It would be incredibly easy to knee jerk and anoint Roger Goodell as just another greedy corporate coward, hiding behind the shield of a billion dollar American conglomerate to avoid responsibility for certainly ethical, and possibly criminal, acts of arrogance. After all, silence does indeed speak volumes. When it comes to his appalling lack of reaction and that of the NFL in wake of the NFC Championship game train wreck, Goodell and his enablers are daily authoring tomes of Biblical proportions.
It’s all especially interesting when you consider that completely by accident, another billionaire took a cue from Goodell and manifested his own “let them eat cake” moment when talking down to the huddled masses seeking to merely feed themselves. Then again, no one ever accused current US Commerce Secretary and Marie Antoinette stand-in Wilbur Ross as someone who would even understand how people trying to work a daily job and feed their families manage to eke out a meager living.
But let us not digress or easily stray into similarities.
Nary a word from Goodell, the massive NFL publicity machine, or any of his overlord bosses all with their hands in the financial cookie jar about what, with closer scrutiny, does indeed smack of something more than just a missed call between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints. Well, there most certainly was a rather swift and stern reaction from Saints owner Gayle Benson in wake of the daylight heist. But let’s be brutally honest here. The good old, and I do mean old, power boys with one of those NFL golden “money printing” tickets are all enjoying more than a few good laughs as a woman whines about mistreatment. NFL ownership has always been about perceived size, and I don’t mean inseam on their custom made suits.
Having been there and heard the chuckling admonitions before in person, let me assure you most of them would rather Gayle Benson go back to making beignets and coffee for the “men in charge”.
Let’s get back to Rodger the Dodger.
Sure, it’s easy to hammer away at him for being an ineffective and somewhat spineless Commissioner of an American professional sports league. Goodell’s actions in allegedly helping to cover up the infamous “Spygate” investigation of the New England Patriots are the stuff of excellent espionage and intrigue, and he’s been instrumental in being just the latest authoritarian figure to whitewash decades of damage done to NFL players in the hiding and ignoring of numerous detailed concussion reports. His hands are filthy, as are so many others working for and with the NFL, in seeking to protect the “integrity of the game”, while doing little more than burying said integrity deep beneath the turf of modern billion dollar stadiums.
However, the fault and bullseye target here isn’t Goodell. In the end, he’s merely a well orchestrated hand puppet with a set of vary particular hands working his hands and mouth.
Roger the Dodger may be Commissioner, but from an NFL standpoint, that’s an honorary title at best. He’s merely the front man, bought and paid for by his superiors and in their thrall at all times. NFL owners pay his handsome checks, and in the end, it is his job to protect them at any and all costs. Without seeking to insult Goodell and merely put matters in simple terms, he is the mouthpiece. Nothing more.
In a position where one would think leadership and integrity counts for more than anything, Goodell possesses neither trait for one simple reason.
It’s not what he’s being paid to do.
It should indeed be a little more than just interesting that the “non-call” went in favor of the LA Rams. This is, after all, a franchise bought and paid for by the NFL. Despite the fact there had been truly little outcry for a franchise in the nation’s second largest media market, the NFL flexed those considerable muscles and rammed home a new stadium with the help of Rams billionaire owner Stan Kroenke. In doing so, the NFL went into cahoots with another multi-billionaire, Chargers owner Dean Spanos, and effectively used the new LA stadium as blackmail leverage against the city of San Diego, who refused to pony up taxpayer dollars for a new stadium. Despite the fact Spanos could easily afford to finance construction on his own, he and the NFL chose to make the Chargers second class tenants in Inglewood in order to properly gouge the market for as much as they could.
Of course, the NFL via Goodell, went public stating how they would prefer the Chargers remain in San Diego and serve those wonderful and beleaguered fans. All of which was sauce for the goose. Spanos is a deep pocketed owner. He and his cronies are in charge, and the “League” would do as they are told. Make a statement to keep the masses believing you’re in there fighting for them, then turn around and cash the checks.
That means you, Roger.
The Hollywood Park project is interesting in that Kroenke and his own mouthpieces have ballyhooed that there will be no taxpayer money involved in construction and maintenance of this stadium, which isn’t quite factual. Taxpayers in SoCal are still on the hook for a nice chunk of cash that could be going towards public benefit elsewhere, but instead is being used to fuel yet another stadium scheme.
Because it’s a new stadium in the construction phase, the NFL quickly and without hesitation awarded the 2022 Super Bowl to Kroenke and the Rams. While this is considered to be great news for SoCal residents and businesses, that’s a fantasy. Super Bowls bring in a lot fewer dollars to hotels and local businesses than the League celebrates. The NFL controls hotel room rates, they control key vendors, and save for placing the game in cities that go into winter hibernation and no one ventures outside, restaurants and other local businesses historically see very little uptick in revenue. The NFL seeks to, and in many cases succeeds, in keeping fans involved at NFL approved sites and attractions.
So in a circuitous manner, let’s come back to Goodell and the NFC Championship game reaction.
Owners run the NFL, not Goodell. He has no more power, nor desire, to actually enforce rules of the game than a good capo regime does for the guy slipping him free TV’s and cut rate cars. Think of the relationship between Tony Soprano and Paulie Walnuts. Same thing.
Goodell is a good soldier, and does as he is told. In this case, he was told to run silent, run deep. The NFL has one of the more well-oiled public relations machines in any global sport, with a number of excellent people seeking to strive for credibility and preparedness in the wake of an emergency. I have no doubt, zero on the sources scale, that they were ready to issue the proper releases and, at the very least, try to tamp down the public furor and make it seem as if the NFL had a shred of integrity remaining.
I also have no doubt they were told to hold off and say nothing, which in the case of damage control is the absolute wrong thing to do. Silence is rust in cases such as these, and only serves to raise suspicion.
A conspiracy, perhaps? At the very least, another bad coverup by a corporate entity with a lojng track record of being terrible at such subterfuge. A decision made quickly and behind the scenes to coverup a desire to reward Kroenke and the Rams when a chance afforded itself? Interesting how this came up in a recent podcast episode of “The Fastest Show in Sports” with Joe Casale, attorney and former player agent who knows the inner workings of the NFL better than some of those who work there.
Conspiracy is indeed a strong word, likely smacking some of hyperbole and more of what we seem to reach for in America these days when something doesn’t go our way. The difference here is the NFL has a history of coverups and corruption, notably during the reign of Roger Goodell. A nice guy who never stole a freight train, but someone who came up thru the ranks and owes his life, career, and bank account to the NFL.
This is not, under any circumstance, meant to be absolution for Goodell. He could suddenly snap a spine into place and lead by both word and example. He could decry what happened, stand firm in stating the NFL will do everything in it’s power to ensure it never happens again, and show a real level of leadership and integrity.
He has been, and remains, the perfect patsy for those good old boys. Jerry Jones. Stan Kroenke. Robert Kraft. Clark Hunt. John Mara. Art Rooney. Merely the most powerful of the testosterone club that runs the NFL every single day, every single nuance, leaving public bread crumbs to be whisked away by the likes of Goodell and those who toil in the shadows, trading their integrity for an excellent salary and resume power of the NFL.
So don’t blame Roger Goodell. He’s just doing what he’s told to do.
It’s now up to you, the fan, to decide if you’re still willing to buy into a sport that has been, and remains, rife with the kind of corruption we wouldn’t accept in other forms of life.
Rules are overlooked. Evidence of cheating is tossed in the garbage. Players are still used as cannon fodder to feed billionaire bank accounts. Perhaps even, games are fixed at some level to bring about a per-determined outcome.
Still want to be a fan of the NFL?
Pay your money. Take your chances.