- Scott Powers, Reporter
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Amid growing criticism by NFL players over his disciplinary powers, commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday he expected such responses, but they wouldn't change how he oversees the league.
"No, you expect that (reaction)," Goodell said while visiting the Chicago Bears' camp on Wednesday. "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.
"When you're disciplining players, coaches, teams, I get the same reaction. But we have 32 teams and 2,000 players, so players want to make sure they're not being targeted for injuries, players want to know they're all playing by the same rules, and same with the teams. We'll continue to enforce those rules in what we think has been a very fair and open fashion."
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees recently spoke out against Goodell, telling SI.com, "Nobody trusts him. Nobody trusts him. I'm not talking about a DUI, or using a gun in a strip club, which are pretty clear violations. I think there're 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."
When asked about Brees' comments, Goodell said he hadn't seen them, but felt it was OK for players to disagree with him.
"I got lots of people who aren't very complimentary; I don't discipline them," he said. "I haven't seen (the comments). I have a lot respect for him. I admire him. I've known him for several years. We went over to Iraq and Afghanistan, and he's a terrific young man. He's a competitor. But we don't have to agree on everything."
Brees said on Wednesday he meant no disrespect to Goodell.
"I was asked direct questions about how the players felt and I gave a very honest and direct answer," he said. "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."
Bears cornerback Charles Tillman thinks the NFL would be better off if the disciplinary power was taken out of Goodell's hands.
"I don't think it should be his decision per se," Tillman said prior to Wednesday's practice. "I think it should go to someone who is not directly involved, impartial, like a judge. You get a prosecutor and then you take it to someone who is not for your party or my party."
Teammate Lance Briggs, speaking about the appeals process, agreed.
"It's like a dictatorship, a monarchy, and he's sitting at top and there's no veto power, there's nothing," the linebacker said on "The Carmen Jurko & Harry Show" on ESPN 1000. "It's judge, jury, executioner. It seems unfair."
Goodell attempted Wednesday to clear up his role in disciplinary matters and to explain how the NFL handles cases. He said he only steps in when he feels it's necessary.
"It doesn't fall on me, in fact," Goodell said. "The first thing is I don't get involved with any of the on-field discipline. It's actually done by a former player and the appeals are heard by a former player or former coach. The reality is I don't get involved a lot, and I spend a very small amount of time doing that.
"But when there's things that are going to impact on the integrity of the league and are going to violate the very core principles, including player safety, I will be involved with that."
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