The muckerism known as the Roger Goodell Era began in the National Football League when he barely won the job as commissioner by two votes in 2006. Though he tried to push this image of being a strict disciplinarian since then, but he has mostly shown to be a watered down version of his mentor and predecessor Paul Tagliabue.
Goodell began working with the NFL as an intern thanks to the fact his dad was a Senator in the same state that NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle lived in. When Tagliabue replaced a retired Rozelle in 1989, Goodell was taken under the wing of a former college basketball player who knew very little about the game of football.
His role increased as the rules began to heavily favor the offenses and the quarterback position especially. Goodell has even taken this many steps further to sickening proportions since 2006 to the point even touching a quarterback results in a penalty and fine.
The 2011 season has been his worse, yet it may be a blessing for the NFL. It is quite evident Goodell is the wrong man for the job more than ever and replacing him would benefit the league. The league has made mistakes here before, so admitting they made the wrong hire would be nothing new for the NFL.
Jim Thorpe was the first NFL Commissioner ever from 1920 to 1921. He was an obvious figurehead much like Goodell is. Thorpe was a Hall of Fame football player who won two Gold Medals in the 1921 Olympics, played Major League Baseball, and basically excelled in any athletic endeavor.
Carl Stork, a co-founder of the NFL, was commissioner for two years until stepping down due to illness. Austin Gunsel stepped in when Bert Bell died in 1959, but was replaced by Rozelle four months later. Elmer Layden, one of the famous “Four Horsemen” from Notre Dame University, held the job for five year before being replaced by Bell because owners thought him too much a gentleman and not forceful enough for the job.
While Goodell has tried to pretend his was forceful regime, it has been severely tainted with hypocrisy. He reduced a suspension of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger by two games this year, but then proceeded to tell people, right before the quarterback was to play Super Bowl XLV, that at least two dozen Steelers did not support Roethlisberger.
The reporter, Peter King, tried to back peddle soon after, but most likely because he was ordered to by Goodell. Still, the damage was done and the timing could not have been more inappropriate. The Super Bowl is the biggest game the league has, one where billions of dollars are involved and where more viewers from other parts of the world tune in.
Not only was the big game marred by Goodell’s boorish behavior, but perhaps the worst pre-game and halftime entertainment shows in Super Bowl history followed in a game where hundreds of fans were displaced because Goodell’s people did a poor job preparing Cowboys Stadium for the event. These fans are now suing the league.
These debacles took place on the eve of a players strike that is almost certainly going to occur. Players strikes are nothing new in the NFL, having occurred in 1968, 1970, 1982, and 1987. Yet each strike dealt with different issues.
When the players threatened a strike in 1968, the owners countered by declaring a lockout. Since players salaries were low in that era, which caused them to hold second hobs, this strike was brief. There was another brief strike during training camp in 1970.
The 1982 season holds some similarity to today. It was to be the first season where 16 regular season games were scheduled to be played. Goodell intends to extend seasons to 18 games starting next year. Just nine regular season games were played in 1982.
When the 1987 strike went down, players missed a month of the regular season but the games were still played. Owners hire replacement players, which was largely a group of players who had been cut in training camps. Many players, including Hall of Famers like Joe Montana, Steve Largent, and Randy White, crossed the picket lines to play.
This strike may be different because NFL players see how Major League Baseball players get paid. The NFL is the king of professional sports right now and players want a bigger piece of the pie. Considering an average career lasts less than two years, their request doesn’t seem ridiculous.
The players today are afforded luxuries like never before. Though the game still contains hard hitting at times, the rules today make it a much less violent game. Goodell is now saying the league cares about players suffering concussions, an issue they ignored since their beginnings.
Past players suffer today, ignored by their own brethren who are enjoying the path paved for them. Yet the players see how the legends are doing today and are trying to prevent repeating that in their own future. Goodell’s recent claims of caring are generally considered just lip service by most so he can resolve the impending strike sooner.
Besides continuing Tagliabue’s mission to pamper quarterbacks and offenses while castrating defenses, there are many other things about Goodell that anger players. Many feel he is out of touch, sitting in an ivory tower with a blind eye as his wallet fills up at a rapid pace.
Many players lately have been echoing the same sentiment in regards to their commissioner. They feel he has too much power and control over the game while maintaining a constant predilection of making wrong decisions ultimately. He once was referred to as an obtuse fascist who has ruined the integrity of the game in favor of money.
Though it is unknown if things would be much better or worse now if Goodell did not retain those two votes in 2006, the question if he is the right man for the job gets louder each day. Whether the owners are listening or even caring is the question.
Bell and Rozelle, generally considered the best commissioners in NFL history, never uttered such ramblings like Goodell has while holding the office over 30 years combined. Neither besmirched their players like Goodell has. Though it is doubtful a person as good as Bell or Rozelle is out there right now, it would behoove the NFL to try and find out while firing Goodell.
If the league stays complacent behind his questionable leadership, the United Football League could very well find success the the American Football League did in the 1960’s, forcing the NFL to allow all 10 of their teams to merge. Before that, the All-American Football Conference had the NFL take in three teams in 1950.
Though the game of football needs the upstart UFL, now entering their third season, to compete with the NFL to make their product better, the NFL learned 41 years ago from the AFL that it can take a long time to get back on top after being the only game in town several years. A game that has been eroding under the direction of Roger Goodell.