NFL: Goodell warns players

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Associated Press
CHARLOTTE ó NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has a simple mantra when it comes to players feeling the need to carry a gun: Avoid those situations.
“The real issue to me, is when the players feel they’re unsafe, they shouldn’t be there,” Goodell said. “So get out, don’t be there. If you feel the need to have a firearm to be someplace, you’re in the wrong place.”
Speaking before Monday night’s game between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Goodell said the NFL has a strict gun policy but also must manage it against the constitutional right to bear arms. The questions arose in the aftermath of New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress’ accidental shooting in a New York City nightclub.
Burress was injured in the early morning hours of Nov. 29 when a .40-caliber Glock he was carrying in his waistband slipped down his leg, and as he grabbed at it, he accidentally pulled the trigger and shot himself in the thigh.
Giants teammate Antonio Pierce drove Burress to the hospital and spoke with police last Friday about the incident.
The Giants suspended Burress for the final four games of the regular season and placed him on the non-football injury list; Pierce remains active.
Goodell said the NFL is allowing the Manhattan district attorney’s office to finish its investigation.
“It’s a police matter, so we’re supportive of the police, and we’ll do whatever they need to cooperate,” he said. “I expressed that to the mayor and to the chief of police. We’re held accountable to the laws of the land, and so are our players.”
Although the police said last week that the information they were provided came from media reports, not the NFL, police commissioner Raymond Kelly has said the league has since been more forthcoming. And Goodell bristled at the idea the NFL ever slowed or stalled the investigation.
“I don’t agree with that. We have security directors who are former law enforcement people, or worked with law enforcement, and were fully cooperative,” Goodell said. “I spoke to chief of police myself and he said we’ve been perfectly cooperative and we appreciate that.
“We’re not going to hide anything from anybody. We’re very direct about it.”
In other topics:
– Goodell, who has made it his mission to rid the league of player misconduct, said his tough policies are clear to players. “I think they understand they have a certain code of conduct for players, coaches, commissioner, everyone involved with the game. I do think it’s getting through, but you always are going to have people who make mistakes.”
– He said the league would keep an eye on the developing situation with Panthers reserve offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges, who was arrested late Sunday night and charged with two misdemeanor counts of simple assault and battery and one count of communicating threats. He was released on bond, but inactive for Monday night’s game. It was Bridges’ second arrest in 16 months.
– Goodell spent about an hour Monday visiting Carolina owner Jerry Richardson in the hospital, where he was readmitted for tests relating to a pacemaker he recently had installed. He said he expected Richardson to remain active in negotiations with new Collective Bargaining Agreement.