Hey guys! Did you wake up today thinking “Hey, I sure do love the National Football League, but you know what I need more of? EXCLUSIVE Bleacher Report pieces talking about that charming, strict-but-fair commissioner Roger Goodell!”? No? None of you woke up thinking that? Can you ask around? I’m sure there’s an audience for that somewhere, right? Right?
Mike Freeman’s article is reproduced below, along with some helpful and illuminating annotations courtesy of us here at KSK. Come join us, won’t you?
Did Roger Goodell, when he took the job in 2006, envision all of…this? The controversies? The ugliness? The misreads? The good reads? The bad decisions? The smart ones? Did he envision it all?
StuScottBooyahs: And mighty was his laugh. I could feel the plate tectonics shift beneath my feet. Thunder rolled through the clouds above me, and lightning lit up the night sky all around us.
“No. I have to admit, I couldn’t have imagined some of the things that have happened over the nine seasons,” Goodell said in an interview with Bleacher Report. “I don’t know if there was anyone who had a better insight having been in the league for over 25 years.
“But you never know until you’re in that seat, you have that responsibility and you feel that responsibility to everyone. It’s challenging, it’s exciting,
Ape: “It’s arousing. I’m rock hard right now. Totally horned up with responsibility.”
it’s an opportunity to really have an impact on something that we know so many millions of fans care about. And we have that opportunity, and that’s the inspiration for all of us.”
As popular as the league was when Goodell first became a part of it decades ago, and as popular as it had become a decade ago when he was named commissioner, it’s gotten even more so. Insanely so. People care so much about the NFL that the bar has been raised to an almost unrealistic place, where athletes are asked to be moral examples—and Goodell to be flawless.
“But we like that and we embrace that,” Goodell said. “That’s an opportunity. I’d rather have it that way than they don’t expect a lot from you or they have lower standards for our organization. I think we’ve helped establish that and we have to meet that. That’s a good thing to me.”
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: In case you missed what just happened there, this is Goodell trying to reframe his original two-game suspension of Ray Rice for violently beating his fiancee in an elevator as a learning experience. As an opportunity for him to grow. Fuck you.
I asked Goodell if he’s ever seen a time when fans cared more about the NFL than they do now. He answered the question knowing what I meant to ask which was: Has he ever seen the NFL held to a higher standard than now?
Ape: “The Rog disregarded my inane softball question and answered an entirely different, better softball question. I thanked him, then asked to visit his School for Gifted Youngsters, as he is clearly Professor Charles Xavier.”
“No, I haven’t,” he said. “But that is what I meant when I said people hold the NFL to a higher standard. Yes, maybe that has a negative when you don’t hit that bar. But we embrace that. We don’t want to have it any other way. People expect a lot from us, and we have to deliver on it. That drives us. That inspires us. That is why we continuously look to see how we can improve the experience for our fans and improve the game for our players and coaches. And do everything we can to get better.”
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: I kind of want to show this article to Keith Olbermann. I think he’d have an actual brain aneurysm.
If you are expecting to read a column bashing Roger Goodell, well, these aren’t the droids you’re looking for. There are plenty of those rip jobs out there.
StuScottBooyahs: “So many sites take the lazy route of not licking his boots. NOT US THOUGH.”
Use the Google machine to find them.
StuScotttBooyahs: Google machine? Are you 96 years old?
Dave Rappoccio: Then log onto Netscape and post the link on Myspace.
This is about nuance. I guess I’m supposed to hate Goodell, but I don’t. One thing that has always been amazing to me is how some blame Goodell more than they do the players who actually committed the crimes. Goodell didn’t beat his kid. Adrian Peterson did. Goodell didn’t knock his fiancee out in an elevator. Ray Rice did.
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: TIL “nuance” means ignoring everything bad Roger Goodell did.
Dave Rappoccio: This paragraph seems to suggest people are incapable of hating both Rice and Goodell at the same time because there can be only one that earns your ire.
(And by the way, someone lay out for me exactly what the union has done to combat domestic violence in football other than blame Goodell. I’ll be over here waiting. Mmkay thanks.)
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: Oh FUCK YOU.
StuScottBooyahs: Mmkay yeah and unions are bad. Mmkay. And performance-enhancing drugs are bad too, mmkay. And if you violate the NFL’s conduct rules, then, then you’re bad, mmkay.
Goodell isn’t evil. Goodell isn’t an angel. He’s a commissioner. And despite his portrayal at times as a comic book villain,
Ape: And that portrayal is wrong. Comic book villains have personalities.
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: For all of his faults, I do at least appreciate that the author of this piece gave me the perfect excuse to link to that one time Roger Goodell was ACTUALLY a comic book villain.
there remains his most important quality: his resilience.
