Player poll: Roger Goodell unpopular

A majority of NFL players aren't happy with the job Roger Goodell is doing as commissioner, according to a poll conducted by USA Today Sports.

The newspaper polled 300 active players from Dec. 19 to Jan. 12, and 61 percent said they disapprove of Goodell's performance.

The players polled were both on active rosters and practice squads, and the poll has a margin of error of plus- or minus-5 percent. Players were granted anonymity if they requested that their names not be made public.

Most of the players who said they disapproved of Goodell's job performance cited the increase in fines for hits on defenseless players and the commissioner's role in the league's investigation and discipline of the Saints for the team's bounty program.

Some of the 39 percent who approved of Goodell's performance cited his role in making the NFL the United States' most popular sport and the realization that being NFL commissioner is a thankless job.

Goodell was asked about the poll results by fans in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) Q&A on Reddit.com on Monday.

"I continually try to focus on issues that benefit the NFL in the long term, including, and most especially, our players. I truly respect our players and get tremendous feedback from them. They help us make better decisions. I look forward to working more closely with them in the future," he responded.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who has been an outspoken critic of Goodell, told USA Today Sports, "I think it's obvious that I disapprove." Harrison has been fined more than $100,000 in his career for hits the NFL has deemed against the rules.

"I feel like what he's doing is not totally for the safety of players. ... A lot of stuff they've done, [such as] fining guys crazy amounts of money for helmet-to-helmet hits and all that and saying you're doing this for the safety of players. But yet you want to add extra games to the regular season.

"In the true interest of player safety, I would have no issue with it. But that's not what it's about. It's about money," he told the newspaper. "Who hired Roger Goodell?"

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, responding to the poll, told USA Today Sports that Goodell "has tremendous respect for NFL players and always seeks their views" and "values their input tremendously in working to make the game better."