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Goodell discusses discipline with Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After Roger Goodell finished addressing the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, the first player to approach him was Albert Haynesworth, the defensive lineman the NFL commissioner suspended for five games last fall for stomping on Dallas' Andre Gurode.

"He grabbed me right after the meeting and said he wanted to talk about the help he was getting," Goodell said during a ride to the airport with an Associated Press reporter. "He wanted me to know he was getting help for his problems. It was good to hear. You like to think that players who get in trouble can work on turning around their lives."

Discipline, which has defined Goodell's reputation, was not the primary reason for his Nashville trip. It was, he said, just another step to fulfill his pledge when he became commissioner last September to visit all 32 teams.

So he flew in from Canton, Ohio, where he was attending the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies to visit a team an hour away. And other subjects came up - from playing in Europe to player pensions.

Still, discipline had to be the focus because the Titans were Adam "Pacman" Jones' team for two seasons. Jones is now one of the poster children for Goodell's policies - the commissioner suspended him for a year following a series of run-ins with the law. Jones faces charges in Las Vegas for coercion for his involvement in a shooting in which a bouncer at a strip club was shot and paralyzed.

Goodell brought up Jones during the meeting.

"I wanted to address all the issues, but it was natural because this is the team he played for," the commissioner said.

And he was glad to talk to Haynesworth, who told reporters later: "He's a player's commissioner and a people person."

"It was awesome to meet him and talk to him personally," Haynesworth added. "He said 'Don't worry about me being the commissioner, just ask me questions.' I thought that was awesome."

Goodell was in the air back to Canton when Haynesworth said that, but he would have been happy to hear it.

During the ride to the airport, he talked about the perception that he's a tough commissioner, emphasizing that all his actions have come after consultation with the NFL Players Association and the newly formed players' advisory council.

"I have to take what comes in front of me," he said. "If it requires discipline, it's my job to act."

Goodell was introduced to the players by coach Jeff Fisher, but otherwise Titans front-office personnel and assistant coaches were kept from the meeting. The commissioner was accompanied by Ray Anderson, the NFL's vice president for football operations and two of his top aides, Joe Browne and Peter Abitante.

After the meeting, which lasted close to an hour, Goodell watched practice, the first 15 minutes or so with Fisher. He chatted with some players individually, notably quarterback Vince Young and two veterans: backup quarterback Kerry Collins and center Kevin Mawae.

Like Haynesworth, the other Titans said they were impressed.

"I felt like I had a better understanding about who he was as a person," said safety Chris Hope, who acknowledged he was interested in Goodell's thinking about Jones.

"With him coming in and dropping the hammer on so many people you get this bad impression about him. So you probably feel like he's this disciplinary guy who wants it all his way, and it's not about the players. As a result, once listening to him and once hearing his opinions on issues, he's all about the players. ... He's continuing to try to keep our league with a positive image.

Goodell said that was his message.

"It's media perception," he said about his image as a disciplinarian, adding that it basically stemmed from his actions in four cases: Jones; Tank Johnson and Chris Henry, each suspended for eight games; and Michael Vick, whom he told to stay away from Falcons camp while facing a federal indictment for dogfighting.

The players seemed satisfied.

"We've had a lot of discipline issues, and it's important for him to know how we feel about Pacman and how important he is to our team," Hope said. "He basically opened up, opened up to us, gave us some of his free time that he didn't have to do and kind of allowed us to get to know him as a person."

Added linebacker Keith Bulluck, the team's defensive leader: "It's cool. ... It was a great opportunity. I can't say that Paul Tagliabue ever came in and met with this team. It's good for the young guys to see the commissioner come in and care, especially with Pac not being with us. He allowed that to be open for questions."

It was exactly the reaction Goodell hoped for.

AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker contributed to this report.

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