I think the bloom is starting to come off of Roger Goodell’s rose. And the NFL’s 2011 season looks D.O.A.

“His letter to the fans in a nutshell: greedy players and broke owners. The NFL needs more money (more even than the many billions of dollars the new Monday Night Football TV contract will provide), and the athletes who populate the league need less. It’s the same tune he’s been practicing, but now sung with a bullhorn. He wants the fans to keep in mind, as they watch the playoffs, that the athletes on their televisions are overpaid hooligans whose bodies are not their own properties and thus shall have no say in the direction of the league as a whole.

“His vaunted code of conduct policy, his public flogging of the NFL’s relatively few troublemakers, and his repeated cries for a “culture change,” all seen by him as progress, were taken in the locker room as the opposite. One can only assume that a call for a “culture change” means that Goodell is unhappy with the current culture, or more to the point, with the players themselves. He is openly questioning their morals. Understanding that the majority of the players in the NFL are young black men, and he is representing the interests of old, rich, white owners, Goodell has needlessly widened the cultural rift between the players and the displeased owners who might wish their players weren’t quite so black. That’s not progress.

“Meanwhile, he had no problems … doling out fines for what he perceived as overly vicious hits. But the way it looks in the locker room, the fines are a function of media attention and the marketability of the player getting hit. And if you accidentally graze the head of a quarterback, it’s your ass. (And here we thought that’s what helmets were for.) This is when Goodell’s PR train permanently went off the rails. Players practice at full speed every week. They smack heads and then go watch it on film. They know everyone is getting hit in the head. The laughably inconsistent enforcement of the head-shot rule makes it clear to the players, or at least the vast majority of them: your brains are expendable.
“And now its just getting silly. On the heels of an impassioned plea for safer play, he’s aggressively pushing an 18-game season.”


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