03 PM

    Of course he has taken away some toughness of the game but let’s face it, he has no options, before it’s too late and see a dead player on the field, today players are a lot more stronger and faster than to say 20 or 30 years a go.

  60. paulieorkid says: Sep 6, 2011 5:37 PM

    Just who does Goodell think he’s fooling?

    Poll ALL NFL players; not just defensive players. They all hate the ad hoc, arbitrary and selective enforcement of Goodell’s rules, which apply some times and don’t apply at others. Mark Schlereth, a former offensive player, is one of many voices vehemently against Goodell’s reign of idiocy.

    Goodell thinks the fans are behind him. What a crock. Poll them too – yet another attempt by Goodell to polish a turd, that is easily refuted.

  61. goldsteel says: Sep 6, 2011 9:08 PM

    The Commissioner has no credibility except for the army of ex-players, lawyers, announcers and people running this board. Goodell is a PR guy with too much power and no feel for the game itself.

    Could Chris Collinsworth, one of Goodell’s lieutenants, hold his hands up to his face and say “Oh My Goodness” aka Shirley Temple, when he sees a hit he doesn’t like. Whenever the announcers start the incessant mantra about how Goodell cares about safety, the sound goes off. I don’t those idiots explaining what I’m looking at. Fire Goodell!

    The Rooney family rarely makes mistakes but making Roger Goodell Commissioner has to be at the top of their mistake list!


  62. derekjetersmansion says: Sep 6, 2011 10:22 PM

    @ petedutcher


    Good football and winning sells tickets.

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