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“You get exposed to a lot of things,” Goodell said. “That’s what we wanted to see. We wanted to see what was going on.”

Madden waved those meaty hands of his in the air while that familiar voice described what he’s enjoying about the trip.

“Seeing players. The smell of it. The action,” he said. “It’s great for the commissioner because he’s so good with all of it. He’s good with the players. He’s so natural. That’s the thing that impresses me.”

Asked what topics players broach with him, Goodell declined to get into specifics or rank what the most popular issues are. He did mention player health and safety and “the right kind of labor agreement.”

Goodell’s most forceful statements Wednesday came with regard to testing for HGH, which is banned by the league _ although players are not tested for it. He wants blood testing for that drug, something the players’ union long has opposed.

“It’s about making sure that we’re doing everything to protect our players and to protect the integrity of our game,” Goodell said.

“We think it’s important to have HGH testing, to make sure we ensure that we can take performance-enhancing substances out of the game. Unfortunately, the only way to test for that, on any reliable basis right now, is through blood testing,” he said. “And if your objective is to take it out of the game, that’s the only way to do it. … That’s why we proposed it.”

At his stops in Maryland and Virginia on Wednesday, Goodell spoke about Roethlisberger (“He is doing what he’s been asked to do _ and frankly more”), Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth (“Albert wants to play football and he wants to get out there and he needs to be able to do that, but he needs to get himself in proper shape to be able to do that”), and labor issues such as the possibility of a rookie wage scale (“The system is broken and we’ve got to fix it”).

Goodell said he’d like to do this sort of bus tour again. The Madden Cruiser certainly has its perks, including the granite kitchen counter crowded with cookies, chips and pretzels, fruit and other snacks, let alone what resides in the fully stocked refrigerator.

Then there’s respite from the heat. The temperature topped 90 Wednesday, but that was tough to tell thanks to the full-blast air conditioning monitored by a bus thermostat set to 60 degrees.

Goodell did have to make one concession to his host.

“Someone asked what I like to eat, and my assistant said I have a salad for lunch every day. So they got me a salad with salmon on it, which I have frequently, and (Madden) said, ‘We don’t normally have that on this bus. Needless to say, I did not eat it. We had some good turkey sandwiches.’”

Noted Madden: “Never in the history of the bus have we had a salad.”