NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

NEW YORK (CBS SPORTS) – The percentages aren’t a sure-fire fact but, if you’re Roger Goodell and the NFL office, and trying to prove how much your players like you, it’s a bad start to see a media poll showing that 61 percent of players disapprove of Goodell.

The poll was conducted by USA Today and it “only” features 300 players asked, but that’s a pretty stunning disparity between love and hate for Goodell. Most players, naturally, were granted anonymity if they wanted. Not all, like Steelers linebacker James Harrison, took it. “I think it’s obvious that I disapprove,” Harrison, who’s been at odds with Goodell frequently during his career, said. “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.”

Part of the reason Goodell draws the ire of players is the recent slew of events that pitted the league and players against one another in the public spotlight. The lockout, players suing the NFL over head injuries, the Saints bounty scandal and the replacement refs issue all negatively contributed to Goodell’s image among the players.

But many players, like Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, also understand that controversy is just part of the job. “Anyone who has that position, who’s trying to protect the league and what it stands for, is going to run into controversy,” Romo, who approved of Goodell in the poll, said. “There are always going to be positives and negatives that go with it, but I know that Roger in his heart has the best interests of the league. … If you’re appeasing everybody, you might not be doing the job well.”

That’s certainly a fair point: many players disagree with the way the game of football is going, physically, and for totally different reasons. Some believe it’s too dangerous. Some believe it’s too soft. So there’s a reasonable argument to be made that if Goodell is hitting a high number on his approval rating from players, he’s actually doing a bad job.

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