First, Roger Goodell inherited an NFL which was well-known, well-liked and very successful and growing. The game was tough, sometimes ugly, but it was played by burly, tough men who wanted to play football because they knew they could become wealthy as a result. But Goodell watered down the game while also installing a politically correct philosophy in the league office. He refused to enforce long-standing league rules regarding player representation of the league on field and off. He is not a hard nosed football enthusiast but, rather, a manager who expects people paying big bucks to pay to see something more akin to heavy flag football and it shows. But, even worse, he allowed activities counter to the patriotic fervor of most ardent football fans and Americans and turned them off.
The changes in rules and allowable behavior have resulted in large numbers of very strong men, all knowing what they were getting into, thinking that they should be paid astronomical salaries for a weak version of the game. Furthermore, they have been allowed to protest on the field and while even in their employer's uniform to speak out loudly on subjects that most really don't understand but have read talking points about.
The fans have been forgotten as these often nearly illiterate men spout off hate and discontent while those paying the bills tune out. Anyone with common sense knows that injuries are going to happen with three hundred pound men crashing into one another, but that's why they are paid those big dollars. Like it or not, football fans savor a big hit and hard tackle. They don't want anyone hurt but they know it's going to happen and the players know it as well.
Frankly, it reminds me of the forty year smoker who started as a teenager, develops cancer, and wants to sue a tobacco company for his cancer, often winning huge settlements, much of which goes to the lawyers. Let's get real here, when I was seven years old in 1954 all the kids at school called cigarettes "cancer sticks." And likewise with big time football, little boys knew what football could do, but the truly good athletes made personal decisions that it was worth the risk. And I'll say it again, this point also applies to men thinking they can do anything they want both on field and off, in uniform or not, when representing their employer. Expecting them to honor the rules and standards of the employer have been acceptable since business began and they've been allowed to enforce those standards.
Secondly, Goodell did what he did because of his ideology. He thinks that political correctness will draw more fans, particularly women and those who focus on excessive sensitivities, by softening the game, allowing the employees to set the rules underwhich the owners have to pay., The result is chaos, anger, a huge split in the audience with the majority just wanting to see football without politics. Goodell doesn't get that the biggest draw of football for men as well as most women, is the ability to escape from the reality of the world for three hours during a game. Maybe he needs to spend more time in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and the old rough and tumble NFL towns instead of Gotham City and Tinseltown.
Finally, Goodell's contract is up for renewal and ESPN reported, and Drudge picked it up this morning, that he is asking for $49.5 million annually plus unlimited use of a plane for life and health and life insurance on himself and his family for life. Really, Roger? Talk about arrogance and chutzpah, the man who has presided over one of the most successful enterprises ever, coming on board when it was already assured, has managed to rip it apart, team by team. What the league needs is a modern day Pete Rozelle, a man who loves the game and separates it from politics. And that man needs to make sure his front office is full of well qualified people who truly love the game and want to put it first, not push for political correctness.
So, hopefully the owners will look after their best interests and usher Goodell out the door. Let's get a man who loves football and the fans of football, not an arrogant elitist who wants to change what you and I might individually think and believe. Now is the best time to do it.