Bucs' Goldson has suspension overturned, defends play

Dashon Goldson celebrates a stop against the Saints during the second quarter of Sunday's game.
Dashon Goldson celebrates a stop against the Saints during the second quarter of Sunday's game.
Published Sept. 19, 2013

TAMPA — Saints quarterback Drew Brees says Dashon Goldson hunts heads.

"You can see it," he said of the Bucs safety Wednesday.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady believes if he played safety, he would use the same bell-ringing style.

"I don't think he's dirty at all," Brady said. "I think he plays the game as we learned to play growing up. He's an incredi­ble player.

"You've really got to keep your eye on him. It's not like you want to throw a bunch of balls in the middle of the field and see if he's going to make the play. There's usually a lot of big hits because he attacks the ball so aggressively."

Since the start of 2010, Goldson has been called for unnecessary roughness 11 times. He said he has never been a dirty player but intends to make sure all of his hits are within the rules from now on.

That message might have been head-slapped into Goldson's brain after a one-game suspension for Sunday's helmet-to-helmet hit on Saints running back Darren Sproles was reduced to a $100,000 fine.

He struck Jets tight end Jeff Cumberland in the helmet a week earlier and was fined $30,000. The suspension would have cost Goldson about $265,000.

"I know there's going to be a lot of eyes on me from now on," Goldson said. "That's okay. I've just got to be smart.

"I'm definitely not trying to hurt myself or another player."

Former Vikings and Ravens center Matt Birk heard the appeal and determined the fine, which ties Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh this season for the highest not involving a suspension in league history.

Goldson practiced with the team Wednesday and will start Sunday at New England.

"It's great that we have him back. We're fortunate," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "Dashon is a very physical player. I don't want to be in this position, and I know he doesn't want to be in this position."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said overturning the suspension does not mean there weren't consequences.

"It's not that there wasn't a violation of the rule, and it's not that there were not consequences for violating the rule," Goodell said. "So that … is a positive shift that the culture is changing. But the culture doesn't change overnight, and we will probably always have violations of rules."

News of Goldson's appeal victory did not sit well with Brees, who said Goldson "has no regard for the rules in the middle. He's going after guys' heads. You can see it."

Goldson said while he will continue to play aggressively, he has never tried to hurt a player.

"I'm an aggressive player. We all know that throughout the league," Goldson said. "My intention is never to go out there and hurt anybody. At the same time, I've got to be careful. I've got to take my shots when they present themselves but clean. No launching of course, no hats on hats. Just make sure I get the guy on the ground and do it properly."

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Rick Stroud can be reached at