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Power brunch

Updated: 7 p.m.

GEORGETOWN, Ky. - After meeting with the team and then brunching with half a dozen players before Saturday's Mock Game, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell praised the Bengals' efforts at policing his new player conduct policy.

Goodell, who then got a quick view of Toyota Stadium with Bengals president Mike Brown, left before the game so he could return to the Pro Football Hall of Fame festivities.

Goodell recently levied his third suspension against Chris Henry and suspended indefinitely Odell Thurman, players the Bengals cut this spring after another spate of off-field problems.

"I think they've been very responsible doing everything they can to support their players in trying to get them to make better decisions," Goodell said. "Unfortunately there are some players that haven't been able to make those decisions and they've moved on as an organization."

Goodell and Brown have struggled with the same kind of question: How much is enough?

"That's always the issue," Goodell said. "You want people to succeed. Mike, in particular, wants people to have the opportunity to succed. At some point if you continue to make bad decisions the organization has to move on and the Bengals are doing that. I think they've been very responsible."

Player conduct was a topic when Goodell met with middle linebacker Dhani Jones, wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, quarterback Carson Palmer, cornerback Leon Hall, defensive tackle John Thornton and left guard Andrew Whitworth.



"Dhani had a whole page of notes," Goodell joked of a conversation that ranged from conduct to safety, but hardly touched on the labor situation except that "there were issues that needed to be addressed."

At his ensuing news conference, Goodell elaborated on his decision to fine teams who have players suspended. He said draft picks wouldn't be one of the first three options as punishment, but he said the financial consequences would be clear.

"(The amount) depends on the length of the suspension," Goodell said. "And how much of the player's compensation while he's suspended. It also depends on how many players (from that team) have been suspended and the type of things the clubs do to support players."

Goodell also came out forcefully for cutting back the preseason by at least one game and maybe two and still staying on a 20-game schedule with either 17 or 18 regular-season games.

"That would be a better reflection on the quality of our game," said Goodell, who thinks consumers paying high ticket prices aren't getting their money's worth in the four preseason games.

Goodell is clearly intrigued by the shorter preseason that could be accompanied by a two-week break between the preseason finale and Opening Day because of the desire to open after Labor Day. He also indicated the league would find it attractive to move the Super Bowl back in February.

"We do like the two weeks between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. We want to try and maintain that," he said.

In a camp that has one of the two unsigned first-rounders in Keith Rivers, Goodell also reiterated his attempts to get a rookie wage scale for economic as well as non-economic factors.

"It's having economic consequences and affecting players in the league negatively," Goodell said. "And there are non-economic factors how it relates to the locker room. Veteran leadership probably suffers when you have rookies being paid more than veterans."

Goodell also said the NFL may look into broadening how Pro Football Hall of Fame members are selected.

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