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NFL: Goodell to step up crackdown on illegal hits


NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he plans to continue to focus on improved player safety by escalating his crackdown on players who repeatedly dish out illegal hits.

Speaking during his annual state of the league address Friday, Goodell said he wants to see even tougher penalties on players who cause injuries with their hits and the only way to do that is by banning them from games.

"I think we're going to have to continue to see discipline escalate, particularly on repeat offenders," said Goodell just two days before the Baltimore Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 47 at the Superdome.

"It's not just the defenseless player that's being protected, it's the person doing the striking.

"The most effective way of doing that ... is when they are repeat offenders and they are involved in these dangerous techniques, that we are going to take them off the field.

"Suspension gets through to them."

Goodell said the league's competition committee will be looking into new ways to take dangerous low blocks and head shots out of the game.

Neurosurgeons will be a new addition to game-day medical staffs and he introduced plans to implement expanded physicals at the end of each season.

Asked about US President Barack Obama's recent comment that he would think twice about letting a son play football, Goodell said he welcomed Obama's input.

"I welcome the President's comments because it has been a priority," Goodell said. "And we want to make sure that people understand what we are doing to make our game safer, not just the NFL but throughout sports.

"We are proud of our accomplishments and we have more to do, but we will not relent on this."

Goodell also said "the science is there" so he is hopeful there will be testing for human growth hormone before next season begins.

"I believe that HGH testing is going to happen prior to the 2013 NFL season," he said. "It is the right thing to do for the players, for their health and well-being long term.

"It is the right thing to do for the integrity of the game. It's also the right thing to do to send the right message to everybody else in sports. You don't have to play the game by taking performance-enhancing drugs."

Goodell also said that Super Bowl 48 will "undoubtedly" determine whether cold-weather sites will host future Super Bowls.

Earlier this week, Ravens' quarterback Joe Flacco questioned the wisdom of having next year's Super Bowl in New Jersey in February.