There are four major American professional sports organizations in the United States and for a long time, the guy running the one on ice was thought to be the worst of them all. Gary Bettman couldn’t get out of his own way on any number of issues but suddenly he’s no longer the worst commissioner in sports. That title now belongs to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
During Goodell’s reign of terror, the one miracle elixir he’s always possessed was that he was making boatloads of money for the owners. As long as that money kept rolling in then it really didn’t matter what else went wrong. Player discipline problems? Who cares? On-field celebrations? So what? Marijuana use by players? Big deal!
But now television ratings are down. And the owners have taken notice. Suddenly, Roger Goodell’s magic potion isn’t quite so magic now is it?
Between the protests by Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players during the national anthem and the crackdown on “fun,” Goodell is under unprecedented fire. Yet where is the leader of the country’s most popular pastime? He’s on a milk carton that’s where. He is missing and he is unlikely to come out and speak about the biggest topic in the NFL today which is the domestic violence issues with Josh Brown of the New York Giants.
You may or may not like the NBA, but Commissioner Adam Silver does not hide when times are tough. He is proactive rather than reactive. He embraces the diversity of his league and reaches out to the players rather than do everything in his power to alienate them. Roger Goodell should take note but he won’t because his arrogance won’t let him.
He and his office have mishandled one issue after another. He botched Spygate and Bountygate. He has leveled arbitrary discipline against one player after another without ever having to answer for his mistakes and poor choices. He also screwed up the Ray Rice domestic violence situation and that is very likely now going to come back to the front burner of Goodell’s very hot stove.
The reports about Josh Brown’s violence against his wife are alarming. This was not an isolated incident but many incidents over an extended period of time. So bad were things that Brown’s wife needed a separate hotel room when they were at the Pro Bowl. The New York Giants have, somewhat, admitted that they screwed this up but where’s Roger?
Where Roger should be is at a podium right now announcing his resignation. The one saving grace for him has always been the popularity of the league and the revenue it has brought. But now there are cracks in the foundation. ESPN’s Samantha Ponder tweeted this and it speaks volumes!
I don't speak 4 all women, but I'd much rather support a league w/zero tolerance for DV than 1 that sells me pink gear & sparkly clothes
— Sam Ponder (@sam_ponder) October 20, 2016
Women have been wide awake about the NFL’s problems but now they are speaking out. More voices like this are needed to pressure Goodell to resign and get out of the league he’s driven such a wedge into.
Viewership is down for reasons I mentioned above but if I hear anything most often about why people aren’t watching anymore it’s two things. One, the league isn’t fun anymore. Players who express themselves are flagged and fined. Secondly, the officials have taken over way too many games with inconsistency and a lack of attention to players like Vontaze Burfict who shouldn’t even be playing this week after his actions in New England last Sunday.
I may be wrong about Goodell’s immediate future and it wouldn’t be the first time, but if ever the NFL needed change at the top it is now. His actions or lack thereof have harmed the league significantly and it’s time to go.