View Full Version : It's now or never for Roger Goodell

03-10-2011, 07:44 AM
It's now or never for Roger Goodell


If the NFL commissioner can't keep the league active, it might be time for him to go

(It's long past time for that Steeler hating, Pat sucking, walking pile of crap to go. If a lockout is the price to get rid of him it would be worth it. - mesa)

By Gene Wojciechowski

Roger Goodell has a decision to make this week. Does he want to be a $10 million mouthpiece for NFL owners, or a difference-maker who rescues his employers from themselves?

It's one or the other. Because when it comes down to it, Goodell has a single job as commissioner of the world's most profitable sports league: Make the NFL trains run on time. If he can't do that, then it's time to find another conductor.

That's right, Goodell should resign immediately if this owners-created labor dispute becomes a living, breathing lockout by the end of Friday's federally mediated negotiating deadline. Once the owners press the nuclear lockout button, then Goodell must go.

[+] EnlargeGoodell
Brendan Smialowski/Getty ImagesIf Goodell can't avoid a lockout, perhaps the league should look elsewhere for leadership.

Roger and out.

The NFL isn't broken. Or broke. It is a $9 billion industry that continues to grow as if it has an overactive pituitary gland. Other leagues put their heads on their pillows each night and dream of becoming the NFL.

Of course, Goodell and the owners want you to believe that the league's future is dangerously fragile, that a reconfigured collective bargaining agreement (conveniently reconfigured to the owners' specifications) is preventative medicine -- necessary and good for the health of the league. They can live with a lockout strategy because they're convinced it would be for the greater good of the league and its fans.

But what if they're wrong?

Goodell has been a master of repeating the company line even though the company line has more holes in it than a mesh game jersey. He and the owners have been banging that financial drum slowly and loudly since Goodell was elected commissioner on the fifth ballot in August 2006.

But forget about the company line for a moment. Here's the bottom line: The NFL generates more annual revenue than the NBA and NHL combined (with about $2 billion to spare). The NFL, which owns almost every meaningful record for most-watched television programming, can fall out of bed and get a 33 share. And according to Forbes magazine, each of the NFL's 32 franchises is listed among the world's 50 most valuable sports teams. Six of those franchises (the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets and Houston Texans) are ranked in the top 10.

[+] EnlargeGoodell
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesGoodell's powers of persuasion -- not only with the union but also with the owners -- are being put to the test this week.

Duh -- winning.

This is no mom-and-pop business, unless Pop is Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the business is worth $1.65 billion. And, as The Wall Street Journal noted several months ago, the least valuable NFL franchise (the Oakland Raiders) is worth more than the Chicago Cubs or the Los Angeles Lakers.

So you can see why the players' union is reluctant to take a salary haircut. And if you can't see why it's reluctant, then you've been listening to Goodell for too long.

The players didn't create this crisis; the owners did. They're the ones who signed off on the last CBA in 2006. (Goodell, by the way, played a role in those negotiations.) At the time, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney gushed to The Associated Press, "We've got the best labor deal in sports."

But now they want a mulligan?

Anyway, whose fault is it if a franchise drafts poorly, plans poorly and spends poorly? And since when is it the players' responsibility to help bail out the lower-revenue franchises by taking less of their previously negotiated slice of the pie?

The owners want to make more money. Can't blame them for that. But until the owners can actually prove there's an electrical fire in the league's revenue wiring, then you can't blame the players for squeezing their wallets shut.

Goodell says no new stadiums have been built since 2006 -- the message being that owners can't afford the cost of new construction. But 21 new stadium projects were initiated and/or completed during the 17-year reign of Goodell's predecessor, Paul Tagliabue. And, in the past two seasons, new stadiums worth nearly $3 billion combined -- Cowboys Stadium and New Meadowlands Stadium -- have become operational on Goodell's watch. So it's not as if the bulk of the league's teams are playing in football Fenways.

[+] Enlargetbd by editorial
AP Photo/Alex BrandonHe presides over the richest, most successful pro sports league in the country. Why isn't that enough for Goodell and the owners?

Something has to give, preferably the stubbornness of the owners. That's where Goodell comes in -- or should.

Goodell is the son of a politician, so he was raised on the importance of compromise and consensus building. One way or the other, he has to herd 32 very rich and very entrenched cats through these negotiations. He has to convince them (and perhaps himself) that a lockout would be the dumbest idea since showing up for a Wonderlic test without a No. 2 pencil.

This is when we learn whether Goodell is worth his nearly $10 million in annual salary. The last thing these negotiations need is an owners' lap dog who yaps at all the wrong times and for all the wrong reasons. We know Goodell can hand down discipline and fines, but can he lead? Can he solve? Can he make the NFL's 2011 regular season run on time?

Years from now, nobody will particularly care how Goodell dealt with Spygate, Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, helmet-to-helmet contact, Ines Sainz, Philadelphia snowstorms or Brett Favre. But everybody will remember whether he contributed to a lockout or prevented one.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter @GenoEspn.

Atlanta Dan
03-11-2011, 04:32 PM
i for one thought the owners always played Roadrunner to the NFLPA's Wiley Coyote, but it looks like Gene Upshaw ate the owners' lunch with the 2006 CBA they opted out of and now with decertification this mess is going to be litigated before the owners' nemesis Judge Doty.

