O'Hara's Monday Countdown: Goodell visiting Lions camp, but not to lay down law

Posted Jul 29, 2012

The Lions are getting a visit from the NFL’s top sheriff – Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has more power than most lawmen – and veteran receiver Nate Burleson could be a good choice to ask him a few questions.

First, let’s dispel the obvious notion about the timing of Goodell’s visit to training camp later this week.

Goodell isn’t coming to town to lay down the law about the spate of offseason arrests of Lions players. The total reached seven when cornerback Aaron Berry was arrested for a second time nine days ago and had his contract terminated by the team soon after. Goodell’s visit to Detroit has been planned for some time as part of his annual tour of training-camp sites.

Having said that, the issue of player conduct – or misconduct – is certain to be part of the commissioner’s message in any exchange with players, coaches and other club officials. Goodell’s visit is part of this week’s Monday Countdown, along with Burleson’s recent participation in the NFL’s Broadcast Boot Camp, held yearly for select players interested in pursuing a broadcast career.

There’s also a look at how one player on the Lions’ roster felt about Aussie countryman Adam Scott blowing the British Open, one man’s opinion on Matthew Stafford’s effect on practice, and rookie Ryan Broyles’ move to the active roster.

We start with Goodell’s visit:

1. Roger that: Goodell often takes criticism from players for penalties he hands down for infractions on the field – usually late hits and illegal hits. But it’s hard for anyone not to say yes to the message on personal conduct that he has hammered on since succeeding Paul Tagliabue as commissioner in 2006. Disciplining players and club officials, in the form of fines and suspensioins, for violations of the personal conduct policy has defined much of Goodell’s tenure as commissioner. He is a zealous protector of the image of the NFL shield. While his visit to Detroit was not scheduled in reaction to the player arrests, count on it being a signficant discussion point when he meets with media and fans.

2. Fan interaction: If plans and schedules can be arranged, it is likely that Goodell will have a Fan Forum, similar to the one he held in his visit to Ford Field before the Lions-Vikings games last Dec. 11.

In that visit, Goodell took questions from fans for about an hour, then met with the media.

3. Burleson’s view: Of the handful of Lions players I talked to about Goodell’s visit, the first reaction was that Goodell’s visit was in reaction to the offseason arrests. That is not the case.

One question Burleson says he would like to ask Goodell involves trash-talking on the field. He’s for it.

“I would like to ask him, why not let a little bit of the chippiness go a little bit more,” Burleson said. “Nothing malicious. No punches thrown. No face-mask grabs, but a little bit of that old school, early ‘90s, smack talk.

“I appreciate that part of the game. I love getting in a defensive back’s face after I make a play, and I like it when he gets in mine. It gasses me up. I don’t like the ref jumping in, separating us.”

4. The lawman: Burleson has a pragmatist’s view of how Goodell dispenses punishment.

“To be honest, he’s got a tough enough job as it is,” Burleson said. “If he doesn’t do anything, he’s going ot hear about it. If he does something, he’s going to hear about it.” Burleson understands the attitude of fans. Most want players fined or suspended – and cut by the team in many cases.

“Fans love it – unless it’s them getting fired,” Burleson said. “What people have got to realize is, whether it’s in pro sports or just the everyday nine to five, people get fired and hired all different times.

“Obviously, the dollars we make are a little bit bigger than average, but people get fired all the time, whether it’s conduct detrimental to the company downtown, or conduct detrimental to the team you’re with.”

5. Boot camp: Burleson is a savvy media participant as he enters his third season as a Lion, and he could have a broadcast career after his playing career. The NFL recruits players for its Broadcast Boot Camp, and most find that it isn’t a vacation away from summer workouts. “It wasn’t a cakewalk,” Burleson said. “We were there from sunup to sundown, and they were real critical – recording everything and breaking it down in front of our peers.”

Burleson has been told he’ll do a show this year on the Sirius network. His work at the boot camp was critiqued – almost like being in the film room.

“I learned a lot,” he said. “Hopefully, I can utilize those things and create some kind of a career afterwards.”

6. Aussie lament: Adam Scott of Australia was flying high a weekend ago. He was on the way to winning the British Open – until he bogeyed the last four holes to lose to Ernie Els by a stroke.

Punter Ben Graham was flying high, too. He was at 35,000 feet, on the way to Detroit from Los Angeles, and watched his countryman fold, spindle, mutilate, crash, burn and lose the Open. “I watched the final nine holes on the flight,” Graham said. “It was on satellite TV. I felt for him. He was in great position. He’ll bounce back.”

Is all of Australia in mourning? “We love our sports people, and we love seeing them do well,” Graham said. “It was a great opportunity. That’s golf.”

7. Injury list: After all the discussion about whether the Lions wasted a draft pick because wide receiver Ryan Broyles was known to be coming off knee surgery when the Lions took him in the second round, Broyles wound up missing two practices. Broyles was added to the active roster on Sunday.

8. The Stafford factor: Having a franchise quarterback affects a team in a lot of obvious ways. One way not so obvious is in practice. Everything runs smoother when the quarterback can deliver the ball. It even helps the defense when things run smoothly.