NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Ever since Roger Goodell succeeded Paul Tagliabue as the NFL commissioner in 2006, one of his main focuses has been on player safety.
From new rules to protect quarterbacks, kickers and punters to the entire “Bountygate” scandal, Goodell has become notorious for doing everything in his power to protect football players from serious injury.
Some believe that the commissioner has gone too far in his quest for player safety, while others are of the opinion that Goodell’s commitment to the prevalent issue is commendable. Regardless, his devotion to changing the game in that regard cannot be disputed.
ESPN The Magazine’s Don Van Natta Jr. recently wrote a piece that examined Goodell and his practices, and he revealed just how obsessed Goodell has become with keeping his players safe.
“One of (Goodell’s) greatest fears: An NFL player is going to die on the field,” Van Natta Jr. wrote in his article. “Within the past year, Goodell has told friends privately that he believes if the game’s hard-knocks culture doesn’t change, it could happen again.”
Detroit Lions receiver Chuck Hughes died of a heart attack in a 1971 game.
“He’s terrified of it,” said a Hall of Famer close to Goodell. “It wouldn’t just be a tragedy. It would be awfully bad for business.”
Many former players have recently filed lawsuits against the league over concussions and brain damage. Hall of Famer Harry Carson said in October that he never would have played football had he known the effects of concussions, and Tiki Barber said in January that he fears for his health after years of playing football.
It’s statements like these that keep Goodell up at night.
“Player safety is Roger’s No. 1 priority,” New York Giants owner John Mara told Van Natta Jr. “It’s something, quite frankly, that he wants as part of his legacy as a commissioner.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that when it comes to changing the extremely violent culture of football, Goodell is the perfect man for the job.
“Roger is the best qualified person that I know in this country to do something about player safety,” Jones told Van Natta Jr.
Do you think that, in your lifetime, an NFL player will die on the field? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…