Looks like good lawyering so far by the NFLPA and particularly dumb of the owners' attorneys to unsuccessfully try to get the 8th Circuit to throw Judge Doty off the case. If you take that sort of shot at a judge you better be certain not to miss

The owners can accept Goodell's PR botch of such matters as the fines for blows to the head last fall -messing with their money is an entirely different situation - I bet Goodell gets his walking papers within 18 months - let's see what kind of story Peter King writes about that after King wrote that valentine for Goodell that was published in SI during Super Bowl week

03-11-2011, 04:34 PM
they just said on cnn, that the union just walked out on talks

03-11-2011, 05:30 PM
Fire Goodell now!

03-11-2011, 09:22 PM
Goodell is leaving us the fans out to rot and dry!

03-12-2011, 11:22 AM
they just said on cnn, that the union just walked out on talks
I'm sure the union knows that any deal that involves a) getting rid of Doty and b) anything less than full financial disclosure from the owners and the league is not a deal at all.

Atlanta Dan
03-13-2011, 07:29 PM
Since now has passed I guess it is never for Goodell - this column ties together Goodell's arrogant treatment of the players in 2010 to his current problems

Blame for mess NFL finds itself in must start with Goodell

By Mike Freeman
CBSSports.com National Columnist
March 13, 2011

It was December, and the clock was still ticking. Yes, remember when there was still a labor clock? There was hope Laborgeddon could be avoided. Roger Goodell met with a small group of fans in Foxborough, Mass., and was asked if peace could be brokered.

"I think it's critically important to avoid" a work stoppage, Goodell said in remarks to the media after his talk with fans. "We need to have a system that works for everybody, but I think everybody would agree that what's most important is football, and that we should work very hard to avoid that."

When Goodell took over for Paul Tagliabue as commissioner in September of 2006, his sole job in many ways was to avoid the disastrous circumstances the league faces today. Obviously, he failed.

It's not a coincidence the NFL is experiencing its first work stoppage in nearly a quarter of a century during the Reign of Goodell.

Goodell is a good man with solid intentions. But his reputation for heavy-handedness with the players over the past few years -- the excessive punishments, the harsh suspensions -- led to a level of distrust that carried into negotiations, several players say.

The distrust in Goodell has been building for years -- not weeks -- and the failed talks were a symptom. As Goodell suspended players for entire seasons, union player reps watched. As Goodell sometimes displayed an attitude that he was a king and they were serfs, players watched. As Goodell and the owners asked for a cool $1 billion refund without giving a detailed explanation why a league swimming in an orgy of cash was suddenly broke, they watched some more. When Carolina owner Jerry Richardson was condescending in meetings with the players they ... watched.

After the bungled attempt to use television money as a lockout fund became public, anger and distrust, building for some time in the player ranks, mixed into a highly volatile brew, several players said in interviews with CBSSports.com over the past week. The distance between Goodell and some players may in fact now be impossible to close.

There was one example of that anger after mediation collapsed. In a news conference, league lawyer Jeff Pash stated a litany of things owners were said to have offered the players. One person close to the players association responded bluntly: "Pash lies and Goodell isn't doing [expletive] about it." A player added: "Pash is standing there saying things he knows aren't true, and Roger is right there, not stopping it."

"Jeff Pash lied," NFLPA lawyer Jim Quinn said. "Jeff Pash lied to the players, he lied to the fans."

Criticism of Goodell is mostly muted in the press, because unlike Tagliabue, the current commissioner has an extraordinarily friendly relationship with many in the football media. Agreed - Exhibit A was that Peter King puff piece in SI in January

In fairness to Goodell, it does take two to get a deal done. But Goodell and the owners clearly took the hard-ass route, and doing so with a bunch of athletes who compete for a living, failing to realize their testosterone levels would rise considerably, was a huge mistake.

This doesn't mean Goodell should have caved. It just means he took a different approach from Tagliabue, and it didn't work.

NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith is different from predecessor Gene Upshaw and Goodell is different from Tagliabue, so it's difficult to compare one set of leaders to another. Still, Tagliabue was adept at keeping the anger and distrust at minimal levels when dealing with the union. One former union rep compared Tagliabue to Bill Clinton (minus the bimbo eruptions) in that Tagliabue could get almost anyone to listen to his viewpoint.

The odd thing about Tagliabue's legacy (he should be in the Hall of Fame) is that the media portrayed him as a cold automaton. Privately, he was anything but. Tagliabue gained Upshaw's trust while Goodell never truly earned Smith's.

Tagliabue accomplished two things Goodell couldn't. First, Tagliabue didn't try to steamroll the players. Second, he kept the angry owners away from the process. Most of the meetings with Upshaw involved small groups of negotiating teams. There was more communication. There was also more give and take.

I'm absolutely convinced that if Tagliabue was commissioner, a deal would've been consummated. There's no question about it.

Now, everything moves to the court system. It should have never gone this far and hasn't for many years. But here we are. Here we go. There is plenty of blame, but Goodell's primary mission was to stop this.

And he failed. [/I]


True that

03-23-2011, 06:20 PM
Goodell failed. Plain and simple. He should be relieved of duty.

03-24-2011, 10:58 AM
Goodell has failed at almost everything he has done as commissioner. He is the worst commissioner in sports running the most popular sport in the country. He needs to go. From the rules changes, to the fines, he is ruining this sports single handley and the owners seem to keep following this schmuck with everything he says. GET RID OF HIM!!!!! I would be willing to not watch the NFL for a year if it meant him being gone...