Originally posted on Helmet2Helmet  |  Last updated 3/6/13

As part of his longstanding concern, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is constantly striving for ways to make the game safer for its participants.

But that doesn't mean his conscience is completely free and clear.

In a writeup for ESPN The Magazine, Don Van Natta Jr. spoke with several sources around Goodell, one of whom claims the commish is particularly scared of a NFL player dying on the field.

"He's terrified of it," says a Hall of Fame player who speaks regularly with Goodell. "It wouldn't just be a tragedy. It would be awfully bad for business."

Van Natta Jr. cites the one-time occurrence in 1971, when Lions receiver Chuck Hughes died of a heart attack during a game. As such, Goodell "told friends privately that he believes if the game's hard-knocks culture doesn't change, it could happen again."

Though he's faced intense scrutiny in his tenure, Goodell has the support of his bosses -- NFL team owners -- who believe protecting the league's players is at the top of his totem pole.

"Player safety is Roger's No. 1 priority," Giants owner John Mara said. "It's something, quite frankly, that he wants as part of his legacy as a commissioner."

"Roger is the best qualified person that I know in this country to do something about player safety," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

Many players don't feel the same. In fact, just the opposite. There are those who think the game is degenerating into a shell of itself, and others who are completely opposed to any further rule changes.

Despite all else, Goodell, for as long as he's commissioner, will do whatever he can to prevent another Hughes-like tragedy. It's been repeated ad nauseum, but the NFL is a business above all else. There's nothing worse for business than if one of its employees kicked the bucket while on the proverbial clock.

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