Roger Goodell’s camp visit stirs up venom from Bears players
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org August 1, 2012 10:34PM
“Yeah, things are bad. It’s like dictators, you know. You know, in America, we really don’t believe in them.’’ Bears cornerback D.J. Moore, on the growing rift between NFL players and commissioner Roger Goodell
Updated: September 3, 2012 1:26PM
BOURBONNAIS — Another 10,000-plus fans at Bears training camp Wednesday, and they weren’t withstanding the heat, or the traffic, to feast their eyes on Roger Goodell.
The NFL remains a showcase for the players. And the players clearly have issues with their controversial commissioner.
‘‘Yeah, things are bad,’’ Bears cornerback D.J. Moore said of the growing divide between the players and the commish. ‘‘It’s like dictators, you know. You know, in America, we really don’t believe in them.’’
And after a contentious couple of years, it’s safe to say many players don’t believe in Goodell.
‘‘Nobody trusts him,’’ New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said this week. ‘‘I’m not talking about a DUI, or using a gun in a strip club, which are pretty clear violations. I think there are too many times where the league has come to its decision in a case before calling a guy in, and the interview is just a facade. I think now, if a guy has to come in to talk to Roger, he’ll be very hesitant because he’ll think the conclusion has already been reached.’’
Goodell might not have played the game, but he sure knows how to duck a hit.
Asked about Brees’ critique during the Bears’ afternoon practice, he said, ‘‘I haven’t seen it.’’
Told that Moore called him a ‘‘dictator,’’ he simply snickered.
Goodell was in Bourbonnais as part of a camp tour to discuss with players, coaches, fans and media the key changes made in the offseason. He then had an ‘‘informal meeting’’ with ‘‘select players’’ from the Bears after practice.
While he came under the pretense of being a sounding board, players believe little, if anything, will change.
From his heavy-hand handling of player discipline to the rule changes that are turning the defensive side of the game into flag football, players want to see Goodell climb off his throne and install a third party with no allegiance to ownership or the players.
‘‘So he needs at least two, three or more to make a panel, create some democracy for the league,’’ Moore said. ‘‘If not, pretty much if he doesn’t feel a certain way about a certain thing, he can suspend you for the whole year.
‘‘Then there’s certain other stuff where you think guys should be suspended for the whole year, but he might not feel that way. So his personal feelings and opinions about things really affects the outlook of how the players are seeing him.’’
Goodell doesn’t seem inclined to change his own game.
‘‘When there are things that are going to impact on the integrity of the league and are going to violate very core principals, including player safety, I will be involved,’’ Goodell said, ignoring the question of a punishment board.
That response came just minutes after he discussed going to an 18-game schedule. Extra contact, extra injuries and extra revenue. Player safety?
How are the players taking it?
‘‘Bull [bleep], no, hell no. Hell no. [Bleep] no, [bleep] no,’’ Bears cornerback Charles Tillman said of the 18-game topic.
Goodell won’t back down.
‘‘No one likes to be disciplined, I understand that,” he said, ‘‘but we have 32 teams and 2,000 players.’’