Will Smith still respects Goodell

December, 13, 2012
12/13/12
4:28
PM ET
New Orleans defensive end Will Smith made a pretty amazing statement in this radio interview.

Smith
Smith said he still respects NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. To my knowledge, Smith might be the first Louisiana resident to utter anything close to that since March.

“I don’t think he’s the most popular guy in New Orleans, but, at the end of the day, he’s still the commissioner,’’ Smith said. “I don’t think the people of Louisiana will be too happy with him, but we still respect him and understand what type of job he has. It’s definitely difficult.’’

Smith was one of four players to initially be handed a suspension in the bounty scandal. But all the player suspensions were vacated on appeal earlier this week.

Of course, those statements came at the end of an interview in which Smith denied a bounty program ever existed, even though NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue's ruling in the appeal backed up Goodell's claim that the Saints ran a bounty program for three years. Smith also pointed a finger at former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Smith said Williams was the one that brought the program to New Orleans.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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