TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson said he has never been a dirty player but he intends to make sure all his hits are clean and within the rules from now on.
That message may have been head-slapped into Goldson's brain after his one-game suspension for a 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 against the Jets and was fined $30,000. The one-game suspension would have cost Goldson in the neighborhood of $265,000.
"I know there's going to be a lot of eyes on me from now on," Goldson said. "I mean, that's okay. I've just got to be smart. I'm not trying to hurt our team, I'm definitely not trying to hurt myself or another player."
Former Vikings and Ravens center Matt Birk served as the appeals officer and hit Goldson with a penalty that ties Ndamukong Suh for the highest non-suspension issued in league history.
The Bucs are fortunate to get Goldson back this week at New England when they take on the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady in a 1 p.m. game.
Because the Bucs already passed the $105,000 threshold, the team will also be fined at least $50,000 per the club remittance policy which is calculated at the end of the year.
Goldson practiced with the team Wednesday and will start Sunday against the New England Patriots in Foxboro.
"It's great that we have him back, we're fortunate," coach Greg Schiano said. "Dashon is a very physical player and we're going to work very hard. 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 Goldson's overturning of the suspension on appeal 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, in and of itself, is a shift, and 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. So obviously $100,000 is a pretty hefty fine. And I'm sure if it continues to happen, it'll be even greater punishment than that."
Goldson said while he will continue to play aggressively, he has never tried to hurt another player.
"I'm an aggressive player, we all know that throughout the league," Goldson said. "My intention is never to go out here and hurt nobody. I try to keep my hits within the rules and that's what I'm going to try to do week in and week out is make sure I get guys on the ground. 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."