DETROIT (CBS Detroit) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spent time Thursday in Detroit, where Lions players have made national headlines with a series of off-season arrests for drug and alcohol-related offenses.
But Goodell wasn’t here to cast stones.
“I think anytime you have these issues it detracts from the people who are doing great things, there are so many great players on this team and throughout the league and when these issues occur they reflect poorly on all of us,” he said. “I think that’s the reason I believe the Lions want their standards upheld and we as a league feel that way and the players feel that way.”
So, how much of his visit was meant to serve as a warning to the team?
“I think that’s true whenever we go into training camp we take a moment to talk with the players, coaches, front office, ownership to try to understand what’s going on what are the trends the issues,” Goodell said. “Obviously the Lions have made it very clear what they are all about their standards and what they expect their players and other people in the organization be held too and they are backing it up.”
Goodell said he didn’t want the misbehavior of a few to detract from the whole team, saying, “I think anytime you have these issues it detracts from the people who are doing great things, there are so many great players on this team and throughout the league and when these issues occur they reflect poorly on all of us. I think that’s the reason I believe the lions want their standards upheld and we as a league feel that way and the players feel that way.”
He added that he had not talked yet to the two players with the most notorious arrests, Mike Leshoure and Nick Fairley, who face multiple drug and alcohol charges. The NFL suspended running back Leshoure two games and fined him an additional two game checks after two separate arrests and guilty pleas; Fairley, also arrested twice and charged with DUI, fleeing and eluding police, and possessing marijuana, hasn’t had his day in court yet.
Goodell said the NFL may not wait until it plays out in court to suspend Fairley, though he wants to be respectful of the system.
“I haven’t talked to them today, I haven’t had a chance to see them yet but I will see them after practice,” Goodell said.
What did he plan to say when he did catch up with them?
“The same message to them all along,” Goodell said, adding, “You are an NFL player and you have to conduct yourself a certain way and hold yourself to that standard.”
And how did he feel after the Lions seven arrests? “I think you are disappointed when you hear any of that, because again it reflects poorly on themselves first, all players and the NFL in general. Our fans don’t want to see that, so we all have an obligation to our fans to hold up that standard.”
Speaking of standards, how does he feel about Jahvid Best not returning yet after a concussion? Goodell said he supports anything that makes the game safer.
“Well, first off in Jahvid’s case the medical personnel of the Lions are taking very cautious approach which is the correct one,” Goodell said. “It’s a medical decision, and that’s true throughout the league, we have a better awareness and understanding, there’s still a lot of unknowns when it comes to head injuries and being able to determine when someone’s gonna recover or how they recover and that’s one of the challenges we have in medical science right now. we are not waiting were trying to be proactive and make changes to our game to make the game safer.”
He added that he’s “very closely” watching Best’s situation. “The medical care our players get is extraordinary. Jahvid in particularly has seen a number of doctors outside of the Detroit Lions organization. Mutual doctors and they are all focused on his case and make the best decisions for Jahvid Best.”