Goodell thinks five suspensions will stand up in court

Updated: December 8, 2008, 9:29 PM ET
By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell thinks the suspensions of five players for violating the league's anti-doping policy will be upheld in court.

A federal judge asked for more time to make a decision on the suspensions of Minnesota Vikings' Kevin Williams and Pat Williams and New Orleans Saints' Deuce McAllister, Will Smith and Charles Grant. The league originally ruled they would begin serving their four-game suspensions Sunday, but four of those players ended up playing after the judge's ruling. Grant was already on the injured-reserve list.

"We believe there's no question about it from the standpoint of when you look at the facts,'' Goodell said before the "Monday Night Football" game.

"It's a collectively bargained program. We have an independent administrator. We believe that we're certainly within our rights. It's fair and it's consistent within that policy. The players understand, you are held accountable for anything that's in your body.''

The league said the players tested positive for a banned substance that was contained in a supplement.

"The core issue of our policy and it's very clear to every player is you are responsible for what's in your body,'' Goodell said. "We have been very clear. If you take supplements, which is an unregulated industry, there's a danger that there are things in a supplement that aren't on the label that are against our policy, so you're taking a risk.''

Houston Texans long snapper Bryan Pittman was also suspended but was not included in the lawsuit. David Cornwell, Pittman's lawyer, told the AP that his client isn't included because his circumstances "differ substantially from the men who used StarCaps." Cornwell said he didn't think a challenge by Pittman would succeed.

In other topics:

• 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.

"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."

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."

• 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."

• Tampa Bay is on track to successfully host February's Super Bowl, and Goodell isn't concerned the economic crisis will spoil the event. "We're pouring the normal amount of resources into the event," he said. "I think we changed one event Saturday night because we thought it would be more effective to put our focus somewhere else. But for the most part, we're going 100 miles per hour on that, and we think it will be a great event."

Pat Yasinskas covers the NFC South for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

ALSO SEE