NFL: Goodell Makes Money For Owners

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

THE GOOD

Even those now bashing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, often referred to as “the most powerful man in sports,”  must acknowledge he has helped NFL owners make more $$$ than they can count. That is why owners have been solidly in his corner when controversy has arisen. Don’t kid yourself, the NFL is a highly successful business and he is one reason why.

According to an August 20, 2014 article in Forbes Magazine “the average National Football League team is worth $1.43 billion… 23% more than a year ago, the biggest year-over-year increase since 1999.”  Fans can complain all they want about decisions the Commissioner has made, but he has done what he is paid to do.

For those wondering why Robert Kraft backed down on challenging Goodell’s ruling in “deflategate,” read that highlighted sentence again. Click on the link and see just how financially successful the NFL is. And, by the way, the New England Patriots, worth $2.6 billion, trail only the Dallas Cowboys in value ($3.2 billion).

When Goodell took over the reigns from retiring commissioner Paul Tagliabue on September 1, 2006 the league was on an upswing that started under Pete Rozelle (NFL Commissioner 1960-1989) and has now reached what a few think is it’s pinnacle. The owners are betting there is still has growth to be had (overseas teams?), and Goodell is who they want at the helm…provided the political pressure doesn’t become too intense.

No matter how many cases they lose in arbitration, it’s pennies compared to billions of dollars.  Reputation and integrity be damned, money speaks volumes, no matter how many times Goodell ludicrously claims he is making decisions based on the integrity of the game.

THE BAD

If one word could be used other than “profit” to describe Goodell’s term as commissioner, it would have to be “controversy.” From his start, NFL news has moved from primarily sports talk to the lead front page story. Without going into too many boring detail, here are just a few of the “bad” news stories that have come in the past 8 years:

2007: Goodell disciplined the New England Patriots ($250,000 & 1st Round Pick) and head coach Bill Belichick in what has become known as “Spygate” after New England attempted to videotape the defensive signals of the NY Jets

…and that wasn’t all that happened. Suspensions were handed out galore:

  • Tennessee’s PacMan Jones (entire 2007 season)
  • Cincinnatti’s Chris Henry (8 games)
  • Chicago’s Tank Johnson (8 games) were all suspended under the new NFL Player Conduct Policy. That policy became the guidelines for all future suspensions
  • Atlanta starting QB Michael Vick was convicted and served jail time – Need I say more?

2008: Dallas’ PacMan Jones again (indefinite, ultimately reduced to 4 games)

2009: Cleveland’s Donte Stallworth (entire 2009 season)

2010: Pittsburgh QB Ben Rothlisburger (originally 6 games, reduced to 4) Rothlisburger was accused of sexual assault by a 20-year-old college student after an encounter in a Georgia bar

Ben Rothlisburger Suspended courtesy of  ESPN.GO.Com
Ben Rothlisburger Suspended courtesy of ESPN.GO.Com

2011: NFL Lockout March 11 to August 5

THE UGLY

Things started to really get ugly as the 2012 season rolled around.

2012: “Bountygate” – New Orleans Saints – Head Coach Sean Payton and Defensive Coordinator Greg Williams were suspended for the season. Along with other suspensions the Saints were fined a league maximum $500,000 and stripped of their second round draft picks in 2012 and 2013. Commissioner Goodell later suspended players but that was overturned after they appealed.

Also in 2012 the NFL locked out the regular NFL game officials, opening the season with replacement referees. The hired replacements consisted of low-level college and high school officials, none from Division I. The only people yelling about the integrity of the game were fans who paid full price to see incompetent officials drastically effect the outcome of game-after-game.

It's A TD, no It's an INT as replacement offials contradict each other (Courtesy of DallasNews.com
Its A TD, no its an INT as replacement officials contradict each other (Courtesy of DallasNews.com)

After week 2 of the season the NFLPA issued this statement:

It is lost on us as to how you allow a Commissioner to cavalierly issue suspensions and fines in the name of player health and safety yet permit the wholesale removal of the officials that you trained and entrusted to maintain that very health and safety. It has been reported that the two sides are apart by approximately $60,000 per team. We note that your Commissioner has fined an individual player as much in the name of “safety.” Your actions are looking more and more like simple greed. As players, we see this game as more than the “product” you reference at times. You cannot simply switch to a group of cheaper officials and fulfill your legal, moral, and duty obligations to us and our fans. You need to end the lockout and bring back the officials immediately.

On September 26 an agreement was reached to end the lockout after increasing criticism of the NFL and the performance of the replacement officials.

2013: The NFL finally reached a $765 million settlement with  former NFL players over head injuries. The settlement created a $675 million compensation fund from which former NFL players could collect from depending on the extent of their conditions. It turned ugly when, in January, 2014, a U.S. District Judge refused to accept the agreed settlement because “the money wouldn’t adequately compensate the nearly 20,000 men not named in the suit

2014: The Ray Rice disaster. Another major mis-judgement by the Commission as he determined a punishment of two games was adequate for the third-degree assault Rice had been arrested for. After an uproar and the public saw a video of the incident, Goodell acknowledged he “didn’t get it right” This was the start of individuals questioning his judgement and rumblings began calling for his resignation.

2015: “Deflategate,” which is still under appeal by New England QB Tom Brady, became another national story. Brady was handed a four game suspension because of a “belief that he was generally aware” of the deflation of footballs used in the AFC East Championship game.

The Commissioner once again looked bad as his 10 game suspension of Greg Hardy was recently reduced in arbitration. Arbitrator Harold Henderson stated in his decision that 10 games is simply too much as he reduced the punishment to four games. To read his entire comments just click on the highlighted area.

To wrap it up, the NFL and Commissioner Goodell have not been successful either in arbitration or the courts. They have lost to all the New Orleans players in ‘Bountygate,” Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy and the list goes on and on. Next up will be his decision of Tom Brady.

Training camp is just around the corner and teams/players need some closure. At what point will the owners say enough is enough? As long as the $$$ continues to grow, it is unlikely to happen very soon.

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

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