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Goodell says players have his ear but won't be judging hits

CINCINNATI -- Sorry, Troy Polamalu. Commissioner Roger Goodell says active NFL players won't be deciding punishment for flagrant hits that merit fines.

Goodell wants to hear their opinions, though.

The commissioner said Monday the league has been opposed to allowing active players or team officials to get involved in deciding punishments. The league recently increased its enforcement of rules against flagrant hits.

The Steelers safety has been outspoken against the crackdown, saying it has caused paranoia around the league. Teammate James Harrison was been fined $100,000 for three hits, prompting him to talk briefly about retiring. Polamalu suggested last week that current players and team officials should be involved in deciding punishments.

Goodell indicated that's not going to happen.

"There are league executives involved and there are former players involved," Goodell said, before a program promoting the Monday night game between the Bengals and Steelers. "I think having active players and active front office executives is something the competition committee has always frowned on."

Goodell emphasized that he's not part of the fines process, which was set up with the players' association.

Last week, Goodell summoned Harrison to his office to talk about his late hit on Saints quarterback Drew Brees two days earlier. Harrison later was fined $20,000 for the play.

Harrison also has been fined $75,000 for a helmet hit on Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and $5,000 for slamming Titans quarterback Vince Young to the ground this season. Goodell got Harrison's opinions on the crackdown.

"I always seek to get players' involvement," Goodell said. "I actually work very hard to make sure we understand the players' perspective. As a matter of fact, bringing James Harrison in last week was an opportunity to be able to hear from an active player -- what he's thinking, what's his perspective, what's he challenged with -- so we can make sure we understand that as we're going forward in the season."

Harrison mentioned the difficulty in trying to hit a moving runner.

"I think James is an outstanding player and I think he's a guy who wants to play the game within the rules," Goodell said. "He's certainly a tough football player, and I admire him very much on that level.

"I think one of the things he's frustrated by is ... when the offensive player is moving, how do I as a defensive player adjust? I think that's something that our competition committee and all of our coaches and our player committee often have talked about, and I think that's something we've got to try to continue to address."

Goodell appeared at a downtown luncheon along with several former Bengals players to promote the Monday night game. He also planned to visit fans tailgating outside Paul Brown Stadium before the game.

"They really love the game, and I think it's important for us to understand their perspective not just about the game but also their experience with the game," Goodell said. "We always look to what can we do to get fans to participate more, and that's something we strive to do. They want more participation in the game."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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