NFL Implosion – Despite awful performance, Roger Goodell’s job is safe

by Kent Sterling

Yesterday was a sad day for the NFL, but sadder days are ahead.  We just won't find it as easy to blame Roger Goodell for them.

Yesterday was a sad day for the NFL, but sadder days are ahead. We just won’t find it as easy to blame Roger Goodell for them.

Only one thing could cause significant erosion of support among NFL owners for Roger Goodell to remain in his role as commissioner of the NFL, and that is an attack on their wallets.

Goodell could have twerked and farted at the podium during yesterday’s ineffective press conference, and still the owners would praise their fair-haired boy because Goodell is taking all the slings and arrows from the players, media, and public that would otherwise be headed toward them.

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That was the point of the player conduct policy enacted in 2007 – take the discipline out of the purview of the teams and owners.  Let Goodell take the heat.

The only thing a billionaire (and all 32 of the NFL franchise owners are billionaires) avoids with more passion than being the bad guy is becoming a lowly millionaire.  They hire bad guys – hatchet men – to handle the unpleasant stuff.

For those who watch the excellent “Ray Donovan” on Showtime, Ezra pays Ray really well to handle the unsavory aspects of his business.  While Goodell doesn’t run around beating the hell out of people like Donovan does, he does handle all of the ugly stuff that owners loathe.

Why Goodell thought a press conference was necessary is an interesting question given that he only dug himself deeper with platitudes and hollow apologies – maybe the only good question that wasn’t asked by the journalists who held Goodell accountable for his absurd self-absolution.  He did and said nothing yesterday that would prompt a reasonable person to trust him or the cash cow league.

I’m certain Goodell’s statement was vetted, and maybe even written, by multiple lapdogs in the NFL offices, but no one had the stones to tell him that admitting culpability without accepting a penalty would immediately by assessed by those with a functioning brain as hypocritical.

The guy who takes such glee in suspending and fining players is now viewed as someone unwilling to hold himself accountable, and while that is an untenable longterm position, it seemingly has had no effect on the gate or ratings, and only Proctor & Gamble and Radisson have adjusted their sponsorship spending.

Unless that small trickle of corporate dissatisfaction becomes a torrent, Goodell will be the commissioner as long as he likes.

Judging from yesterday’s announcement that “nothing is off the table” as far as discipline and the methodology that will determine severity, it’s safe to assume that Goodell will champion the creation of a panel or board who will be trusted to evaluate indiscretions and issue penalties.  That’s called taking a page out of the playbook of the NFL owners, corporate America, and the federal government.

Creating layers between those in charge and those who accomplish through work instead of meeting insulates the powerful. The next time the NFL has a crisis similar to that caused by Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Ray McDonald, Greg Hardy, and Jonathan Dwyer, Goodell will have the cover provided by a group employed to keep him out of harm’s way.

He will be the guy pointing, instead of being pointed at.

Of course, that’s pathetic and weak, but when was the last time you saw strong leadership from a CEO, commissioner, or president?  The phrase that pays in today’s America is “The buck stops there!”  Even that isn’t true.  The buck doesn’t know where the hell to stop because the infrastructure is purposely created and implemented to keep anyone from owning blame.

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If there is anything to be admired about Goodell, it’s that he has resisted the temptation to bullet proof his office with the careers of underlings employed only to confuse those trying to get to the truth and hold those who do wrong accountable for their misdeeds.

Those days are quickly coming to an end.  What will remain after the NFL’s infrastructure is renovated, will be a confusing maze of men and women with fancy titles looking busy but doing little.

Goodell’s ineffective leadership will continue, but the days of people believing he’s the problem are going to come to an end, and that itself will become the bigger problem.

2 thoughts on “NFL Implosion – Despite awful performance, Roger Goodell’s job is safe

  1. CWL

    The NFL players in the article below are still playing (except Greg Hardy) even after being arrested for domestic violence… What does this say to our youth?… What does it say about American morals?

    It is time to tell the nfl that placing greed before the welfare of women and children will not be tolerated in our society (nor will covering up such dispicable acts) … Boycott the nfl and all corporations that advertise during nfl games… Do it for your wives… do it for your children… do it for the morality of America.

    The NFL is a disgrace to America and the human race… A money hungry morally corrupt monopoly played by millionaire wife/ child / animal abusers, rapist, steroid users, murderers and pretty boys who have hung up their jock straps for dresses while trying not to damage their peticures.The NFL (National Felons League) is damaging to the reputation of America and a shameful role model for our youth. It is time for a new football league to emerge so that we can end this morally corrupt experiment called the NFL.

  2. Jeff Gregory

    Perhaps this is the venue to have a reasonable discussion. It seems that every time a celebrity/athlete/politician, etc., does something most of us think is horrible, we all lose our minds.

    I recently read the NFL conduct policy. It is pretty vague. It does talk about the severity of offense, “The specifics of the disciplinary response will be based on the nature of the
    incident, the actual or threatened risk to the participant and others, any prior or additional misconduct (whether or not criminal charges were filed), and other relevant factors,” however, it is STILL pretty vague.

    Compared to shooting a firearm in a public venue, for example, how does Adrian Peterson’s and Ray Rice’s offense rank? It depends on who you to talk to.

    Ultimately, it is all about money. If people are so offended that they don’t buy tickets or watch the games, then something substantial will be done. Otherwise, . . . This is the result of a true capitalistic society that a vast majority of the country tend to believe we are commanded to have by God. So, I say, you can’t have it both ways. Do you want the market to decide, or do you want to have a society based on a moral hierarchy? And I am not saying there is an obvious right answer here.

    A vast majority of Americans are concerned about this NFL fiasco, but much less than half want Goodell to resign.

    The only thing the NFL can do from this point on is rewrite the code of conduct and list offenses like a statute book and then follow the policy to the letter. But, that might be just too hard.


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