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61 percent of players disapprove of Roger Goodell in media poll

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

The percentages aren't a sure-fire fact but if you're Roger Goodell and the NFL office and trying to prove how much your players like you it's a bad start to see a media poll showing that 61 percent of players disapprove of Goodell.

The poll was conducted by USA Today and it "only" features 300 players asked, but that's a pretty stunning disparity between love and hate for Goodell. Most players, naturally, were granted anonymity if they wanted. Not all, like Steelers linebacker James Harrison, took it.

"I think it's obvious that I disapprove," Harrison, who's been at odds with Goodell frequently during his career, said. "I 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.

"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?"

Part of the reason Goodell draws the ire of players is the recent slew of events that pitted the league and players against one another in the public spotlight. The lockout, players suing the NFL over head injuries, the Saints bounty scandal and the replacement refs issue all negatively contributed to Goodell's image among the players.

But many players, like Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, also understand that controversy is just part of the job.

"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."

That's certainly a fair point: many players disagree with the way the game of football is going, physically, and for totally different reasons. Some believe it's too dangerous. Some believe it's too soft.

Players also take different sides on the Bountygate and many other different, controversial aspects of NFL life.

So there's a reasonable argument to be made that if Goodell is hitting a high number on his approval rating from players, he's actually doing a bad job.

"Roger Goodell has tremendous respect for NFL players and always seeks their views on a wide range of issues," league spokesman Greg Aiello told USA Today 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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