While the NFL has been "quiet publicly" about a string of player arrests recently, privately, Commissioner Roger Goodell "has been working with the union to solve the mess," according to Mike Freeman of CBSSPORTS.com. Goodell last week met with NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith, and the meeting "was kept mostly quiet but it could be one of the most important of both men's tenure." Goodell said, "We are going to do some things to combat this problem because some of the numbers on DUIs and domestic violence are going up and that disturbs me. When there's a pattern of mistakes, something has got to change." Player arrests in recent years "are rising, going from 42 in 2010, 44 in 2011 and 48 so far this year." Goodell said that he wants to "strengthen already existing policies." Freeman noted the NFL also may "add some new ones, assuming they can work out something with the union." Both sides have "pledged to keep the substance of their talks private." Freeman: "There is the sense that something will indeed get done and I also get the feeling that changes won't be cosmetic." Goodell also "addressed what has been criticism from players including union leader" and Saints QB Drew Brees. Goodell said, "I have no issues with Drew. ... Taking criticism is part of the job. There are 32 teams and 2,000 players. Not everyone is going to like you. But in the end what you have to do as commissioner is what's best for the league" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/1). Brees said, "I was asked direct questions (by Sports Illustrated's Peter King) about how the players felt and I gave a very honest and direct answer. It was blown out of proportion a little bit when people said I was bashing the commissioner. That was not the case. That was all I said and I really have nothing else to say about it" (AP, 8/2).
EVERYBODY'S A CRITIC: In Chicago, Joe Cowley writes NFL players "clearly have issues with their controversial commissioner." After a "contentious couple of years, it's safe to say many players don't believe in Goodell." At Bears training camp yesterday, CB D.J. Moore said of the growing divide between the players and commissioner, "Things are bad. It's like dictators, you know. You know, in America, we really don't believe in them." Cowley writes 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." Moore said, "He needs at least two, three or more to make a panel, create some democracy for the league. If not, pretty much if he doesn't feel a certain way about a certain thing, he can suspend you for the whole year." Goodell "doesn't seem inclined to change his own game." Goodell said, "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" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 8/2). Goodell said that he "expected such responses, but they wouldn't change how he oversees the league." Goodell: "I've been in the league 30 years. When you do things you know that certain players, teams don't really approve of, there are people who do. What you have to do is do what's right to keep the integrity of the sport" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 8/1).
SOCIAL MEDIA SCHOOLING: ESPN CHICAGO's Melissa Isaacson noted in '09, the NFL "amended its policy for use of Twitter and other social media platforms by players, coaches and other team personnel on game days, prohibiting its use starting 90 minutes before a game until postgame media interviews conclude." Goodell yesterday said, "I think we've tried to encourage our players to (use Twitter) but do it responsibly. One thing about technology is you have to be accountable for it. It's clear, there's evidence, so I hope players are starting to understand. It's a great technology and it's great for you and it's great for the fans, but you better do it wisely." Bears RB Matt Forte said, "It is a tool. When the media puts out a lot of articles about you, nobody can tell people that it's right or wrong except yourself. So if they're going to put a story out there saying my knee is bad, I'm going to show the truth." Moore said, "We have the media relations people show us videos and talk [to] us about tweets and camera phones and stuff, so we get warned." Once you give your opinion on something real big, it can have a big backlash, so I leave that to the people on TV. I might have an opinion in my head, I just keep it to myself" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 8/1).
NOT QUITE YET: The NATIONAL FOOTBALL POST's Brad Biggs noted former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was suspended from the league for his role in the bounty scandal, "has expressed a desire to return to the NFL and Goodell has said his situation will be evaluated in the future." Goodell: "Our staff has talked to him a couple of times. He wants to be helpful in making sure people understand that bounties aren't a part of football and that is not what he is about. He is going to be active in doing that this season" (NATIONALFOOTBALLPOST.com, 8/1).