Players tell commish sorry

Three players disciplined and fined last week took the initiative to personally apologize to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for violating player safety rules.

Carolina Panthers defensive back Dante Wesley, suspended without pay for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills for his flagrant hit on Tampa Bay Buccaneers punt returner Clifton Smith, actually spoke directly with Goodell by telephone to apologize. Wesley earlier had reached Smith, who suffered a concussion, by phone to express his regrets.

A team source said Wesley asked an NFL Players Association official to enable his conversation with Goodell.

Goodell then received an e-mail from two New York Jets special teamers, Marques Murrell and James Ihedigbo, also apologizing for their role in a nasty scrap with Derek Fine of the Bills. Murrell and Ihedigbo, who were ejected from the game, were fined $5,000 by the league. Though they were not suspended, Jets coach Rex Ryan made both players inactive for Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders.

The commissioner responded by telling the apologetic players that he appreciated their willingness to accept responsibility for their actions, re-emphasizing the importance of heightened player safety rules.

Chris Mortensen is a senior NFL analyst for ESPN.