Goodell has good things to say about Lions during visit to Detroit

Posted Dec 11, 2011

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t agree with the perception around the league that the Lions are a dirty team.

“I couldn’t disagree any more,” he told a reporter Sunday while visiting Ford Field to talk with a group of Lions season ticketholders and the media.

“Why would you say that? I couldn’t disagree with you more. Again, we have 32 teams and we have rules that apply to everybody equally. I would disagree with your statement.”

Goodell is in Detroit one week after the Lions incurred 11 penalties and three after-the-whistle-infractions against the Saints last week.

Over the last two weeks against the Packers and Saints, the Lions have 22 penalties and four personal-foul penalties.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz said he’s addressed the penalties with the team and receiver Nate Burleson said there’s and understanding among the players that those penalties won't be tolerated heading forward.

Goodell also talked about Lions suspended defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who served the second of a two-game suspension against the Vikings Sunday.

“I have great respect for Ndamukong,” the commissioner said. “He’s a heck of a young man and he’s a great football player and I spoke to him about 10 days ago and he wants to do what is right for the game and wants to do what is right for his teammates and what is right for him.

“He expressed this when he came in a month ago, ‘I have a responsibility to my teammates and I want to fulfill it.’”

The concern for Lions fans moving forward is whether Suh will be closely watched given his reputation and having to play on a shorter leash with the officials.

“No,” Goodell said. “The rules apply to all 32 teams and every player in the league and every coach in the league. We apply those rules consistently and fairly. If we have a repeat offender, they are aware of the fact that they have a prior history and that’s taken into consideration in the discipline.”

Goodell said he advised Suh to go through all his rights under the collective bargaining agreement and appeal the suspension when the two talked the days following Suh’s ejection on Thanksgiving for kicking Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith.

“I think he’s going to be a great player in the NFL for the years to come,” he said of Suh. “I was very impressed with the fact that he wanted to come in 30 days or so ago and take the time with our staff. Players don’t do that frequently. That speaks volumes about the kind of guy he is.”

Goodell touched on a number of subjects during the fan forum event before the game.

Goodell said he’s excited for the 2014 Super Bowl in New York and said a little snow during the game would be a “good thing” for the league. He was sure to point out that he meant a few inches of snow and not feet, though.

He was asked about the league officiating and said the complex rules associated with the game is making the league more conscious on educating not only fans, but the media and broadcasters, too.  Asked specifically about the officials, Goodell said that they get 99 percent of the calls right after league review.

Both Goodell and Lions president Tom Lewand touched on the fact that improving the fan experience at games is one of the biggest initiatives for the NFL heading forward.

Goodell was asked about the “process of the catch” rule and said there was no way to simplify the rule any further.

Most of all, Goodell said he was happy to be in Detroit watching the Lions play a meaningful game in December.