Baseball’s Bud Selig is infamous for looking the other way while steroid use was at an all time high in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and most recently has come under scrutiny for how he’s expanded baseball’s playoff system.
David Stern of the NBA has never been a popular figure, and just a year ago was one of the major reasons that NBA fans lost a quarter of the season to a lockout.
Gary Bettman took an entire hockey season away from fans during the 2004-05 season, and is on the verge of ruining another while attempting to make his owner’s pocketbooks a little fatter.
But the sins of these three men absolutely pale in comparison to the entity of evil that is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Since he came into power in 2006, Goodell has slowly been diluting the quality of the NFL by putting his own goals and interests in front of the game in the interest of making the league as profitable as possible. When addressing the public, he typically attempts to disguise his motives by trying to assure the fans that he’s listening to what they say and working in their best interests. But over the years, the commissioner has made a number of decisions that reveals that despite all of the nonsense he says, he doesn’t care about the integrity of the game or the fans, and has become drunk with power.
Let’s begin with today’s major issue, the replacement officials. The replacements have been doing their best to officiate the games competently, but they just aren’t qualified to do the job. There have been a great number of mistakes in every game. Games are taking 20-30 minutes longer to complete because of a greater number of penalties and extended discussions amongst the officials. These refs have little control over the players, and fights have broken out so frequently this season its as though we’ve been watching an NHL game. Worst of all, teams like the Seattle Seahawks are losing games because of the officials’ incompetence. And through it all, we have Roger Goodell, a man who claims to put the integrity of the game first, stubbornly sitting on his hands allowing these tragedies to occur. He has allowed his own pride and power to prevent productive negotiations to take place with real officials, and even now refuses to make an aggressive move to get refs back in the game. I applaud the regular officials for taking the stand that they are, and not allow themselves to be bullied by the greedy commissioner.
It’s all about the money with Goodell. Of course, the NFL is a business, but the commissioner’s primary duty should be to put the good of the game first, and profits second. Instead, this commissioner is always on the lookout for any way to suck up all the money he can. For example, since 2007 he’s been trying very hard to get the NFL to expand outside of America by sending teams overseas to play regular season games in London. I’ve always had all kinds of problems with this. It costs one team a home game every year, and also takes revenue away from an American city. There’s even been talk of a Super Bowl played in London, or even a franchise being relocated overseas.
Goodell has also been trying to force the idea of an 18-game schedule on to the league and its fans for years. He’s sneakily tried to claim that he’s listening to the fans’ complaints about the quality of the preseason, and wants to rectify the problem by cutting the preseason in half and adding two games to the regular season. Of course, the idea of not charging season ticket holders for preseason games was laughable and never considered by this commissioner. Any sane NFL fan knows how much of a grind a 16-game schedule is on a player, and to add two additional games would greatly diminish the quality of play later in the year. The only thing that stopped this travesty from taking place was strong, justified opposition from the players’ union.
Goodell has also handled situations like Spygate poorly. In 2007, New York Jets coach Eric Mangini created problems for the league by revealing that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots had been cheating for years by videotaping opposing teams’ defensive signals. Goodell’s response to this crisis was to keep the NFL shield as untarnished as possible, and tried to do this by quietly sweeping this major scandal under the rug and preventing the public from learning the full extent of the cheating. While Goodell took away a first-round pick from the Patriots and issued fines to key figures involved, he also was quick to confiscate and destroy all of the evidence of Belichick’s treachery, forcing the public to believe his version of the story that New England gained very little from their spy tactics. If that was really the case, why was it necessary to destroy all records of the incident?
In my eyes, Roger Goodell has been a cancer to the game of football ever since he seized power in 2006. This NFL may be in a Golden Age in terms of profits, but the Golden Age of integrity was lost when the last great commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, retired. The horrible incident that took a win away from the Green Bay Packers on Monday night was a painful confirmation about just how far the quality and integrity of the NFL has slipped since the corrupt Goodell took over. I haven’t at all been pleased with the direction that the league has been going in for the last six years, and I hate to think of what else is still to come, as Goodell sadly won’t be leaving office anytime soon.