Dave Rappoccio: You know what else is resilient? A cockroach.
Let’s be clear: Goodell’s handling of the Rice situation was a case of epic fail. When it comes to the Mt. Rushmore of epic fail, Goodell-Rice is up there along with New Coke and Jar Jar Binks.
Dave Rappoccio: This writer just unironically used the term “Epic Fail” in the year of our lord 2014.
Ape: That’s Freeman’s second Star Wars reference of the piece, by the way. Should we retitle this article “The Shield Awakens”?
It should also be noted that the “Mt. Rushmore of epic fail” belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of Mt. Rushmores that make you want to kill yourself.
But as Goodell puts the year from hell behind him, I also see a new Goodell. I see a man who has changed for the better. This is where the resilient Goodell comes in. As the new year begins, I think we will see a comeback Goodell.
StuScottBooyahs: Yahoo Sports is only projecting 436 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns for Goodell in 2015.
Now, from everything I hear, Goodell will get dinged in the upcoming report from former FBI head Robert Mueller. The report will be critical but not fatal. My guess is it will be released sometime soon after the New Year.
Ape: “2015 is going to be great for Goodell. Oh, except for the damning report about his behavior that will be released a few days after the year begins. After that, smooth sailing.”
When you look at Goodell’s track record, the totality of it is actually far more…nuanced.
Ape: The ellipsis is there to tell you Freeman had to think for a second over which horseshit euphemism to use.
There’s that word again. There are people who would even say positive. I’m one of them. Oh no. Forgot. Can’t say anything nice about the man.
Ape: “In your face, compliment police!”
Yet some of the accomplishments under Goodell, even hardcore NFL followers like myself have forgotten or overlooked.
Via the NFL:
• The personal conduct policy has been revised and improved.
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: Of course the NFL considers an improvement a new personal conduct policy that they wrote themselves without any input from the players union and only serves to consolidate the power of the owners and the commissioner. Just like E.T. was improved by replacing the guns with walkie talkies.
• Television viewership continues to grow. No, this isn’t directly because of Goodell. This is due to the very nature of what’s happening in the sport now. But if ratings were dropping significantly, Goodell would be blamed.
Dave Rappoccio: Is this whole article going to be “Thing Roger Goodell didn’t really do but deserves credit for not screwing up”?
• The DirecTV Sunday Ticket contract was extended in September, and Thursday Night Football on CBS—even with the crappy games—checks in as one of the 10 highest-rated shows on television. No Goodell credit, but again, if ratings fell, he’d be faulted.
Ape: No one died on the field either. What does that have to do with anything? Surely we need to fete the commissioner for every tragedy that might have happened but lucky for him didn’t.
• There are no local TV blackouts for the first time ever.
Ape: Possibly because the FCC, not Goodell, eliminated them earlier this year.
• NFL Now was launched as part of growth in the NFL digital media properties.
Ape: The league launched a shitty app that never works!
• There were three games in London for the first time ever. All were sold out. Again, not directly tied to Goodell actions, but if they were a flop, people like myself would be critical of him.
• Officiating has improved (13 new zebras, wireless communication, replay control in New York).
Dave Rappoccio: Bullshit.
Ape: Tell that to Nick Moody.
• The technology is advancing, with tablets for coaches, better headsets and testing of NextGen stats.
• The pace of games has improved, and the average time of games is down.
Ape: It’s only their quality that has diminished. These shitty, penalty filled games are over so fast!
• The Buffalo Bills organization has been stabilized with the sale of the team to the Pegula family.
Ape: Goodell is being praised for the death of Ralph Wilson? In fairness, it was a nuanced death.
• Over a billion dollars has been spent in stadium improvements and new stadium construction.
Dave Rappoccio: Pretty easy when you fleece the local economies by using LA as a bargaining chip to get people to pay up even when the owners have more than enough capital to do it themselves.
• The league has adopted HGH testing, along with other improvements to both drug programs.
StuScottBooyahs: What a bold, bold stance taken only by every sports league on the planet.
• The draft will be held in Chicago in 2015 (one of the best moves the NFL has made recently).
Dave Rappoccio: Goodell just thinks Midwesterners will boo him less.
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: Yeah, no, Chicago hates Goodell too.
• The playoff ticket policy has improved, so fans pay as you play.
Ape: Season-ticket holders no longer have to wait for refund checks! We take it all back! We’re living in a dream world!
• The game is slightly cleaner, as unnecessary roughness penalties, hits to defenseless players and possibly even concussions are down.
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: Roger Goodell’s epitaph: “Possibly Even Concussions Are Down”.
• There’s momentum in Los Angeles, with an eye toward 2016.
