I will not be saddened if Roger Goodell succumbs to the mob outrage currently directed at him, but it will be a case of the ends justifying the means. I actually am not sure the outrage is properly placed or the level is justified, but professional football will be better without Roger Goodell guiding the ship. My thoughts have often been condemned in recent years as NFL revenue has continued to climb, along with the overall popularity of the sport. Still, I can’t resist the slightly proud declaration that the current events were inevitable because of Roger Goodell’s obvious leadership flaws, and they will continue.
Goodell began his career with the National Football League as an intern in 1982 while Pete Rozelle was Commissioner. His career appears to resemble the traditional hard working climb up the corporate ladder, serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer under Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, then succeeding Tagliabue as NFL Commissioner in 2006. At the time, he appeared to be the most qualified man to continue the strong leadership that Rozelle and Tagliabue had provided. These assumptions were incorrect as a stronger argument can be made that the NFL has continued to succeed in spite of Goodell, not because of his leadership. He has shown poor judgment in changes made that effect the action on the field, as well as reactions to situations off the field. Often one area causes a response in the other in Goodell’s NFL.
The NFL Commissioner position is very similar to the CEO position of any large corporation, and success or failure is determined by a complicated formula of leadership, knowledge, support, courage, humility and many other human characteristics implemented as needed. Goodall last strapped and tightened a set of shoulder pads in preparation for competition as a youth, but neither Rozelle nor Tagliabue came from competitive athletic backgrounds and were successful NFL Commissioners. The difference was approach as Goodell has often taken the lead in changes to the game that takes place on the field, while his predecessors gave greater empowerment to the advice of those that had experience between the goal posts. These changes, often applauded by the general public, resemble the foreign policy opinions of your young nephew at Thanksgiving Dinner….the ones that ring a tone of “nuke all of them” or “we should never get involved”. In a vacuum, they may have an argument, but the real world is not a vacuum, neither is the athletic field of play. Goodell does not understand the speed of the game, which effects and complicates decisions made about how one must play the game. Zero tolerance rules for actions such as helmet to helmet contact will result in as many penalties from unintentional actions as intentional actions. Many times the unintentional is also the unpreventable as a defensive player has no control over the movements of an offensive player in the split second before contact. As expected, we get weekly inconsistent calls related to these changes. The argument from some critics of the changes is they were made with good intentions, but it is becoming clear that the combination of a superior being complex in combination with the act of chasing the love of the grievance industry are Goodell leadership flaws that have a negative impact on the game.
The NFL is, and likely always will be a prime target for segments of the grievance industry because of two reasons; the obvious being it’s unmatched popularity in America and the other being it is exclusive to masculine testosterone oozing males. For decades, the NFL has separated itself from other American Professional Sports in popularity, revenue, and influence. The success has recently collided with the “outrage terrorism” that takes place in the social media world of the internet. Groups such as the National Organization for Women (NOW), Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and any group that stares at the internet daily chasing hashtags praying for something to do their best “this is the big one” Fred Sanford impersonation every time there is an utterance of non-conformity to their liberal beliefs see the NFL as a bottomless pit for outrage fundraising and self-promotion. It would be easy to lay blame on these groups, but the problem has been Roger Goodell’s acknowledgement of their schemes. His constant chase to satisfy these groups indicates his lack of understanding these groups refuse to be satisfied, as their outrage is their method of relevance and fundraising. In short, satisfaction equals nonexistence to the grievance industry. At such time that their target jumps through one hoop, they have already began to develop the next. Goodell thought he could obtain their approval, but their approval was never available.
Groups such as NOW do not hide from the label of hypocrisy, but bathe in it to the point that it becomes silly to acknowledge. We did not see NOW protesting Floyd Mayweather’s recent fight even though he has been charged multiple times and spent time in prison for domestic violence, and is a larger public figure than any helmet wearing male. The reason is clear, Mayweather would not acknowledge these groups and their schemes would gain little momentum, but Goodell’s acknowledgement continues to be gasoline to these fires. It is too late for Goodell to turn back as momentum has forced advertisers to acknowledge these groups. It is likely these groups will control Goodell until he is removed. If Goodell would have suspended Ray Rice for a full year, I can agree there is a strong argument for the heavy punishment based on his actions. I have no argument about the severity of the action or the punishment, but only the faulty strategy of chasing the approval of hashtag terrorists. These groups seek weakness or methods to attack individuals and organizations through third parties for their economic gain. I am confident that the NFL and the teams donation activity over the next 12 months will point to the primary reason for the “national outrage”. So if Goodell must go because the fictitious narrative that the NFL does not take domestic violence serious or it is more severe problem in the NFL than the general population, then “yeah, ok, let’s go with that”.