StuScottBooyahs: Here’s what it looks like.
The NFL also diversified its upper echelons with powerful women.
Ape: Because the NFL had to after the league helped protect an abuser and the nation saw that barely any women work in the NFL brass.
Dawn Hudson was brought in as head of marketing, and Cynthia Hogan as head of its government affairs department. And Lisa Friel was hired as outside advisor on domestic violence issues. I also believe Troy Vincent was one of the best hires of the Goodell era.
Dave Rappoccio: “The NFL finally did something not stupid and hired women, but really, the best hire Goodell has made is still a man.”
This will also sound absolutely crazy to say, but according to Pro Football Talk, which tracks player arrests, we are now over 40 days since a player was arrested. That’s the first time since PFT started tracking arrests in 2007 that it’s hit 40 days. (Now watch a player go and get arrested in three, two, one…).
Ape: I honestly had to ask PFT Commenter if he ghost wrote this piece after that line.
My belief is that the league’s tougher policies—along with the public humiliation that correlates with the increased media attention after a player arrest—is having an effect. At least, for now. Some of that credit goes to Goodell.
I asked Goodell what would be his biggest takeaway from this past year.
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: 44 million fucking dollars?
Dave Rappoccio: Beep Boop Goodell Bot initiate carefully crafted PR response…now.
“It’s a learning year,” he said.
Ape: You always want those to come eight years after taking a job.
“We stress that in our organization all the time, about learning and getting better. That’s a focus that we always have. As I look back at this year, I continue to see the game get better, get stronger, get safer. We’re protecting our players from unnecessary injuries. We like the way we’re integrating technology into the game. We saw it with instant replay this year, and we saw it with tablets on the sidelines, and I think that will continue to accelerate and bring technology into the game and innovate further.
“I think the way we engage our fans and the passion of our fans. Every one of our metrics is up again this year as far as fan engagement is concerned. More and more people are watching, whether it’s on television or on alternative devices and platforms. And we’re delivering on that experience. The last thing I would focus on is our organization and how we take that opportunity to learn and get better. While we’ve had challenges, we’ve learned from them and we are a better organization for it.”
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: Again, this is Goodell reframing the murders, suicides, beatings, assaults, concussions, injuries and other horrific things that have occurred in the NFL during his tenure as commissioner as “challenges”. I can’t even make a joke here. Rovell would be proud. Goodell is pretty much saying here that everyone– the players, the families of the players, everyone related to the NFL in any way should be viewed only in relationship with how they affect the league. It’s legitimately sickening.
Was there something from the year Goodell wishes he did better?
“Sure. You always do that,” he said.
Ape: “I only lied to one former federal judge! I promise more in 2015.”
“I look back and I wish I did everything better. That’s how we operate. I can’t isolate it to one thing. Some of the things that we always have taken great pride in is having the right people at the table, having the right voices, having the expertise, having the kinds of discussions that are necessary to make sure we’re staying ahead of the curve and we’re looking to see what the next issues addressing us. Whether it’s innovation, whether it’s policies, whether it’s technology, whether it’s the game and how we deal with it, how we deal with the medical side of the game.
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: “I wish I did everything better, but hey, remember all those discussions we had? We sure did talk a lot this year.”
“We think we are making enormous progress on all of those fronts, but you can’t let down on any particular area. I wouldn’t call it learning, but it’s something we’ve talked an awful lot about. The general public expects a lot from the NFL, and we have to deliver on that. We have embraced that. We don’t run from that. We embrace it. And we have to deliver on that. When we fall short, we acknowledge it and we go and try to do better.”
The one thing Goodell has to do now: communicate better with the union. Repair that relationship.
Ape: Nothing does that like ignoring their input on the new conduct policy.
Before you say it, no, I’m not a Goodell lackey.
Ape: Perish the thought.
I don’t rely on the NFL for access
Ape: Except for right now.
or scoops as I’m more of an opinion writer and this is my damn opinion: It’s time to calm down on the Goodell-as-Caesar stuff.
Ape: That’s fair. Goodell being Caesar means Peter King stabs him in the back and we simply aren’t that lucky.
Just see Goodell as what he is: a man who made mistakes, corrected them and learned from them.
Dave Rappoccio: If the entire sports world hadn’t come down on him for his terrible mistakes with Rice he wouldn’t have learned jack and we’d have the same policies. Lets not pretend he changed anything because he made a mistake, he changed things because he got called out for months. Then messed it up again by punishing Rice twice for the same transgression. But maybe he’ll lear…oh wait he did it with Peterson too.
A man that is like his league:
RobotsFightingDinosaurs: Flawed in many ways that are uncomfortable to talk about because it messes with your ability to enjoy a game you love?